We were chasing the game from almost the beginning as Sam Smith finished off a Royals counter-attack with less than two minutes played.
Conor Davis’ solo strike doubled the visitors’ lead while we again made a slow start after the interval, conceding to Davis within 60 seconds of the beginning of the second half, with Josh Barrett completing the scoring from the penalty spot following Edwards’ set piece.
Young goalkeeper Brandon Austin made his Barclays Under-18 Premier League debut between the sticks for us while there was a return from injury for central defender Japhet Tanganga, who stepped off the bench in the second half for his first competitive action in six months.
The Royals were composed at the back throughout and it didn’t take them long to establish an advantage. Ryan Loft’s shot was blocked as we tried to force our way through, but the visitors countered down the right through Tyler Frost and Smith finished off the move from a central position less than two minutes in.
The closest we went to getting off the mark in the opening stages was when Charlie Owens curled a free-kick wide of the near post but, after Austin produced a good block to deny Barrett, it was the visitors who continued in the ascendancy as Davis twisted and turned his way into a shooting position before rifling past the keeper for 2-0 in the 20th minute.
Edwards’ long-range effort following a well-timed sliding challenge from Zenon Stylianides just cleared the crossbar shortly after the half-hour mark while Stylianides himself forced a low stop from Reading goalkeeper Luke Southwood three minutes before the break – but we still seemed to be lacking that cutting edge as the interval arrived.
Keanan Bennetts replaced Armani Daly in attacking midfield for the second half, switching between the left and right flanks, but any hopes of a comeback were quickly extinguished as Owens was caught in possession centrally and the ball was ferried out to Davis on the left side of the box, who clipped it beyond Austin and into the net to make it 3-0 with not even a minute of the second half completed.
Reading went close to adding a fourth goal 10 minutes later but Owens intervened just before Barrett could pull the trigger from six yards out and the ball ran behind for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Axel Andresson saw his header blocked on the line by Charlie Hayford.
We made further changes with Tanganga (pictured, above) deployed at centre-half and George Marsh taking over defensive midfield duties from Owens but the Royals still managed to fashion a shooting chance mid-way through the half as Barrett’s rising effort was caught by Austin at his near post.
Hayford’s cross-shot from the right beat Southwood at the other end but hit the crossbar, but back came Reading once more and Dan Akinwumni’s right-wing cross found its way through to Davis at the far post, but he dragged his shot across the face of goal and wide.
Loft’s hold-up play enabled the likes of Edwards and Samuel Shashoua to get on the ball on the outskirts of the area as the game went on, but still we struggled to find a clear breakthrough.
Edwards gave us a lifeline with 10 minutes of normal time left as he won a free-kick just outside the box and got back up to curl an inch-perfect set piece into the top corner with his left foot, but Reading responded within 60 seconds as Tanganga was adjudged to have fouled substitute Josh Chatee in the area and Barrett stepped up to send Austin the wrong way from the penalty spot.
There was no way back for us in the closing moments, with the visitors’ defence standing firm to ensure the spoils were taken back to Berkshire.
Spurs U18s: Austin, Hayford, Muscatt, Owens (Marsh 57), Mukena (Tanganga 57), Brown, Edwards, Stylianides, Loft, Shashoua, Daly (Bennetts 46). Substitute (not used): McDermott (GK).