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Report | Danny double rescues point in Europe!

Loader brace earns point in Premier League International Cup

24 October 2018

Reading's Under-23s earned a hard-fought point against Sparta Prague at Madejski Stadium, to keep up their unbeaten start in the Premier League International Cup.

A win in their final group match against Feyenoord in December could see Scott Marshall's young Royals through to the knockout stages of the competition, after beating Leicester in their first encounter.

Danny Loader's late equaliser was his second of the night, and enough to earn a 2-2 draw against the youngsters from the Czech top tier side.

Reading were dominant in the first half, controlling possession and having the better chances against European opposition in RG2, with Josh Barrett shooting nicely on the turn, but Milan Heca was able to catch comfortably.

Barrett rifled a strike low to the goalkeeper's left soon after, forcing a smart stop - before the corner broke to skipper Ryan East on the edge of the area, but could only fire his effort over the bar.

Barrett appeared to be a solid attacking outlet for the Royals in the first half, beating his marker before getting fouled well within shooting range outside the area.

The winger stepped up to fire in the set-piece, with his strike heading towards the top corner before Heca intervened and saved well.

Joel Rollinson then played in Loader in the area, who shot first time but Heca got down to it and parried. Barrett hung up an enticing corner in the middle of the area, with Tom McIntyre rising highest but his header cleared the top of the woodwork.

The first chance the visitors had came right on the stroke of half-time, with a free-kick from 20 yards by Kopasek beating the Reading wall and George Legg in goal, but the ball struck the crossbar and stayed out in a let-off for the Royals.

Half-time | Reading U23 0-0 Sparta Prague B

It was the perfect start to the second period for the Royals, with the referee pointing to the spot as Loader was bundled over in the area by Sparta captain Marian Burda.

The England U19 striker stepped up to strike the penalty, but had his initial effort saved low to the goalkeeper's right - although he couldn't keep hold of it and Loader was there to poke in the rebound to give the Royals a deserved lead.

Full-back Teddy Howe was full of running on the right flank, managing to go on a weaving 80-yard drive through the pitch and work his way into the Sparta penalty area, he tried a cross but a defender got back to cover at the last.

Ramarni Medford-Smith was also providing good service into the area from the left, whipping in a strong cross into the path of Ben House - whose header could only loop over the bar.

However Reading's lead only lasted six minutes, with the visitors breaking forward against the run of play. A cross came in from the right to the waiting Ondrej Novotny in the area, who fired into the roof of the net past leg to level matters.

It wasn't long before the Royals fell behind either - with the visitors looking potent in attack when afforded the opportunities to break forward. Konopasek took the Reading defence out of commission on the wing, before squaring across to Vojtech Patrak from close range, who duly tapped into the open goal.

The Royals were never going to give up on the night, with the final 15 minutes of normal time being a barrage of pressure coming from Scott Marshall's side.

Loader had the pick of the chances before heading into added time, working his way around the defence and finding space to the right of goal, shooting back across the face but his shot could only trickle wide.

First-year scholar Michael Olise also went close after coming off the bench on the night, with the ball breaking to the young midfielder in the area. He found half-a-yard and tried a shot to the far post, going just wide.

It wasn't until the fifth minute of added time until the Royals got their equaliser. A neat passing move between Loader, substitute Darren Sidoel and House was only half-cleared by Konopasek, with Howe's follow-up saved onto the post - and Loader was there once again to pick up the scraps and head home from close range.

The Royals stay top of their group in the Premier League International Cup, having taken four points from their opening two matches.

Reading U23: Legg, Howe, Medford-Smith, East (C), Burley, McIntyre, Rollinson (Sidoel 65), Frost (Olise 73), House, Loader, Barrett (Nolan 73).
Subs: Driscoll, Odimayo, Liddle, Lawless.
Goals: Loader 51, 90+5

Sparta Prague B: Heca, Penc, Burda (C), Alhassan, Dudl, Cabadaj, Patrak (Snajdr 80), Novotny (Rynes 86), Konopasek, Wiesner (Simacek 44), Flak.
Subs: Janacek, Stetina, Alexandr.
Goals: Novotny 57, Patrak 66

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