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Red Devils hold Royals U23 in action-packed match

28 November 2016

Reading held to 2-2 draw in Premier League 2 by Manchester United.

Reading Under-23s were held to a 2-2 draw at Adams Park by Manchester United in a close game in Premeir League 2 - despite a flurry of late chances at either end of the pitch to win it.

The Royals took the lead after 25 minutes through Dominic Hyam's close range strike, but two quick-fire goals from United, both from Josh Harrop, gave the visitors the lead at the break.

Reading were the better side in the second half and equalised early-on through Joseph Mendes when he converted from a couple of yards out.  Sean Goss rattled the woodwork for the visitors before Reading came within inches of winning the game through Sam Smith, but United held on as the Royals pushed for a winner that just would not come.

U23s boss Martin Kuhl named an attacking side to face the Red Devils with winger Callum Harriott coming into the side after making a second half appearance for the Royals on Saturday during the 2-1 Championship win over Bristol City. Mendes lead the line for the Royals as he continued his return to fitness following an injury he sustained earlier in the campaign.

The Royals nearly had the lead just three minutes in when Mendes was played through on goal with a ball over the top of the United defence. The striker brought the ball down well, but had his stabbed effort saved by the advancing Kieran O’Hara in the opposition goal, before Harriott’s fierce strike on the follow-up was well blocked to deny him the opening goal.

United responded well when a low cross from Harrop was cut-out athletically by Zak Jules in the heart of the Reading defence.  Moments later the Red Devils went close again, this time with a cross from the right flank. An in-swinging delivery saw Devonte Redmond rise to meet the ball, but his header bounced just wide of Southwood's right hand post as the Reading stopper watched on.

By this stage the visitors were beginning to look dangerous and almost had the lead when Scott McTominay saw his left footed effort fizz past the Reading goal.
 
As the half progressed the Royals began to build more of a foothold in the game, and 25 minutes in the hosts were in front. Joseph Mendes’ shot deflected kindly for Hyam in the United box, with the defender firing his effort into the empty net to hand Reading the opening goal of the night in a high tempo contest.

Within moments however United found a way back into the game when the ever lively McTominay was brought down by Luke Southwood as he raced through on the Reading goal. The referee pointed to the spot and forward Josh Harrop stepped up to coolly convert the spot-kick and level the scores.

A minute later and the score was turned on its head. Harrop again found the net when he was played through on goal after a fast flowing United move straight from the kick-off. Despite there being question marks over the goal for a potential offside, the effort stood and the Red Devils were ahead.

With the first half drawing to a close Andrija Novakovich went within a whisker of equalising for Reading after a fine run down the left wing. The wide man jinked inside onto his right foot creating space on the edge of the opposition box, before whipping an effort just over the United crossbar.

The second half saw Martin Kuhl’s men start on the front foot as his side went in search of an equaliser which didn’t take long to come. A Liam Kelly free-kick from wide caused the United defence all sorts of problems, and when Hyam recycled the ball with a cross back into the six yard box, Mendes was there to lash home a leveller. The striker took the opportunity well and left Red Devils' stopper O’Hara no chance with his finish to bring the scores back to 2-2.

With the Royals on the front foot it looked as though Jake Sheppard had given the home side the lead with just under 20 minutes to play. The full-back’s powerful run down the right hand side was too much for the opposing defence as he made space for himself on the angle inside the United box. His well hit drive had O’Hara beaten but rippled the side netting as it skimmed the outside of the post.

In a second half that was very tightly contested there were few chances for either side as the clock ticked into the last ten minutes. Just as it seemed the game was winding down, Sean Goss smashed a shot from distance which had Southwood beaten. The Midfielders’ effort rattled the Reading crossbar much to the relief of the Royals.

Reading had the best chances to win it however, with substitute Sam Smith looking dangerous. His shot on the angle was well saved by O’Hara and from the resulting corner Liam Kelly’s fine footwork created some room inside the United box. His low cross dribbled agonisingly across the face of the Red Devils' goal, but nobody could latch onto the ball to turn it home and United scrambled the ball clear.

With the last kick of the game Smith nearly won the match for Reading when he was played through one on one with the keeper. The former United striker rounded the Red Devils' stopper but his shot rolled onto the post and was hacked clear in the dying seconds, denying him a winner against his hometown club.

Full time: Reading U23 2-2 Manchester United U23

Reading U23: Southwood, Sheppard, Hyam, Jules, Richards, Kelly, Rinomhota, Harriott (Frost 63), Barrett, Mendes (Smith 75), Novakovich.
Unused subs: Tupper, East, Andresson.

Manchester United U23: O’Hara, Williams, Riley (El-Fitouri 21) , Tuanzebe, Poole (Olosunde 83), Goss, McTominay, Willock, Redmond, Harrop, Gribbin (Mitchell 83).
Unused subs: Moutha-Sebtaoui, Kehinde.

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