Reading’s Under-23 squad finalised their Premier League Cup Group A fixtures with a 2-2 draw at Charlton Athletic – a fixture which mattered little in the grand scheme of things, as both sides had already qualified for the last 16.
Nevertheless it was an entertaining and goal-strewn encounter at Princes Park – and the Royals, runners-up in Group A, are now set to meet Group B winners Everton at the next stage.
It could have been the Royals who opened the scoring in the early stages, but Nelson Abbey saw his header from a corner crash against the crossbar. Instead it was the Addicks that led in the 12th minute, as Junior Quitirna smashed in from close range after smart forward play by Josh Davison.
The hosts were reduced to ten men as early as the quarter-hour mark when midfielder James Vennings raised his hands to Reading striker Augustus McGiff, prompted the ref to reach for his red card.
McGiff was the one to level the scores, in spectacular fashion. Tennai Watson linked up down the right with Sone Aluko, before delivering a teasing cross which the forward met with an overhead kick – the goalkeeper couldn’t keep it out, and the scores were tied again.
Reading continued to play on the front-foot and a first goal since signing for winger Joseph Ajose followed – just 15 minutes after coming off the bench, he stole onto a low cross from the right to tap in.
But the Addicks levelled the scores again from the spot, as Albie Morgan converted from 12 yards after a hand-ball in the Royals’ box.
Top spot was still up for grabs and Reading could have snatched it in stoppage time, but Imari Samuels’ low drive was diverted away by the foot of the goalkeeper.
2-2 it ended at Princes Park – the knockout stages await both sides.
Full-time: Charlton Athletic U23 2-2 Reading U23
Charlton Athletic U23: Trialist, Yao, Ness, Stevenson, Vennings, Powell, Quitirna, Morgan, Wiredu (Vega 89), Ghandour, Davison (Odoh 80).
Unused subs: Harness, Williams.
Reading U23: Andresson, Elva-Fountaine, Samuels, Osorio, Abbey, Dorsett, Watson, Frost (Caetano HT), McGiff, Aluko, Azeez (Ajose 56).
Unused subs: Collins, Nditi.