Royals share points at Victoria ParkA close encounter on the opening day of the Under-21 Premier League ended in parity for the Royals, with Rowan Liburd scoring on his Reading debut in a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.
The Royals ran out 3-0 winners the last time the two sides met back in March before the two sides both earned promotion, but this contest was a lot more competitive.
The first opportunity of the game at Victoria Park fell to Middlesbrough’s Joao Moreeli, whose powerful shot forced a smart save from Royals’ keeper Stuart Moore. Reading responded well, and when some good passing on the edge of the opposition’s box created a chance for new signing Liburd, bit the forward had his shot well saved by Luke Coddington in the Boro goal.
This led to a host of Reading chances, with Andrija Novakovich twice going close. Lisandro Semedo and Liburd also had chances but were unable to convert, before a run and shot from Boro’s Harry Chapman was kept out by another fine save from Moore.
Two minutes from the break and Reading were ahead. Seizing on a Middlesbrough mistake the Royals struck quickly on the counter-attack, with Liburd showing superb strength and pace to outstrip the Middlesbrough defence. The forward then retained his composure when faced by Coddington with a classy finish, curling the ball beautifully into the bottom corner from a tight angle.
Boro nearly equalised immediately when Chapman again threatened. Moore denied the Boro man once more though to keep the Royals ahead going into the break.
After just two minutes of the second half Middlesbrough had drawn level. Keeping possession at the back, a mishit clearance fell to the feet of Jordan Jones, who reacted quickly to the mistake responding with a clinical run and finish.
The goal seemed to lift Boro who went on to create a host of chances, being denied multiple times by Moore in the Reading goal. The most spectacular of these saves saw Matthew Elsdon denied, when the keeper tipped his flicked effort over the bar.
A late flourish from the Royals, down to ten men for the last few minutes after Dominic Hyam limped off with all subs used, came to nothing. Boro defended stoutly ensuring they earned a share of the spoils.
Middlesbrough: Coddington; Bennett, Halliday (Capt.), Elsdon, Kitching, Tinkler, Chapman (Cooke 82), Johnson, Morelli (Fewster 76), Jones, Mondal.
Unused subs: Fryer, McGinley, Jowers.
Reading: Moore; Long, Griffin, Shaughnessy, Hyam, Sweeney, Semedo (Owusu 53), Kuhl (Capt.), Liburd (Cardwell 76), Kelly, Novakovich (Fridjonsson 76).
Unused subs: Ward; Zules.