Reading’s Under-23 side ran out 3-0 winners away at Fulham on Friday afternoon, as Ethan Bristow, Jayden Onen and Ryan East all got on the scoresheet.
The trio, who have been included in a number of first-team squads throughout the campaign, netted without reply to close the gap to just a single point outside the play-off positions in a concertinaed Premier League 2 Division 2 table.
The game may have panned out differently had Fulham taken advantage from 12 yards in the early exchanges; Ben Davis was felled in the area for the hosts, giving Jean-Pierre Tiehi a chance to open the scoring from the spot. But Coniah Boyce-Clarke’s presence between the sticks forced the striker to miss the target.
Instead it was Reading that went ahead, just after the half-hour – and there was a touch of fortune about it. Bristow’s corner was aimed towards the near post… but somehow it ended up evading the Whites’ defence and crept in, to give Reading the advantage.
Royals right-back Andy Yiadom, who completed an hour as he continues his steady return, could have doubled the advantage as he chipped over the goalkeeper, only to see a recovering defender make a vital clearance at the last moment.
But that second goal came soon after the break, when the ball sat kindly for Onen to slot home from close range.
And then Onen made another telling contribution minutes later when he drew a foul from Fulham defender Luca Murphy, judged to be just inside the box. Ryan East stepped up and fired his penalty straight down the middle.
Next up, Mehmet Ali’s side are due to host an Aston Villa side which stand a single point above the Royals in the standings at Bearwood next Friday.
Full-time: Fulham U23 0-3 Reading U23
Reading U23: Boyce-Clarke, Yiadom (Hewitt 64), Bristow, Luzon, Watson, East, Tetek (Leavy 64), Pendlebury, Onen, Camara (Lawless 73), Smith.
Unused subs: Holden, Ajose.