Reading’s Under-23s were made to pay by their Newcastle United visitors at Adams Park on Friday evening; the Magpies made the most of two opportunities to ultimately run out 2-0 winners.
It was a game where Reading dominated possession and created good opportunities, but the Toon stood firm to hold on to their early lead before nicking a late second.
Newcastle man Kelland Watts was instrumental in making the first goal happen as he went up to attack a corner and put in a challenge on Reading defender Tom Holmes, in his second match since a length lay-off, which saw the ball ricochet into the net for an unfortunate own-goal.
The Royals pushed throughout the game for that leveller; when the back-four were beaten, goalkeeper Nathan Harker was on hand to preserve the visitors’ lead. Josh Barrett and Danny Loader were central of much of the attacking play but Reading’s finishing wasn’t quite on point.
And Harker produced a save-of-the-season contender, tipping over the bar as he backpedalled to keep Reading out.
The opportunity to go level came in the 89th minute as the Royals were awarded a spot-kick, as Mo Sangare handled in the box. But Harker guessed correctly to keep out a low strike by Barrett, and the Newcastle defence hooked to safety.
With Reading pressing hard in stoppage time for the equaliser, the Magpies countered and when Rosaire Longelo’s initial effort was saved by Jokull Andresson, Tyrique Bartlett followed in to kill the game off.
Under-23 manager Scott Marshall said: “There was lots of good stuff – we created good opportunities and played good combinations. We could have had the lead with some better finishing or if not for their goalkeeper’s saves.
“Even after going behind we kept making opportunities and getting into their area. We kept going at them and we were picked off on the counter-attack. I’m really pleased with the performance, but we needed to take our chances. They took theirs but we didn’t manage to on the night.”
Full-time: Reading U23 0-2 Newcastle United U23
Reading U23: Andresson, Balogun, Green, Holmes, Burley, East, Holsgrove (Olise 65), Rollinson, Barrett, Loader, Liddle.
Unused subs: Roberts, Odimayo, Pendlebury.
Newcastle United U23: Harker, Cass, Watts, Bailey, Young, Longstaff, Longelo-Mbule, Barrett, Sangare (Juanito 90), Allan, Toure (Bartlett 63).
Unused subs: Huuhtanen, McEntee.