A second-half hat-trick from Tyler Frost saw Reading's Under-23s complete a hard-earned 3-0 win over Birmingham City in Woking on Monday night.
- House and Frost go close in first half for young Royals
- Frost puts Reading ahead on 65 minutes with cool finish inside the box
- Frost scores again from the penalty spot after Howe brought down
Our U23s faced off in the Premier League Cup against a Birmingham side with plenty of experience in there, with first-teamers Craig Gardner and Connal Trueman lining up for Blues in Woking on Monday night.
The Royals started the game with a break at speed from the back. Conor Lawless fed Callum Harriott, who spread play to Tyler Frost with the winger at full pelt.
Frost squared into the area for Ben House to strike, saved well by Trueman in the Birmingham goal.
Frost and House linked up again soon after, with Michael Olise cutting away from his marker and spreading to Frost on the far side - who whipped in an inviting ball for House, who narrowly missed it in the air and the ball bounced to safety for Blues.
A couple of lengthy stoppages hampered the flow of the game in the first half, first Luke Southwood was attended to after an awkward landing when he headed clear outside his area - before Teddy Howe took a knock in midfield, but both were fit to carry on.
House, who will link up with Scotland's Under-20s this week alongside Tom McIntyre, was in the thick of the action again as Harriott powered a cross towards the far post. House nodded back across goal, past Trueman and beyond the post.
Scott Marshall's young Royals were comfortable in possession and regularly finding space to cross, but came up against a well-drilled Birmingham defence that weren't offering them any earnest attempts on goal.
Blues rarely threatened the Royals' goal in the first half, coming closest from a corner that was met by Ryan Burke - who powered his header past Southwood's upright, and it was honours even at the interval.
Half-time | Reading U23 0-0 Birmingham City U23
The Royals took time to re-establish the dominance on the ball they had in the first half, after Birmingham looked to put more pressure on the ball in the early part of the second half.
Lawless was brought down on the edge of the box, Frost fired his free-kick low and into the wall but Reading recycled possession, with a cross coming in for Andre Burley to head - it looped towards goal but Trueman got behind it to claim.
Midway through the second period, the young Royals took the lead. They broke quickly in midfield and Olise split the Birmingham backline with an incisive through ball, with Frost racing clear of his marker and calmly slotting in to give Reading the advantage.
Almost immediately after the restart, Southwood had to be alert as a glove-stinger from the edge of the box fizzed towards the top corner - but the 'keeper was equal to the effort and saved smartly.
The Royals hit their stride with some intricate one-touch work in and around the box, with House laying off to Frost to strike from 12 yards - blocked on its way to goal and Trueman held on.
Reading had a penalty after Frost cleverly backheeled to Howe advancing in the area, he was cynically brought down by Kyle Anderson and Frost had the chance to double the lead from the spot - sending Trueman the wrong way and scoring his second, with the ball ricocheting off the post and over the line.
A comfortable defensive performance kept Blues at bay heading into the closing stages, putting themselves in front of everything Birmingham threw at them.
The Royals were awarded another penalty deep into added time after House was bundled over on the run in the box. Frost stepped up, put his penalty in the same place and completed a well-taken hat-trick on the night.
This win keeps Scott Marshall's side level on points with Fulham at the top of their Premier League Cup group, and they are now 11 matches unbeaten in league and cup competition - a run which stretches all the way back to August.
Full-time | Reading U23 3-0 Birmingham City U23
Reading U23: Southwood, Howe, Medford-Smith, Burley, McIntyre, East (c), Frost, Lawless (Sidoel 85), Olise (Nolan 66), Harriott, House.
Subs: Driscoll, Odimayo, Liddle.
Goals: Frost 65, 73 (P), 90+3 (P)
Yellow: East, Frost
Birmingham City U23: Trueman, Forrest, Burke, McGilp (Martin 70), Bajrami (c), Redmond, McCoy, Gardner (Hurst 70), Andrews (Baker 86), McFarlane, Anderson.
Subs: Luyambula, Concannon.