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Ugwu inspires thrilling win

26 August 2013

Reading U21s 3 - 2 Southampton

Gozie Ugwu's fantastic solo goal in stoppage time snatched a 3-2 win for Reading's under-21s against Southampton at Hogwood Park on Monday afternoon.

Defender Jake Cooper claimed the first goal of the game from a corner, five minutes before the Saints replied via Jake Flanningan.

Before half time, Jake Sinclair put the visitors ahead from a penalty - but Ugwu equalised from the spot 13 minutes from time before his brilliant individual goal at the death secured all three points.

Reading: Henly; Long, Griffin, Partridge (Sweeney 85), Cooper; Tshibola (Fosu 68), Taylor, D'Ath, Kuhl, Samuel, Ugwu.

Subs not used: Moore, Stacey, Kelly.

Southampton: Johns; Young, Targett, Moore, McCarthy, Turnbull, Sinclair, Flannigan, Gallagher, Seager, Sims (Robinson 61).

Subs: Colmer, Cropper, Branker, Mugabi.

First half

Another youthful Royals side took to the pitch to take on Southampton, with Academy skipper Aaron Kuhl handed a place in the starting line-up and his under-18s team mates Liam Kelly, Tariqe Fosu and Jack Stacey each earning a place on the substitute's bench.

But it was the visitors who started the brighter - Saints striker Ryan Seager struck the post with his left foot before Corby Moore fired over Jon Henly's bar.

Martin Kuhl's men soon settled down and went close when captain Jake Taylor hit a half volley in the direction of Gozie Ugwu, but the striker failed to convert - before Dom Samuel side-footed just wide of the mark.

But after 22 minutes, the Royals were in front. Ugwu had a header well saved from corner, before defender Jake Cooper bundled the ball home from a yard out.

Saints goalkeeper Chris Johns produced two fantastic saves to keep it 1-0 - first denying Ugwu before getting a touch to Samuel's goalbound strike onto the crossbar.

Southampton equalised just five minutes after Cooper's opener, when Jake Flannigan's low shot from just outside the box flew past Henly into the net.

Reading looked to immediately retake the lead, with Lawson D'Ath shooting over from distance - but it was to be the Saints who took a 2-1 lead.

The lively Seager was brought down in the box, and up stepped Jake Sinclair to convert the penalty and put Southampton ahead shortly before half time.

Second half

The Royals started well after the interval and almost levelled straight away, but 'keeper Johns produced a top save to deny Taylor inside the box.

Another great chance went amiss on the hour mark when Lawson D'Ath's excellent cross met the head of Samuel, but the effort was just wide of the post.

Two minutes later, Southampton so very nearly took a commanding 2-0 lead. A mix-up allowed towering Saints striker Sam Gallagher to round Henly, but his tame effort was cleared off the line by Cooper in the nick of time.

Substitute Tariqe Fosu almost made an instant impact when Cooper picked out the winger, but Johns pulled off another excellent save.

Reading were undoubtedly the side in the ascendancy and were given the chance to level 12 minutes from time when Taylor was felled inside the area by Andy Robsinson, with the referee pointing to the spot.

Ugwu duly dispatched the spot-kick past Johns for 2-2 - and there was a real urgency to get the ball back to the centre circle to restart; the Royals hungry for all three points.

Both sides went in search of the win in a frantic finish - Ugwu was fantastically denied by Johns one-on-one before Henly produced heroics at the other end, preventing Jason McCarthy's flick.

The Royals were screaming for another penalty when Samuel's drive appeared to hit the hand of defender Jordan Turnbull - but any feeling of frustration soon disappeared when Ugwu snatched a sensational winner.

The striker, who was the hero in the under-21s opening night win of the season, robbed right-back Matt Young of the ball and galloped towards goal, skipping past another marker before unleashing a terrific strike past Johns to win the game.

The final whistle blew moments later to confirm a stunning 3-2 win for the Royals under-21s, who take on Everton away next Monday night. Click here to view the U21s fixtures and results.

Reading FC Player subscribers will be able to access highlights from this entertaining game soon.

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