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U21s downed in tight tie at Man City

22 January 2016

Report from Academy Stadium

Our Under-21s led away at Man City, but ultimately fell to a 3-1 defeat come the final whistle on Friday in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League.

Harry Cardwell’s opener had Reading in the ascendency, but it only sparked a quick response from the hosts as Ashley Smith-Brown and Aleix Garcia got City ahead.  Bersant Celina capped the win for the Mancunians in the final 10 minutes.

The first half ended goalless – neither goalkeeper was overworked over the course of the first 45 minutes, as Liam Kelly and Celina saw efforts blocked at either end.  Kelly did find the net – heading in a centre by Cardwell, after finding some space – but celebrations were nipped in the bud by the assistant’s raised flag.

Winger Sinan Bytyqi gave the hosts a chance to go ahead before the interval when he drew a foul in the box – but Lewis Ward was equal to Celina’s spot-kick, palming to safety, ensuring the deadlock remained at the break.

On the hour, Cardwell grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and opened the scoring – nicking the ball near the half-way mark, the striker drove forward and fired past stopper Angus Gunn to give the Royals the advantage.

The lead was short-lived; Smith-Brown collected the ball for the hosts and struck in the leveller from the edge of the area.  And then Garcia’s stunning half-volley – striking right into the top corner from 25 yards – completed a turnaround within the space of eight minutes.

In the final 10 minutes, Celina wrapped up the scoring – slotting in after a driving run by Dutchman Rodney Kongolo.

Full-time: Man City U21 3 Reading U21 1

Reading U21:
Ward, Stacey, Long, Shaughnessy (Rinomhota 80), Hyam, Jules, Novakovich (Semedo 71), Kuhl, Cardwell, Kelly, Fosu.
Unused subs: Southwood, Watson, Husin.
Goal: Cardwell (61).

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