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U23s fall to German giants

14 December 2016

Royals defeated at Madejski Stadium

An entertaining and competitive Premier League International Cup fixture at Madejski Stadium was decided by second-half goals by Sidney Friede and Nico Beyer, as visitors Hertha Berlin all but secured their place in the next round of the competition.

Reading carved out some presentable chances either side of the break – but it was the German outfit who were most clinical in front of goal, as Friede’s hammered strike was followed by a set-piece goal by defender Beyer.

Andrija Novakovich registered the first opportunity of note – his trickery on the left allowed him a shot from a wide angle, but it was blocked behind.  On the other flank, soon after, Jake Sheppard nipped in to win possession high upfield but placed his shot into the arms of goalkeeper Ruben Aulig.

Hertha were certainly stringing together some neat exchanges and looking threatening, but Royals stopper Luke Southwood was largely untroubled.  Midfielder Ryan East put the ball past Aulig, but not before the referee halted play for a hand-ball.

Striker Sam Smith was the post’s width away from grabbing the opener, as he glanced a delightful Sheppard cross against the woodwork.  Novakovich hit an overhead kick as the guests struggled to clear, but it was well held by the goalkeeper.

A bold run by Hertha midfield man Ugur Oglucan Tezel resulted in a shot being blocked, and Farid Abderrahame was unfortunate to see a first-time effort cannon wide off a teammate.  And just before the break, Josh Barrett forced the goalkeeper into a low stop with a 25-yard free-kick.

The Royals started the second half brightly and Barrett came close to scoring when set up by Novakovich, but had a chipped effort cleared off the line.

But Hertha’s dangerman Friede began to cause problems – he picked off a pass in midfield before driving at goal, squaring for Fabio Mirbach, and it needed a critical intervention by Dom Hyam to keep the parity.

However there was little Southwood could do when Nikos Zografrakis won the ball high upfield, laid off to Friede, who arrowed a strike in off the far post to open the scoring just before the hour.

A second followed ten minutes later, as Beyer rose highest to a corner by Hertha captain Dominik Pelivan to double the advantage.

The Royals pressed for a consolatory goal, but some smart defensive play meant that the German rearguard couldn’t be breached as Barrett almost released Smith in the Royals’ final involvement in the competition.

Full-time: Reading U23 0-2 Hertha Berlin U23

Reading U23: Southwood, Sheppard, Richards, Hyam, Andresson, Kuhl, East, Bennett (Vancooten 61), Barrett, Novakovich, Smith.
Unused subs: Tupper, Scheving, Burley, Wilson, Sparta.

Hertha BSC U23: Aulig, Mlynikowski, Henning, Friede, Abderrahmane, Zografrakis (Blumberg 68), Pelivan, Tezel, Mirbach (Cakmak 74), Beyer, Ernesto (Covic 39).
Unused subs: Smarsh, Fuchs, Covic, Bektic, Akyol.
Goals: Friede (64), Beyer (74).

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