Reading’s Under-23s went top of the Premier League 2 Division 2 table on Friday evening by earning a 2-2 draw away to Fulham.
The Royals twice came from behind through Adrian Popa to take a point from the fixture – no mean feat against a Cottagers side that had won six of their last seven games.
George Williams had twice put the hosts into the lead at Craven Cottage, only for Popa – the Royals’ most experienced representative – to notch twice in reply.
Both goalkeepers were called into early action; George Legg tested first by Jordan Graham after ghosting in behind the defence, and then Magnus Norman denying Tyler Frost after he had broken quickly down the left for Reading.
And midway through the first period, as the West London club began to exert pressure, Legg made a terrific double-save to keep out Djed Spence and Graham in succession.
It could have been the Royals to take the lead into the break; only a goal-line stop by Spence prevented Ben House from registering the opener, shooting inside a congested box.
Instead, Williams hammered in from a Graham cross in first-half stoppage time, meaning a change in team-talks for both sides at the interval.
But the scores were level on the hour – after Osho had gone close for the Royals, it was Romanian attacker Popa who found the equalising goal. Picking up on the edge of the area, his shot into the top corner was too precise for Norman to stop.
Fulham led again soon after – bodies were forward to attack a corner, but the Cottagers broke quickly and Mattias Kait’s ball across to Williams was fired in via the underside of Legg’s crossbar.
However Popa rounded off the scoring in the 70th minute, as the Royals worked the ball into the area to allow him to shoot under the body of Norman for a second equaliser.
While Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Aston Villa all have games in hand, the result still sees the Royals top of their division for the meantime.
Full-time: Fulham U23 2-2 Reading U23
Fulham U23: Norman, Nabay, Spence, Francois, Davies, Jenz, Kwietniewski (Andrason 83), Kait (Elstone 82), Williams, Thorsteinsson (Pearce 53), Graham.
Unused sub: WIckens.
Reading U23: Legg, Watson (Howe HT), Osho, Andresson, Medford-Smith, East, Rollinson, Frost (Coleman 67), House, Shokunbi, Popa (Green 87).
Unused subs: Driscoll, Nditi.