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18s in frantic Arsenal draw

21 January 2014

Youngsters warm up for FA Youth Cup

Click on the goalscorers to see the goals, and click here to watch full six minute highlights on Reading FC Player.

Reading U18s 2 (Fosu 14, Stacey 49)
Arsenal U18s 2 (Jebb 35, Dawkins 55)

The Royals under-18s prepared for the FA Youth Cup fourth round with a thrilling 2-2 draw against Arsenal at Hogwood Park.

Tariqe Fosu and Jack Stacey put Reading ahead twice with excellent finishes, but the Gunners fought back immediately each time via Jack Jebb and Tarum Dawkins - both also superb strikes.

The visitors had the first attempt of the game. After a free-flowing 11-pass move, Arsenal's Renny Smith agonisingly clipped the crossbar, to the Royals' relief.

David Dodds' men soon managed to get a foothold on the game and took the lead after 14 minutes. Tricky winger Fosu raced forward, cutting in on the left, fooling a defender with a step over before sending a right-footed bullet into the back of the net.

Visitors Arsenal looked to respond with a shot from distance, but Royals stopper Lewis Ward gathered at the second attempt. A deflected strike then left Ward stranded, but the effort flew just wide of the post.

Reading nearly doubled their lead moments later from a good breakaway move. Stacey slid in Estonian youth international Vastsuk, who twisted onto his left before whipping a shot wide.

Then came a golden chance for Arsenal's Dawkins as he dashed onto a ball into the six yard box, but skewed his shot over. 

Reading had a good move of their own when Dom Hyam steamed forward, with Stacey delivering a cross for Shaughnessy - but the midfielder couldn't quite make contact with the ball.

But then the Gunners did manage to find a leveller before half time. Royals defender Rob Dickie gave away a free kick on the edge of the area, and England youth international Jack Jebb struck a free-kick into the top corner - the stunning effort was just too much for fellow Three Lions man Ward.

Jebb then tried his luck once again after a quickly taken short corner, but Ward won the battle this time out.

At the other end, the Royals came close once again after a good free-flowing move which involved Aaron Kuhl, Stacey and Kelly, but Vastsuk couldn't convert.

Alfred Mugabo rued a great opportunity minutes later, as a nicely whipped in free kick appeared to give him an opportunity to head home.

The Royals were back in front early on in the second half with a touch of class. After an excellent attacking move, Liam Kelly played in Stacey with a superb one-two - and the versatile player finished with aplomb.

But Arsenal found an equaliser just five minutes later. The highly-rated Dawkins took control of possession down the left hand side, beat his marker and capped off an excellent individual goal with a strike into the top right corner.  

Then the Royals had a penalty shout turned down, when Fosu appeared to have been brought down just inside the area - but the referee judged the initial foul just outside the area, and Arsenal survived the ensuing free kick.

The Gunners almost made it three when Royals 'keeper Ward became stranded after a soft backpass, but the smallest man on the pitch - Liam Kelly - was on hand to head the ball to safety off the line.

Reading were also pushing for a winner in the latter stages, and nearly did so in stunning style when captain Aaron Kuhl rasped a first time shot from 30 yards just wide.

At the death, Arsenal's Alex Iwobi almost won it, but could only find the side netting from the left of the box.

The Barclays U18 Premier League points were shared in what was an enthralling game between two technically sound teams. It was a solid performance from our boys, ahead of Wednesday night's FA Youth Cup encounter with Crewe Alexandra at Madejski Stadium.

Reading: Ward (Sheppard 56), Watson, Owusu, Dickie, Hyam, Stacey, Kuhl, Shaughnessy (Husin 56), Fosu, Kelly, Vastsuk.

Subs not used: Legg, Lawal, Jules.

Arsenal: Iliev, Moore, Uade, Wright, Siemann, Kamara, Dawkins (Dobson 70), Mugabo (Eyoma 76), Smith, Jebb (Willock 56), Iwobi.

Subs not used: Huddart, Bola.

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