Royals Academy 2-1 Crystal Palace AcademyReading U18s 2 (Tshibola 8, Hyam 51)
Crystal Palace 1 (Tieku 57)
Reading's under-18s recorded their ninth consecutive Elite League win with a narrow 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace at a sunny Hogwood Park on Tuesday evening.
Goals in each half from Aaron Tshibola and Dominic Hyam were enough for the Royals to take all three points, and move themselves level with league leaders Fulham - only behind in second place on goal difference.
Following Manchester United's goalless draw with Fulham on Tuesday, the Royals Academy were already aware that they had secured a top three finish, thus reaching the final stages of the Barclays Under 18s Premier League, but our youngsters weren't complacent and made a hugely positive start.
Reading were without top goalscorer Uche Ikpeazu and midfielder Aaron Kuhl due to injury - but that wasn't apparent early on as the Royals took an early lead. Craig Tanner swept in a perfect delivery from a corner, and Tshibola headed emphatically into the net.
Royals goalkeeper Dan Lincoln had to be on his guard to prevent Palace from an instant equaliser, before Tshibola went close again at the other end.
Tanner saw a free kick comfortably saved before Lincoln came up trumps in a one-on-one with Eagles striker Derek Tieku - with Connor Dymond spurning over the bar shortly before half time.
It was a bright start to the second half for Reading, who forced a corner when Tariqe Fosu advanced forward down the left and forced Palace goalkeeper David Gregory into conceding a corner.
From the ensuing set-piece, Eamonn Dolan's men made it two. Tanner, again the provider, picked out defender Hyam - who remarkably headed home his fourth in seven games and his sixth of the season.
It was almost three soon after - Tshibola, after some great work down the left, found Tanner - but the striker was off-balance as he struck over the bar.
But a minute after that chance, Palace pulled one back. Lincoln pulled off a truly magnificent save onto the post - but Tieku was on hand to control the rebound and strike it into the net.
Reading looked a little nervy after that but did well to deny the visitors from having any serious attempts on goal - Lincoln had to make the one solid save from range.
Tanner had a curling free kick go over the bar, then substitute De-Juane had his effort superbly blocked before the referee called time on the game to confirm the Royals' ninth successive Elite League win.
A trip to Chelsea on Saturday morning concludes the league season for the Royals and their final placing in the top three will then dictate their opponents in the semi-final. Full results/fixture list can be found here.
Reading: Lincoln; Long, Griffin, Hyam, Cooper; Murombedzi (Shaughnessy 66), Tshibola, Stacey, Fosu; Kelly; Tanner (Taylor-Crossdale 66).
Subs not used: Moore, Dickie, Owusu.
Click here for the latest league table or here for a breakdown of the Premier Academy League structure.