Reading’s Under-23s sunk Leeds United by a 3-2 scoreline at Bearwood Park on Friday afternoon, thanks to goals by Sam Smith, Nahum Melvin-Lambert and Ryan East.
The game was less than 10 minutes old when the scores were opened – East picked up the ball in his own half and strode towards half-way, before releasing a pass which bisected the visitors’ defence to find Smith on the run. The flag stayed down, and the forward slotted past the onrushing goalkeeper Elia Caprile to get Reading ahead.
And that’s how the scores stayed until late in the first half, when Leeds levelled. Imari Samuels was punished for a foul just outside the area, wide to the Royals’ right, and it was Max Dean who applied the finishing touch as Stuart McKinstry flashed a low centre into the area.
In reply, it was a set-piece that put Reading ahead on the hour mark. Oli Pendlebury’s cross was turned behind for a corner by Kris Moore… but the respite was only temporary as Ethan Bristow’s inswinging delivery was guided in by first-half sub Melvin-Lambert – even with his shirt being tugged, he found space at the edge of the six-yard box to strike at waist-height.
The lead was doubled five minutes later; this time, Conor Lawless rode a challenge and drove centrally into the area, before neatly laying off to East. The midfielder shifted the ball onto his left boot and drilled hard and low, beating the goalkeeper and despite the best efforts of defender Oliver Casey on the goal-line, the net still bulged.
Josh Galloway made things interesting by grabbing one back for the visitors; the Royals couldn’t quite clear their lines as the ball pinballed around and when a shot came in from outside the area by a Leeds player, it ended up being trapped by the Scotsman who instead swivelled and pinged past Jokull Andresson in the Reading net.
Leeds made Reading work for the win in the final 20 minutes, putting on some sustained spells of pressure, but the defence stood strong. Dean had a good opportunity but Andresson pulled off a smart reaction save, and then the goalie showed safe hands as the game entered stoppage time to deny McKinstry a late equaliser.
The final whistle signalled two wins and a draw from the last three fixtures, as the Royals went level with Leeds in the early Premier League 2 standings.
Full-time: Reading U23 3-2 Leeds United U23
Reading U23: Andresson, Watson, Abbey, Samuels (Dorsett 66), Bristow, Pendlebury, East, Lawless, Onen, Azeez (Melvin-Lambert 34), Smith (Hamilton 79).
Unused subs: Holden, Hewitt.