Bolton 1-1 ReadingLiam Kelly’s late free-kick rescued a share of the points for Reading as they drew 1-1 with Bolton Wanderers at the County Ground, Leyland on Monday night.
Substitute Kelly’s deflected effort cancelled out Rob Holding’s first-half strike and ensured that the Royals stay sixth in the U21s Premier League table, just four points off the summit.
Bolton took the lead when Holding slotted home at the far post, but Martin Kuhl’s side looked dangerous throughout with Tariqe Fosu thumping the woodwork, while Harry Cardwell and Andrija Novakovich also went close.
Reading’s pressure eventually told with Kelly’s 25-yard equaliser wrong-footing Manchester United loanee Ben Amos to extend the Royals' unbeaten run to three games.
Manager Kuhl, who made five changes to the team that beat Huddersfield 1-0 last Tuesday to progress through to the semi-finals of the U21s Premier League Cup, saw his side start brightly and they had an early penalty shout as Fosu drew a clumsy challenge from a home defender, before Cardwell blazed an opportunity over the bar.
At the other end, Trotters midfielder Chris Lester looked lively but it was team-mate Holding who broke the deadlock as he found space at the back post to fire home.
The experienced Tom Eaves was next to go close for the home side as they threatened to double their advantage, but Royals keeper Dan Lincoln stood tall and forced the Bolton man to skew his finish wide.
Further efforts from Matija Boben and Elliot Newby followed either side of the break, but wayward finishing and a superb fingertip save from Lincoln kept the score at 1-0.
The Royals were indebted to Lincoln again as the Reading stopper denied Lester at his near post and Fosu almost made the most of this reprieve by striking the post with a superb 25-yard free-kick. The ball ricocheted across the area but no Reading boot could apply the necessary finishing touch and the follow-up was scuffed wide.
Cardwell attempted an audacious long-range effort as the Royals attack gathered momentum and Fosu continued to look threatening as Reading pressed for an equaliser, having another effort blocked, before second-half substitute Novakovich flashed the rebound over the bar.
The pressure was eventual rewarded when Kelly fired his low free-kick goalwards, with a wicked deflection leaving Amos stranded and the ball nestled in the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Despite late pressure, the Royals were unable to snatch a winner but they remain a place above Bolton in the table and within touching distance of the front-runners.
Bolton Wanderers: Amos, Holding, Sellers, Taylor, Boben, Lester, Thomas (76), Campbell-Young, Eaves (Newby 46), Iliev, Woodland (Ball 80). Not used: Ball, Campbell, Likoy-Elumba.
Reading: Lincoln, Keown, Long, Kuhl, Hvam, Sweeney, Stacey, Fridjonsson (Kelly 70), Cardwell, Edwards (Novakovich 65), Fosu. Not used: Owusu, Ward, Shaughnessy.