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Cup holders through to quarter finals

22 December 2014

Excellent 3-1 win for Under 21s

Bolton U21s 1 (Holding 38)
Reading U21s 3 (Samuel 15, Tshibola 92, Stacey 107)

The reigning Under 21 Premier League Cup holders are through to the next round after the Royals picked up an excellent 3-1 win away to a Bolton side that included the likes of Emile Heskey and Adam Bogdan.

Reading went in front through Dominic Samuel but were pegged back by Rob Holding, and despite plenty of Royal pressure the game went into extra time.

A very neat Aaron Tshibola goal and a lovely finish from Jack Stacey put us into the last eight of the competition as we look to defend a trophy we won by overcoming Manchester City, Arsenal et al last season.

Martin Kuhl's men stood up very well to the challenge posed by the Trotters, and we progress to the final 8 of a prestigious cup that we made history in last year.

Reading: Lincoln, Long, Griffin, Keown (c), Sweeney, Kelly (Cardwell 116), Tshibola (Shaughnessy 105), Stacey, Fosu, Tanner, Samuel
Subs: Ward, Hyam
Booked: Fosu (foul 67), Tshibola (foul 99)

Bolton: Bogdan, Holding, Sellers, Maher, Taylor, Finney, Kamara (Woolery HT), Lester, Odelusi (Ball 105), Heskey (Thomas 65), Walker
Subs: Fitzsimmons, Matthews
Sent off: Walker (foul 107)

Full report
The game was played with an excellent tempo throughout, and proceedings certainly began in that fashion as defences were tested at either end.

An aerial duel with the names Keown and Heskey certainly conjures up images of yesteryear, but it was our young defender Niall Keown who was relishing the challenge with big Emile; the former England man trying to earn a contract under Neil Lennon.

And Keown had to make three challenges of note in the early stages, preventing Wanderers from getting forward after nicking possession in midfield. And down the other end, Dominic Samuel got one-on-one but Ryan Sellers was back to block.

The action continued to flow, and our keeper Dan Lincoln had to save from Niall Maher, still inside the first 15 minutes.

With so much goalmouth action, an opener was almost inevitable and in came in fine style - Pierce Sweeney winning a header that Craig Tanner superbly turned forward for Samuel, who ran away from his man to score at the near post.

We were pressing for a quick second, and Samuel had a good chance but slipped at the key moment.

Wanderers almost had a quick leveller after we slipped inside our own box and Lincoln then pulled off two excellent saves, going full stretch to deny well-hit efforts from outside the area.

Chances were relentless, and Tariqe Fosu's super run led to a chance for Samuel, but Adam Bogdan saved expertly down low to his right.

Bolton then entered their best spell of the game, and they looked dangerous from long range with some excellent strikers of the ball in their side. And so it proved, right back Rob Holding cutting inside to unleash into the far corner on 38 minutes.

Tom Walker then went close with a free kick as the half drew to a close, while Tanner almost saw his effort creep in, rolling just wide via a deflection. And Holding had a decent headed chance but it was too close to Lincoln.

As the half time whistle blew it ended what had been a very good 45 minutes' entertainment, with both sides playing their part.

Second half
Skipper Keown had a header cleared off the line within a minute of the restart, before Lincoln made another good save to keep it 1-1.

And Keown then hit the post and saw his header roll across the line to a welcome Bogdan, the home 'keeper becoming busier as we took full control of the game.

Samuel had a real chance to make it 2-1 but smashed over from a Jack Stacey cross - marking the beginning of a period when our wingers Stacey and Fosu turned the screw.

Fosu then set up Samuel with a 50-yard run, but the striker curled wide with 71 minutes gone.

Then it was Fosu's turn to shoot, and his effort was deflected over before Stacey forced another superb Bogdan save. It was one-way traffic - but somehow it stayed 1-1 come the whistle on 90 minutes.

Extra time
Bolton had a good chance on 91 minutes through the lively Sanmi Odelusi, and it proved a key moment as he scuffed into Lincoln's arms.

Within a minute we were in front, Aaron Tshibola showing excellent technique to play a one-two on the edge of the box and stab home into the corner expertly.

Then just after the second period of extra time began, it was game over as Stacey got a deserved goal with a finish from the edge of the area that was perhaps deflected on the way in.

And when Bolton's Walker was sent off for kicking Tanner, the result was beyond doubt. We saw the game out expertly, and Shane Griffin almost had a fourth but for more heroics by Bogdan.

So overall a very staisfying evening's work for Martin Kuhl's side. Making the last eight of the U21 PL Cup is a good achievement for any side - but after winning the competition last season we have far greater ambitions.

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