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21s Edged In First Leg

10 April 2014

Thriller at the Etihad

Man City 3 (Cole 39, Lopes pen 59, Cole 88)
Reading 2 (Ugwu 13, Tanner 31)

Manchester City edged the Royals in a thrilling first leg to the U21s Premier League Cup Final at the Etihad Stadium.

An impressive Reading side took a 2-0 lead in the first half, as Gozie Ugwu headed home, before Craig Tanner went clean through on goal before squeezing his shot under Ian Lawlor. However Devante Cole, son of former Manchester United forward Andy, pulled one back for the home side before the break.

Tariqe Fosu hit the bar early in the second period for the visitors before a game changing moment on the hour mark, as Marcos Lopes' strike towards an open goal was handled by centre back Jake Cooper on the line, giving referee Lee Mason no choice but to point to the spot and produce a red card. Lopes himself made no mistake from 12 yards.

It looked as if Martin Kuhl's men would hold on to the draw nonetheless, but Cole bagged his brace in the dying stages - bundling in after a defensive mix-up to give City a slender lead ahead of the return leg at Madejski Stadium.

That game will take place on Saturday 19th April, with a 3pm kick off. Tickets are £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Parking free at the ground.

Reading: Lincoln, Keown, Griffin, Sweeney, Cooper, Tshibola, Kuhl (C), Stacey, Fosu, Tanner, Ugwu
Subs: Ward, Long, Murombedzi, Kelly, Cardwell

Booked: Fosu (Foul 42)
Sent off: Cooper (Denying a goalscoring opportunity 60)

Man City: Lawlor, Drury, Leigh (Tasende 74), Facey, Denayer, Glendon (Fofana 55), Bytyqi, Ntcham, Hiwula, Lopes, Cole
Subs: Plummer, O'Brien, Bossaerts, Tasende, Fofana

The Etihad Stadium

Referee: Mr Lee Mason

Attendance: 4,873

First Half
Both sides started with confidence, though it was Man City with two early chances, as Devante Cole saw an effort gathered by Daniel Lincoln, before Jordy Hiwula squandered a free header from close range - steering over the bar. 

And the hosts were to be punished. Good work from Jack Stacey down the right presented Gozie Ugwu with a similar chance to that missed by Hiwula, and the Royals frontman headed home. 

Ugwu was a livewire up front, again having a shot blocked from close range minutes later - very brave work from City stopper Ian Lawlor. Lincoln then had to make another smart save from a long distance volley, before the Royals hit their hosts on the counter - and doubled their lead.

Stacey slipped through Craig Tanner, who squirmed a shot under Lawlor - with the City stopper perhaps a little disappointed to have let the effort creep into the net. City got one back five minutes before the break however as Cole, son of Andy, scampered through on the right and coolly fired into the bottom corner.

Second Half

The Royals again started brightly in the second period, with Tariqe Fosu firing in a dipping shot from long distance, which Lawlor did well to tip onto the crossbar. However the game's defining moment came just before the hour mark. Lincoln was robbed of possession in his own area, and as Lopes shot towards an open goal, Jake Cooper instinctively handled on the line to palm away. No question it was a red card for the centre half, and Lopes himself stepped up to fire home the equaliser from the spot. 

It was understandably backs to the wall at times, as Hiwula headed off target from the near post with 15 minutes remaining before Lincoln then held a daisy cutter from Olivier Ntcham. Reading did continue to show ambition, as Tanner found space on the right and fed the ball to Ugwu, who saw his curling shot palmed away. But there was to be a winner at the other end...Lincoln initially saved well as a shot came in from the right, but a defensive mix-up allowed Cole to tap into an empty net, and give his side a narrow lead before the second leg on Saturday 19th April at Madejski Stadium. 

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