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Ahead of the game | U23s to battle Villa for play-off final

Semi-final at Villa Park awaits youngsters

30 April 2018

The Royals' U23s will be giving their all to secure a place in the Premier League 2 play-off final on Tuesday night, but face a tough obstacle firs

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Aston Villa U23 vs Reading U23
Tuesday 1st May 2018, 7pm kick-off
Villa Park
Premier League 2 play-off semi-final

Scott Marshall's Under-23s will be heading to face Aston Villa, who finished comfortably in 2nd place in the Premier League 2 Division Two table, in a one-legged play-off semi-final on Tuesday night.

A dramatic final day of league action saw the Royals overcome Stoke City 3-1 at Madejski Stadium last week, with a hat-trick from Sam Smith earning the points on the night.

That win was enough to earn 5th place in the table and a trip to Villa Park for the semi-final against a Villa side that were cruising in the Premier League 2, but defeats in their final two league matches will leave them wanting to bounce back against the Royals.

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It's certain to be a tight battle between the teams, with Marshall's side having taken all three points against the Villans at Madejski Stadium back in October - a brace from Josh Barrett, now on loan at Coventry City, earning a 2-1 victory on the night.

It wasn't a feat to be repeated in the reverse fixture in March, with Joseph Mendes opening the scoring for the Royals but the result was overturned by Kevin MacDonald's side. James Finnerty equalised before half-time, before an own goal from Teddy Howe in the second half saw the Royals behind.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy made the result safe 20 minutes from time with his strike to give Villa a 3-1 win at Walsall's Bescot Stadium.

The prize for victory in the semi-final is a trip to the Amex to face Brighton and Hove Albion's U23s, who overcame Middlesbrough 3-0 in the other semi-final, which took place on Friday night.

Winning the final would seal a return to the top tier of Under-23 football, but a stern test awaits the Royals in the semis in Villa.

For anyone looking to make the trip to Villa Park and watch the potential next generation of Royals, tickets will be available on the gate on Tuesday night.

We'll have you covered on all the usual Reading FC channels on the night, as we back the boys at Villa Park!


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