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U21s see off Villa

3 February 2014

Tanner and Stacey secure win

Aston Villa U21s 0
Reading U21s 2 (Tanner 10, Stacey 37)

First half strikes from Craig Tanner and Jack Stacey secured a deserved victory for Royals under-21s against Aston Villa at their Bodymoor Heath training ground.

Tanner's spot-kick, his eighth goal in five games, and Stacey's superb individual effort were enough to hand the Royals three Barclays U21 Premier League points on a windy Monday afternoon.

Villa started brightly and had a number of early attempts go wide or over the bar in the opening ten minutes, though Royals goalkeeper Stuart Moore was untested.

With Reading beginning to assert their authortity on the game, they were awarded a penalty. Gozie Ugwu let fire from just inside the area, but was fouled in the process by midfielder Gary Gardner and referee Robert Ellis pointed to the spot.

Tanner despatched the spot-kick excellently into the left corner of the net to put the Royals 1-0 up.

The visitors nearly doubled their lead when Ugwu almost flicked the ball home after a good move, before Villains midfielder Calum Robinson curled an effort around the post.

Martin Kuhl's men had to deal with a couple of set-pieces from the hosts, before midfielder Stacey found the net in stunning style.

Entering the box from the left, the winger got past his man before shifting onto his right foot and curling the ball into the top right corner from an acute angle.

At the other end, Moore made an important low save to keep the Birmingham side at bay before Tariqe Fosu almost flicked Michael Hector's left-footed effort into the net, from the aftermath of a corner just before half time.

The Royals came flying out of the blocks in the second half and very nearly made it 3-0. Ugwu had a point-blank effort saved, a strike from the edge of the area well blocked before left back Shane Griffin had a goal disallowed for impeding the goalkeeper.

Fosu, Ugwu, Stacey and Tanner all had strikes desperately but admirably blocked by Aston Villa defenders as the Royals looked to put the game beyond the hosts.

Villa were still a threat at the other end, and Graham Burke had a very close range effort somehow saved by Moore, with the fierce strike appearing to sting the stopper's fingers.

Hector, back with the Royals after a successful loan spell at Aberdeen, came close to scoring but his header was over the bar, before Fosu skied over after a great solo run.

The Villains' task suddenly make harder when Bradley Lewis was sent off for two bookable offences, though they almost pulled one back as Reading frantically survived an indirect free-kick inside the area.

The final whistle confirmed a professional victory for our under-21s, who prepare nicely for their quarter-final Premier League Cup game at Wolves on Thursday before taking on Manchester City in the league next Monday night.

Reading: Moore; Keown, Griffin, Sweeney, Hector; Kuhl, Tshibola, Stacey, Fosu; Tanner, Ugwu.

Unused subs: Lincoln, Long, Hyam, Fridjonsson, Murombedzi.

Aston Villa: Watkins, Webb, Bennett, Gardner, Lewis, Kinsella, Burke, Robinson, Bowery, Johnson (C), Sellars (Abdo 73).

Unused subs: O'Brien, Grant, McKirdy, Wildin.


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