Ikpeazu double seals crucial winReading U18s 2 (Ikpeazu 20, 61)
Southampton U18s 1 (Seager 45)
Reading under-18s secured a hard fought win over Southampton to leapfrog the Saints into third place of the Elite League.
A brace from top scorer Uche Ikpeazu sealed a vital victory for the Academy - their seventh in a row - who are closing in on a place in the Premier League finals.
Watched by Nigel Adkins, Andy Crosby, Nick Hammond and a number of first team pros, the Royals made a steady start to the game and went ahead after 20 minutes.
Moments after having an appeal for a penalty turned down, Tariqe Fosu raced down the right and cut inside for Ikpeazu - who calmly side-footed into the net past Southampton goalkeeper Chris Johns.
Ten minutes later, the Royals almost doubled their advantage. Craig Tanner charged down the left on the edge of the box and picked out Shepherd Murombedzi, but his header sailed just over the bar.
Reading goalkeeper Dan Lincoln made a comfortable save at the other end, before Dominic Hyam's looping header caused problems for Johns - who had to parry the goal bound effort over the bar.
But with their first serious chance of the game, the visitors struck level. Striker Ryan Seager got hold of the ball on the edge of the area and fired a left-footed rocket into the roof of the net - just moments before the half time whistle.
That goal gave the Saints renewed vigour going into the second half, and Eamonn Dolan's men did well to weather the Southampton storm - which included hitting the post.
The Royals soon reestablished their ascendency - and clinched the all-important goal just after the hour mark. Ikpeazu latched onto the ball inside Southampton's box and managed a delicate flick past the 'keeper - and despite a desperate effort to clear the ball, the officials adjudged it to have crossed the line, confirming the striker's 28th of the season.
Substitute Liam Kelly made an assured impact off the bench to help the Royals see the game out, while fellow sub Taylor-Crossdale De'Jaune fired over late on. The final whistle confirmed a huge win for the Royals, who are now in pole position to secure a top three finish and qualify into the final stage.
Royals: Lincoln; Long, Hyam, Cooper, Griffin; Murombedzi (Kelly 73), Stacey (Shaunessey 79), Kuhl, Fosu (De-Jaune 87); Tanner, Ikpeazu.
Subs not used: Moore, Dickie.
Click here for the Academy's fixtures/results and here for the league table.