Reading's Under-18s were beaten 4-2 by Crystal Palace in a breathless FA Youth Cup tie at Madejski Stadium on Thursday night.
The visitors raced into a two-goal lead in the first half, before Reading fought back to take the teams into the half-time break level.
Palace then struck twice in quick succession in the second period to restore their advantage, and were able to hold onto their lead and advance to the Fourth Round.
A strong U18s squad was selected in Michael Donaldson and Mikele Leigertwod's side at Madejski Stadium, with several of the line-up having already impressed at U23 level for the Royals so far this season.
And it was a quick start from the young Royals, with Reading dominating the early possession at Madejski Stadium on a cool, dry night on Thursday.
However, it was the visitors who took a surprise lead after just four minutes. In their first passage of possession in the game, Palace broke quickly as the ball found its way to Tetteh Quay Addy on the left flank.
Rather than shooting with Coniah Boyce-Clarke narrowing the angle, he opted to cut back to Brandon Aveiro, who shot high into the net and gave the visitors the advantage.
The match was being played at a frantic tempo in the early stages, with both teams understably adrenaline-fuelled as they played in the prestigious knockout competition.
However, a free-kick from the left flank would bring Palace's second goal on the quarter-hour mark.
Aveiro floated the set piece to the far post, which was headed back into a dangerous area. Jashaun Chamberlin-Gayle's initial effort was blocked on the line by Jeriel Dorsett, but skipper Malachi Boateng was there to follow up and poke in from six yards.
Our Under-18s had come back from three goals behind twice in their Premier League Cup group campaign, and overcame a two-goal deficit to beat Tottenham at the weekend, so similar resilience and fight was required at Madejski Stadium.
And shortly afterwards, Reading had a way back into the match. The youngsters put a good passing move together on the left flank, and the ball eventually found Lynford Sackey in the box, who jinked into space and fired across goal into the right-hand corner. Game on at the Madejski.
Up the other end, Palace almost restored their two-goal lead immediately as a ball from the right from Pierrick Keutcha found Rob Street in the box. He shot from point-blank range, but Coniah Boyce-Clarke pulled off a superb save to keep the deficit to one.
Thierry Nevers, who already has five goals to his name for our Under-23s this season, had a chance to pull Reading level shortly afterwards. Conor Lawless threaded through to Nevers out wide, with the winger cutting inside and letting fly right-footed, but he cleared the crossbar.
A fine finish would have the Royals level just before the half-hour mark, though. A cross came in from the right, and Palace were unable to clear as the ball looped up towards the far post - Claudio Osorio was under it, and produced a superb volleyed finish past Jacob Russell to equalise for Reading.
Play eventually settled down to a degree at the Madejski after a breathless opening, with both teams on an even keel once more - with the next goal appearing crucial in the tie.
A late chance in the half for Reading saw a shot dragged wide in the last action of the half, drawing to a close with the teams locked at two goals apiece.
Half time | Reading U18 2-2 Crystal Palace U18
A cagey opening few minutes of the second period was quickly replaced with the intensity that typified the first half, Dorsett forging a path into the attacking third before playing to Lawless on the left, who struck low and forced a save from Russell with an outstretched leg.
But another counter-attack would bring a third for the visitors. Keutcha surged forward and past several blue and white shirts, before cutting back to Street in space in the box. He had time to pick his head up and shoot, finding the bottom corner.
In response, Pedro Neves became incensed when he was upended on the 18-yard line, with the referee awarding a free-kick on the very edge of the area - which Palace were able to clear.
But rather than equalise, Palace found themselves two goals in front once more. A free-kick 25 yards out was looked at by Aveiro, and he bent over the ball into the top corner - giving Boyce-Clarke no chance in the Reading goal.
Donaldson and Leigertwood's side had to rally themselves once more for the channel of overturning another deficit at Madejski Stadium, with Jordan Hamilton introduced in place of Neves.
It became tough going for the young Royals as Palace began to try and hold onto their lead, with opportunities becoming fewer and farther between as Alfie Anderson and Nelson Abbey were both sent on for Reading.
The match grew ever more frustrating as time passed for our Scholars, as the visitors looked to slow the pace of play and limit the opportunities Reading had to break forward.
Reading did have an opportunity to pull one back when Anderson's low pass into the area split the Palace defence as he found Osorio. The attacker turned and shot quickly, but had more time than he perhaps anticipated and shot straight at Russell.
A battling performance from the young Royals was sadly not rewarded on the night, as Palace put themselves in the hat for Round Four to face the winners of Nottingham Forest and Wolves.
Full time | Reading U18 2-4 Crystal Palace U18
Reading U18: Boyce-Clarke, Sackey (Anderson 68), Hewitt (c), Dorsett (Abbey 65), Samuels, Pendlebury, Lawless, Osorio, Neves (Hamilton 61), Nevers, McGiff.
Subs: Collins, Melvin-Lambert.
Goals: Sackey (20), Osorio (27)
Crystal Palace U18: Jacob Russell, Thistleton (Jude Russell 46), Adaramola, Sobowale, Chamberlin-Gayle, Boateng (c), Quay Addy, Steele (Kymani Gordon 79), Aveiro (Mooney 88), Keutcha, Street.
Subs: Whitworth, Ajayi, Siddick, Smith.
Goals: Aveiro (4, 60), Boateng (16), Street (55)
Referee: Mr S Mansfield