Reading U23’s play-off push took a hit as they fell to a resounding 4-2 defeat against Middlesbrough U23 at Bearwood Park.
In a game that had it all, two own-goals and two penalties, it was the visitors from the North East who came out on top, with Mehmet Ali’s left to rue their missed chances in Berkshire.
The Royals broke the deadlock after 21 minutes with a free-kick that came as a result of a Hayden Hackney foul. Ryan East swung in the resulting set piece and before it could meet a Reading man, Boro defender Jack Robinson headed into his own net.
Just two minutes later the visitors were given a chance to respond immediately as Royals stopper Coniah Boyce-Clarke raced into a one-on-one foot race only to commit a foul inside the area.
Tyrone O’Neill stepped up for Boro to convert beyond Boyce-Clarke who got a finger tip to the shot that nestled its’ way into the bottom left corner.
Minutes before the interval Boro had shouts for a second penalty waved away, just seconds after Boyce-Clarke had produced a stunning save to deny Sam Folarin from close range.
Half-time: Reading U23 1-1 Middlesbrough U23
Two minutes after the hour mark, Boro were awarded another penalty as Boyce-Clarke again brought down his man inside the area, but this time to the Royals keeper got down well to make amends with a save that denied O’Neill a second of the afternoon.
Boro soon had that third though as after 68 minutes Sam Folarin raced towards Michael Stickland before cutting inside his man to slot home a low effort from the edge of the box.
Twelve minutes later the Teesiders made it four, and Folarin got his second as he beat Omri Luzon to a through ball before tapping into the net beyond the onrushing Boyce-Clarke.
One minute into stoppage time, second-half substitute Augustus McGiff was pulled down in the area, and up stepped captain Ryan East to convert from the spot. The midfielder's initial effort was saved by Brynn in the Boro net but East stabbed home on the follow up to half the deficit.
Full-time: Reading U23 2-4 Middlesbrough U23
Next up for Mehmet Ali’s U23s is a visit from Burnley in a week’s time, Friday 16th April at 1pm.
Reading U23: Boyce-Clarke, Watson, Samuels, Luzon (McGiff 84’), Stickland, East (C), Leavy, Osorio (Lawless 65’), Azeez, Onen, Nevers (Camara 65’)
Unused subs: Holden.
Yellow: Onen 34’
Scorers: Robinson OG 21’, East 90+1
Middlesbrough U23: Brynn (C), Sykes, Kokolo, Hackney, Kpouhomouh, Robinson, Gibson, Malley, O’Neill, Fletcher, Folarin.
Unused subs: Kiernan, Green, Williams, Cornett, Popple.
Yellows: Hackney 21’, Sykes 30’
Scorers: O’Neill 24’, Watson OG 56’, Folarin 68’ 80’