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U21s sign off promotion-winning season with narrow defeat

15 May 2015

Reading U21s 0-1 West Bromwich Albion U21s

Martin Kuhl's U21s were unable to cap-off their promotion-winning season with victory as they suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at Madejski Stadium on Friday evening.

Three points would have secured a tenth win in twelve games but an early goal from the Baggies' Adil Nabi was the difference between the two sides on the night.

Reading probed for a leveler for the remainder of the contest, with Aaron Kuhl, Craig Tanner and Andrija Novakovich all going close but a deserved equaliser just eluded them.

The first sight of goal in the game came from the Royals. Tanner's corner was laid out to the edge of the area to an awaiting Kuhl, who controlled it well with his chest and sent a well-struck volley into the outstretched arms of West Brom keeper Ethan Ross.

Reading were looking comfortable in possession with telling spells of pressure, but shortly after the ten-minute mark it was West Brom's number 10, Adil Nabi, who struck the first blow. Taking on his man down the left, he weaved in and out before slotting home past the Royals' Lewis Ward.

In spite of this early set-back, it was still Reading who looked the more dangerous side going forwards. Liam Kelly found time to turn and shoot 20 yards out but again Ross was there to deny the Royals their equaliser.

Next it was the turn of Sean Long to stride forwards, latching onto a knockdown from Kuhl but his low cross drifted agonizingly beyond the run of Novakovich.

The last action of the first-half saw Nana Owusu break forward, taking on two defenders down the left before rippling a shot into the side netting. Despite having had seen plenty of the ball, the hosts were unable to break-down the deep lying Baggies defence before the break.

The first card of the game was branded six minutes into the second half. A yellow for Kuhl after referee Mr. Rathbone deemed his challenge on the Jonathan Leko to be an unfair one. Lewis Ward gathered the subsequent free-kick with ease.

Back down the other end, and in similar fashion to the first-half, a left-sided corner for the Royals was again drifted out to Kuhl. With the same composure as the first, he controlled well but his deflected shot whispered inches over the bar.

Previous to that chance, Craig Tanner found himself unmarked and with space in the box. Long cut the ball back to feet but the 20 year old was unable to find the target with his weaker foot.

With almost ten minutes to go, Martin Kuhl's men must have thought they’d found their break through. Liam Kelly's corner was met by a glancing header from substitute Coner Shaughnessy but West Brom had men on the line and where able to clear.

Shortly after, a shot from goalscorer Adil Nabi brought-out a smart save from the Ward and minutes later, the young keeper was on hand once again to deny the Baggies their second of the night.

A last-gasp chance fell to Craig Tanner seven yards out when his shot was blocked by a brilliant point-black save from Ethan Ross to deny the Royals anything from of the game.

Not the result that they would have wanted, but it won't put a damper on what has been a hugely successful season in gaining promotion to Premier League Division One for Reading's U21s side.

Reading: Ward, Long, Griffin, Keown, Sweeney, Tshibola (Fridjonsson 65), Kuhl, Kelly, Owusu (Shaughnesy 74), Tanner, Novakovich
Not Used: Legg, Hyam, Cardwell

West Brom: Ross, Ezewele (Edwards 31), Garmston, Cleet, Fitzwater, Howkins, Leko, S Nabi, Roberts (Wright 65), A Nabi, Campbell
Not Used: Hall, Donnellan, Hallahan

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