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Academy

Report | McCleary gets minutes as U23s draw friendly

Winger steps up recovery with hour of match time

11 September 2018

Garath McCleary played an hour of football as he stepped up his recovery from a long-term injury - as our U23s played a behind-closed-doors friendly against Portsmouth on Tuesday afternoon.

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Gabe Osho scored a second-half penalty to equalise for the Royals against a Pompey reserve side that mixed first-team players with youngsters in a mid-afternoon friendly.

Scott Marshall had a large squad at his disposal as his U23 side gear up for a match at Old Trafford on Friday night against their Manchester United equivalent in the Premier League 2, as 21 players had a run-out at Hogwood.

Portsmouth took the lead after 20 minutes as senior striker, Louis Dennis latched on to a lofted Bradley Lethbridge pass to fire into the bottom corner and give the visitors the lead.

Soon after, a cross from McCleary was headed into the path of centre-back Tom Holmes He attempted an audacious shot from 30 yards - which wasn't far away as it dipped just over the bar.

McCleary was soon involved again as Cameron Green swung a cross into the area, directing a header towards the bottom corner and forcing a fantastic save from McGee, but the flag had already gone up for offside regardless.

Seconds after the restart, the Royals should have been level. Green crossed for Adam Liddle at the near post, he helped it across goal but no Reading shirts were there to apply the finishing touch at the key moment.

Liddle went close again moments later, getting his head to a cross from Teddy Howe - he got over the ball but it bounced just wide.

Up the other end, though, a neat Pompey passing move on the edge of the Royals' area was almost finished off superbly by Danny Rose (No, not the Tottenham player!) But his effort clipped the top of the crossbar, with Jokull Andrésson well beaten.

Marshall rang the changes on the hour mark, changing the entire outfield line-up bar Jack Nolan - with McCleary getting safely through with valuable minutes under his belt.

The equaliser came as Ben House, fresh off the bench, was too quick for his marker and he drew a foul in the area - with the referee not hesitating in pointing straight to the spot.

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Osho, already with three goals to his name in the Premier League 2 from centre-back, stepped up to the spot and duly sent goalkeeper McGee the wrong way in a confident penalty to level proceedings in the friendly.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, a cross-field pass set Josh Barrett clean through on goal, shooting early but the on-rushing McGee made himself a tough target to beat and pulled off a superb save against the youngster.

Osho was to thank for his defensive duties at the death as well, getting back when Portsmouth broke forward at pace on the counter-attack and getting a crucial sliding block to stop a dangerous cross in the area.

Next up for the young Royals is a trip to the second-biggest stadium in the country, Old Trafford, under the lights on Friday night to take on Manchester United in the PL2 - 7pm kick-off.

Reading U23: Southwood (J Andrésson HT), Howe (Balogun 60), Holmes (Osho 60), Odimayo (Burley 60), Green (Medford-Smith 60), Sidoel (Shokunbi 60), Coleman (Omolabi 60), McCleary (Wallace 60), Frost (Barrett 60), Nolan, Liddle (House 60).
Goal: Osho 65 (P)

Portsmouth Reserves: McGee, Smith, Mnoga, Dandy, Haunstrup, May, Rose, Lethbridge, Dennis, Donohue, Mason.
Subs: Pitman, Flint, Johnston, Whiting, Read, Kavanagh, Kelly
Goal: Dennis 21


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