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Rakels returns in 3-3 thriller for U23s

31 January 2017

Derby nip late equaliser in Premier League 2

Two goals by Andrija Novakovich and one by Tyler Frost wasn’t enough to get all three points for Reading in the Premier League 2 on Monday night, as Derby came from behind to nick a draw deep into added time at Adams Park.

The American forward had the Royals two up with goals either side of the break, but Calum Macdonald and Alex Babos netted for the Rams to get them back on terms.  Midfielder Frost re-established the lead almost immediately, but Mason Bennett pounced in the 95th minute to earn a point for the visitors.

Forward Deniss Rakels, who has been unavailable for selection since picking up an ankle injury in August, was named in the starting XI for Martin Kuhl’s side and completed 45 minutes as part of his return to fitness.

Derby had started strongly, and almost opened the score within seconds of kick-off – only for Kellan Gordon’s low centre to be turned past the far post.

Instead Frost was provider of the first goal; after some good hold-up play by front-man Sam Smith, the midfielder sent in a pinpoint delivery for Novakovich to convert in tidy fashion from close range – taking a touch to control, and another to lash high into the net on the swivel.

Rakels had the ball in the net on the half-hour mark, but the referee blew up for a foul on the goalkeeper by Novakovich after Smith had won an initial header from Ryan East’s set piece.

And it was another decisive break from the Royals soon after the restart that allowed Novakovich to cut in and lash home his and Reading’s second.  The striker received on the left before dancing past a few challenges and passing inside the near post beyond the wrong-footed goalkeeper.

But the visitors mustered a comeback when a solo run and finish by Macdonald cut their deficit to a single goal… and then Babos restored parity with a shot from the edge of the area which squeezed between Stuart Moore and the post from a corner routine.

The scores were level for merely a minute though – with roles reversed, this time it was Novakovich that provided the assist for Frost as he scampered down the right and sent in a cross, allowing the 17-year-old to restore the lead with a first-time finish.

It was a lead that could have been extended when sub Josh Barrett was teed up outside the area, by he missed the top corner by a fraction.

And Reading were made to pay with seconds left – a cut-back from the left-hand side was hammered in from 12 yards by Bennett.

Full-time: Reading U23 3-3 Derby County U23

Reading U23s: Moore, Howe, Medford-Smith, East (Bennett 83), Hyam, Dickie, Frost (Loader 77), Rakels (Barrett HT), Smith, Novakovich, Rinomhota.
Unused subs: Andresson, Ward.

Derby County U23s: Ravas, Santos, Macdonald, Bird (Mitchell-Lawson 86), Bateman, Cover, Gordon, Elsnik, Jakobsen (Cresswell 72), Babos, Bennett.
Unused subs: Barnes, Bogle, Edwards.

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