Royals start 2017 with a bangReading U23s picked up an impressive home win at Hogwood Park to get their 2017 off to the best possible start, triumphing 4-2 against visitors Southampton last Friday.
Martin Kuhl’s men wrapped up a superb triumph win over the Saints in Premier League 2 - goals from Andrija Novakovich, Joseph Mendes and Rob Dickie put the Royals well in control in the opening period, and despite a second half comeback from the Saints, Novakovich was on hand to secure our fourth goal and the three points from the penalty spot.
Reading got off to a fine start at Hogwood and after nine minutes the hosts had a deserved lead, after a whipped corner caused confusion in the Southampton area. Novakovich was quickest to react to the delivery at the near post and steered the ball goalwards. The ball ricocheted off a Southampton defender and into the net from close range to give Reading the lead.
Eight minutes later and the Royals had a second; this time it was Mendes that was causing the Southampton defence problems, with the striker finding space on the right of the Saints area after a swift counter attack. The Frenchman latched onto the ball and applied a neat finish past opposition stopper Adam Parkes to double the scoreline as Reading took a real grasp of the match.
Despite the two-goal advantage, Reading showed no signs of letting up. A superb delivery from the right was picked up and converted by Novakovich, only for the American striker to be denied by the offside flag.
The Royals made two changes at the interval, as Tyler Frost and Danny Loader replaced Danzell Gravenberch and goalscorer Mendes.
Southampton made a brighter start to the second period, and almost found an immediate way back into the encounter when Jonathan Afolabi latched onto a loose ball across the Reading defence, but saw his strike at goal well saved by Jonathan Bond.
The Royals responded well to the Southampton threat however, and looked to have put the game beyond doubt when Rob Dickie netted the Reading third. A dangerous free-kick from deep was met by the captain at the far post, who then headed into an empty net to make it 3-0.
The visitors gave themselves a chance of getting back into the game when substitute Ryan Seager converted from the penalty spot to make the score 3-1.
No sooner had Seager finished his penalty, Reading had one of their own at the other end when Novakovich was pulled down in the area by Alfie Jones. The attacker brushed himself down to finish confidently from the spot and restore the host’s three goal advantage.
Despite another late goal from Southampton’s Ollie Cook, Martin Kuhl’s Royals held onto their lead to see out a 4-2 win against the Saints and put three valuable points on the Premier League 2 table.
Full time: Reading U23 4-2 Southampton U23
Reading U23: Bond, Sheppard, Medford-Smith (Hyam 81), Gravenberch, (Frost 45), Dickie, Jules, Rinomhota, Novakovich, Mendes (Loader 45), Barrett, Wieser.
Unused subs: Southwood, Keown.
Southampton U23: Parkes, Valery, Vokins, Little, Cook, Jones, Willard, O’Conner, Afolabi (Seager 63), Slattery, Johnson.
Unused subs: Wood, Cull, Rowthorn, MDlalose.