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Report | Late Danny double sends U23s top of PL2

Frantic second half sees Reading take three points

12 April 2019

A Danny Loader double in the last five minutes saw Reading's Under-23s turn the match around against Aston Villa, winning 3-2 at Adams Park.

Michael Olise had levelled for the Royals shortly after Jacob Ramsey put Aston Villa in front, but Villa took the lead once more as Cameron Archer swept in from close range.

Colin Odutayo was sent off for the visitors with 15 minutes to go, before Loader's brace sent the young Royals to the top of the Premier League 2, Division 2.

Saeid Ezatolahi was in the line-up for the young Royals, making his comeback from an injury that has kept him out of action since September. 

And it was the Royals who started brightly, with Tyler Frost feeding Ramarni Medford-Smith on the edge of the Villa box, drilling a low shot straight at Sam Lomax in the visiting goal. Straight afterwards, Michael Olise slid a low ball through to Danny Loader, whose effort was tipped around the post by Lomax.

Scott Marshall's side were playing with confidence in the early stages, keeping Villa at arm's length in possession - but unable to force an early breakthrough in Wycombe.

Villa rarely threatened early on, their closest half-chance coming when Lewis Brunt lofted over the top for Tyreik Wright to chase. Tom Holmes was on hand to guide the ball back to Coniah Boyce-Clarke, however, who came off his line to smother.

There have been some high-scoring encounters between these two teams in recent memory, such as a 4-3 thriller at Villa Park in last season's play-offs in the Premier League 2, but the first half was an altogether more guarded affair - with chances at a premium.

Loader fired from the edge of the area for the Royals, with Lomax able to catch after the ball fizzed through the crowded area.

It was a half in which neither goalkeeper was truly troubled, and the teams went in level at the break after a cagey half of football.

Half time | Reading U23 0-0 Aston Villa U23

Ezatolahi was replaced by Ethan Coleman at the break, with the Iranian completing 45 minutes on his comeback from injury.

It was a quiet start to the second half, before Olise picked up possession 25 yards out, used his trickery to get past three Villa defenders. He worked his way into shooting range, bending a right-footed effort narrowly over the crossbar. Great work that went unrewarded from the 17-year-old senior debutant.

Reading had a fantastic chance to take the lead on the hour mark, when Holmes' vision saw him spot a ball to Medford-Smith in plenty of space. The goalkeeper was off his line, the Royals full-back chipped him, and his effort bounced a matter of inches wide of the post.

On the break, it was the visitors who took the lead - completely against the run of play. Odutayo, who had just come on for Villa, cut back for Jacob Ramsey eight yards out, who swept in under Boyce-Clarke to put the Royals behind.

But Villa's lead would last less than two minutes. Reading came back at Villa and Olise got into a shooting position outside the box. He lashed a strike that took a heavy deflection over Lomax and in. Game on at Adams Park.

But a defensive mix-up would gift the visitors the lead once more with 20 minutes remaining. A cross into the box was deflected, Boyce-Clarke slipped on his way to claim the ball, leaving him powerless to block Cameron Archer, who pounced on the loose ball to fire in.

Before you could take a breath, Villa were down to 10. Odutayo flung his arm out when challenging for a ball, catching Osho and the referee didn't hesitate in handing him a straight red card.

Reading pushed men forward and forced a corner, which was swung into the path of Loader - whose header rattled the crossbar. What had been a tight encounter was suddenly all to play for.

Holmes became a centre-back who you could have mistaken for a striker when he powered a right-footed shot at goal from 25 yards. The top corner was the destination, but Lomax flew across his goal to make a superb save.

Shortly afterwards, a Holmes ball across goal only needed the vital touch from Adam Liddle, but Lomax was there again to deny him from point-blank range on the line. 

Three minutes from time, the pressure finally told. Loader picked it up in the area, got his head up and fired a shot into the ground that finally beat Lomax into the bottom corner - with time remaining to find a winner.

And that's exactly what the young Royals did. In fine style, too. Olise picked his head up and found an inch-perfect cross onto the head of Loader - Lomax clawed at it, but it was already over the line and the young Royals sent themselves top of the league.

Full time | Reading U23 3-2 Aston Villa U23

Reading U23: Boyce-Clarke, Howe, Holmes, Osho (c), Odimayo (Liddle 74), Medford-Smith, Ezatolahi (Coleman HT), Holsgrove, Frost, Olise, Loader.
Subs: Driscoll, Burley.
Goals: Olise (67), Loader (87, 90+2)

Aston Villa U23: Lomax, Walker, Rowe, Revan, Bridge, Clarke (c), Wright (Pressley 26), Brunt (Burton 89), Archer, Ramsey, Vassilev (Odutayo 63).
Subs: Onodi, Pressley, Birch.
Goals: Ramsey (65), Archer (71)
Red: Odutayo


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