Reading U21s 2-3 Manchester United U21sReading 2 (Fosu 59, Cardwell 68)
Manchester United 3 (Wilson 17, Weir 69, McNair 90)
Reading under 21s were cruelly edged out by Manchester United in the U21 Premier League at Madejski Stadium on Thursday evening.
The Royals had gone in at the break a goal behind after a neat finish by James Wilson, but came out with all guns blazing and took the game to their opponents.
Tariqe Fosu equalised with a well taken long range effort, before substitute Harry Cardwell prodded home a rebound to make it 2-1 to the home side.
However United replacement James Weir squeezed a shot past Dan Lincoln shortly afterwards, before Paddy McNair struck in stoppage time to break the hearts of the men in hoops - who had looked the more likely to grab a later winner.
Reading: Lincoln, Long, Griffin, Sweeney, Cooper, Tshibola, Kelly, Fosu, Stacey, Tanner (Murombedzi 75), Ugwu (Cardwell 63)
Subs not used: Ward, Dickie, Fridjonsson
Booked: Cardwell (foul 67)
Manchester United: Amos; Varela, McNair, Ekangamene, James; Rowley, Pearson; Janko, Rothwell (Harrop 67), A.Pereira; Wilson (Weir 59)
Subs not used: J.Pereira, Rudge, C.Evans
Manchester United had the first shot on target as James Wilson took advantage of a misplaced Reading pass to break upfield, but his effort from 25 yards was easily gathered by Dan Lincoln.
In a relatively cautious opening fifteen minutes, the only other effort of note was an attempt from United number seven Saidy Janko, which flew wide of the post from the right of the box.
But the visitors took the lead shortly afterwards. Young starlet James Wilson, who has been on the bench for the Red Devils' first team this season, broke free on the right wing before cutting inside and darting a pinpoint finish into the bottom left corner.
The first Royals efforts of the game came on the half hour mark, as first Aaron Tshibola and then Gozie Ugwu blazed over the bar - as the away side took a 1-0 lead into the break.
Tshibola was again involved at the start of the second period, weaving to the edge of the box before forcing a save out of Ben Amos. A dangerous cross to the far post from Craig Tanner was then met by Jack Stacey, but the midfielder couldn't quite get over the high bouncing ball - and headed over.
After such enterprise the equaliser was a deserved one when it came. Winger Tariqe Fosu scored the first in a cup final win over City on Saturday, and struck against the other side of Manchester shortly before the hour mark. The number eleven had to battle to win the ball in the middle of the park, before dashing forward and striking a low, long distance effort into the bottom corner.
Visiting left back Reece James then lashed in a volley from the left, which was well held by Lincoln in the Reading goal. It was Martin Kuhl's side who almost took the lead in the 77th minute, Fosu again involved as he swung a ball in from the left - before substitute Harry Cardwell headed just wide.
Harry's moment did come. After another good move from the home side saw Stacey almost squeeze a shot in, but Cardwell was alert to the rebound - and lashed home to edge his side in front.
The lead only lasted a matter of seconds though, as another substitute levelled matters. United's James Weir found an inch of space and just about squeezed home past a wrong footed Lincoln. The Royals 'keeper scrambled to hook the ball back off the line, but the assistant referee flagged that it had just crept over.
At the other end Cardwell couldn't keep out of the action. After a superb team move from the men in hoops, the striker had a great opportunity from twelve yards out - but couldn't keep his shot down as injury time loomed.
And the home side were punished. In the dying stages, midfielder McNair found half a yard on the edge of the box, and smashed home an excellent strike to win it for his side. Harsh - but still plenty to be proud of for Kuhl's men.
Photography by Phil Duncan