First-half goals by Josh Barrett and Jordan Holsgrove were enough to give Reading’s Under-23s a 2-0 win against West Bromwich Albion on Monday evening.
The hosts included Scotland international Oliver Burke and fellow first-teamer Sam Field in their starting XI at Aggborough, while the Royals had a youthful complexion with four players from Under-18 group named as starters.
Burke created the first chance of the game when he burst towards the right flank – a low cross just evaded teammate Tahvon Campbell, as 17-year-old defender Tom Holmes just did enough to ease him out.
And Holmes was involved at the other end when the first goal came. A smart pass into Tyler Frost saw the midfielder take over, who in turn allowed Barrett to take possession. Shifting the ball onto his left, the attacker rifled low and hard into the far corner for his fourth goal in three games.
The second goal followed just four minutes later. Joel Rollinson played a short corner with Under-18 teammate Holsgrove, who cut off the right and flashed a whirling effort beyond Brad House’s desperate dive.
The closest that the Baggies went to levelling before the break was a Finn Azaz volley, after a left-flank corner had been initially cleared by Royals skipper Gabriel Osho, but it was a yard past George Legg’s post.
After the break, Campbell had the best of the hosts’ limited opportunities when he bent an effort into the welcome arms of Legg, while Frost could have extended the Royals’ lead when he received from Jake Sheppard, cut inside, and lashed goalwards – only for the fingtertips of House to deny him.
But it ultimately wound up as a 2-0 victory, sending Scott Marshall’s side up to second in the standings.
Full-time: West Bromwich Albion U23 0-2 Reading U23
West Bromwich Albion U23: House, Melbourne, Martinez, Jameson, Soleman, Field (Brown 74), Bradley, Clayton-Phillips (McCourt 68), Azaz, Burke (Tulloch HT), Campbell.
Unused subs: Przybeck, Pierce.
Reading U23: Legg, Holmes, Medford-Smith, Osho, Burley, Sheppard, East, Frost, Rollinson (Howe 75), Holsgrove, Barrett.
Unused subs: Rosario, Shokunbi, Moore, Buchanan.