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Reading U21s 1-1 Spurs - report from Adams Park

Posted on 3 March 2016  - 20:55

Will Miller netted a second-half equaliser as our Under-21s drew 1-1 with Reading on Thursday night (March 3).

Nabil Bentaleb lets flyWill Miller celebrates the equaliser

A share of the spoils was the least we deserved after a high-energy display in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League contest at Wycombe's Adams Park.

But after falling behind deep into first-half stoppage time to Jack Stacey's effort, we had Miller to thank for getting us back on level terms – although the attacking midfielder, operating as a false nine, was left kicking himself after firing wide with two other opportunities in the second period.

There were further chances for us, too, with Nabil Bentaleb striking the post from distance, Joe Pritchard being denied by an excellent block from Reading centre-back Shane Griffin and substitute Marcus Edwards drawing a low save from goalkeeper Lewis Ward, while the hosts could have won it through Conor Shaughnessy and Harry Cardwell.

Ultimately, though, both sides just lacked an edge in front of goal.

Midfielders Filip Lesniak and Anton Walkes were solid for us at centre-half, the latter further demonstrating his versatility by reprising the defensive role he often played at Under-18 level last term. Indeed, having also operated as a number eight, 10 and makeshift striker so far this season, he’s practically completed the set in terms of playing down the spine of the team!

Emmanuel Sonupe proved a useful outlet in the first period as he darted down the right side but, while he sent in a range of deliveries, the Reading defence was not unduly troubled.

Indeed, from one such early cross, Royals stopper Ward just beat Pritchard and Miller to the ball in the six-yard box as we showed our intention to press from the off.

At the other end, Harry Cardwell glanced a header wide of the near post while Jack Stacey skewed wastefully over after bursting through in the right channel.

Pritchard's powerful drive from 20 yards was at a nice height for Ward to catch after good work in midfield by Cy Goddard before another whipped Sonupe delivery just ran too far ahead of Anthony Georgiou at the back post.

We were indebted to young goalkeeper Tom McDermott, making his Under-21s debut, for a fine save low down to his right on 28 minutes to keep out Cardwell’s header following a cross from the left. Cardwell subsequently latched onto the loose ball close to the byline and played it back to team-mate Stacey with interest, but it ricocheted back into McDermott’s grasp.

As we entered first-half stoppage time, another low Sonupe centre was repelled by Ward, captain Kyle Walker-Peters was fouled as he competed for the rebound at the edge of the box and Bentaleb’s resulting free-kick spun behind off the wall.

But it was Reading who found the breakthrough in the third extra minute when Stacey coolly evaded a challenge on the edge of the box before stepping through and rifling low across McDermott into the corner.

We came out for the second half with our energy levels still high and went close on a handful of occasions – Bentaleb testing Ward from outside the box and then hitting the post from 30 yards, with Miller dragging wastefully wide of the far post from Georgiou’s left-wing cross in between those efforts from the Algeria international.

Reading then had a burst of opportunities with Cardwell lashing over from 16 yards before being denied by a sliding tackle in the box from the alert Luke Amos after Royals skipper Aaron Kuhl found him with a short, quickly-taken free-kick. Sean Long then headed wide from the latter’s corner.

Our equaliser arrived on 71 minutes as substitute Marcus Edwards picked out Pritchard centrally, he advanced towards the box and slipped Miller in behind the defence to slot home.

The game was flowing from end-to-end by that stage and after Shaughnessy’s effort was blocked on the line by Walker-Peters, the full-back got forward 60 seconds later with his cross falling nicely for Pritchard to left fly from inside the box – only for Griffin to hurl himself in the way of his shot.

Edwards worked himself into a shooting position before coaxing a low save from Ward with 10 minutes to go while Miller wriggled free in the box two minutes later but hooked his effort wide from a tight angle.

Sonupe’s cross then bounced off the top of the crossbar on its way behind, but the final chance went to the hosts in stoppage time as Amos lost possession in the left-back position and Stacey played it in low for Cardwell. Facing away from goal in the six-yard box, he tried to flick the ball in with the inside of his foot but was crowded out and we cleared our lines.

Reading U21s: Ward, Watson, Long, Shaughnessy, Jules, Griffin, Stacey, Kuhl (c), Cardwell, Barrett, Fosu. Substitutes (not used): Owusu, Rinomhota, Husin, Novakovich, Southwood (GK).

Spurs U21s: McDermott, Walker-Peters (c), Amos, Lesniak, Walkes, Bentaleb (Stylianides 63), Sonupe, J Pritchard (Maghoma 78), Miller, Goddard (Edwards 63), Georgiou. Substitutes (not used): Owens, Whiteman (GK).

Attendance: 229.