Liburd on the scoresheet in Everton stalemateRowan Liburd netted his 10th goal of the season for the Under-21s as the Royals draw 1-1 with Everton at Adams Park.
Ultimately his goal was only worth a point, as defender Callum Connolly replied before the break to settle the scoring and earn the visitors a draw.
Liburd had a chance beforehand when he was released by Josh Barrett but goalkeeper Mateusz Hewelt spread himself well, and at the other end Conor McAleny fired over from a tight angle before going on a mazy run and drawing a sprawling save from Royals stopper Stuart Moore.
The breakthrough goal came shortly before the half-hour – a disguised pass from Barrett for the overlapping Shane Griffin allowed the full-back to get to the byline, pick out Liburd with a low cross, and the forward finished left-footed into the empty net with the goalkeeper stranded.
Everton came close to finding an instant reply though Tom Davies, but his shot on the stretch was marginally by the far post. But they didn’t have long to wait for the equalising goal – an inswinging free-kick deflected kindly into Connolly’s path, allowing him to stab in from six yards.
Barrett came close to opening his U21 account after the break – he wriggled clear and curled a left-footed effort towards the far corner from the apex of the box, and missed marginally.
Goalkeeper Moore made a tremendous save at the other end to protect parity – a short corner routine from the Toffeemen allowed McAleny to fire from a tight angle, and the stopper reacted instinctively to turn the deflected effort around the post.
Even when Moore was beaten, the post came to the rescue – visiting midfielder Kieran Dowell fashioned space to shoot after a neat interchange around the area, only to see the effort hit the inside of the woodwork and ricochet across the face of goal.
Reading had a number of chances to win it – first Barrett had a stinging effort met with a fingertip save from the Everton stopper, and Liam Kelly’s resultant corner Dominic Hyam had a header cleared off the line.
Then Barrett intercepted the ball high upfield and almost found a cross for Harry Cardwell, only for goalie Hewelt to pluck the ball away mid-flight, and Nana Owusu’s shot was too close to the stopper after Andy Rinomhota had sent his teammate on his way.
The best chance came when a neat outside-of-the-boot pass from Sammi Fridjonsson dissected the Everton defence, but Lisandro Semedo fired high over the bar from close range as the visitors desperately tracked back to recover.
In the final minute of the 90, the Toffees almost pinched the points for themselves by McAnely fired just past the upright when a corner was only half cleared. Instead both teams left with honours even from the Adams Park fixture.
Full-time: Reading U21 1 Everton U21 1
Reading U21: Moore, Keown, Griffin, Hyam, Sweeney, Fridjonsson, Barrett, Rinomhota, Owusu (Semedo), Liburd (Kelly), Cardwell.
Unused subs: Ward, Watson, Jules.