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U21s: Reading in control against Arsenal

Reading eased to a 2-1 win over Arsenal in the U21 Premier League in front of a crowd of nearly 3,000 at the Madejski Stadium on Monday night.

Ugwu played for Reading against Oman earlier in the season.
Ugwu played for Reading against Oman earlier in the season.
Ben Hoskins
Match Report

In the opening minutes, Arsenal controlled the possession for the first few minutes of the game, as they produced a slick passing game. However, the play didn't progress into the Reading final third on a regular basis.

After the opening ten minutes, Reading were able to assert their dominance on the game; Aaron Tshibola, who was on the bench for the first team at Derby earlier in the season, tested Arsenal 'keeper Matt Macey with a good effort after fifteen minutes. The goalie was forced into another save a few minutes later, this time denying Gozie Ugwu.

On the half hour mark, Reading took a deserved lead. A well worked goal, with Jack Stacey and Sean Long traded passes and Stacey's centre couldn't have been missed by Craig Tanner - his fourth U21 goal of the season.

Tanner almost doubled his tally with a free-kick, which was well saved by the 6ft 6in goalkeeper.

A long break in play ensued as Arsenal's Tafari Moore was stretchered off after a 50-50 challenge with right-back Shane Griffin.

As soon as the ball was rolling again, Reading doubled their lead. Tarique Fosu-Henry made his way down the left-wing, he played the ball to Tanner, who found Tshibola was in the right place at the right time and he slotted the ball home.

Reading's second goal of the night (via ReadingFC)

Reading were struck a cruel blow just before half-time, as Isaac Hayden fired the ball underneath Dan Lincoln, who misjudged the bounce of the ball, due to the wet surface.

Arsenal had Ryo Miyaichi in their starting line-up - a full Japanese international, with two caps. However, Arsenal were rarely able to pose the Reading defense any major problems. The goal was one of the rare attacks were the Young Guns threatened.

In the second half, Fosu tested Macey from long range, before Arsenal's Jon Toral fired a free-kick high and wide into the South Stand.

Reading had a number of chances for a third, as Stacey glanced over Tanner's corner just over the bar, before Ugwu managed to make his way around a number of Arsenal defenders before firing his shot against the post from a very narrow angle. Finally, Fosu played the ball in from the left, but none of the onrushing Reading players could find the net.

The 2,875 strong crowd witnessed a very good performance by the U21s and witnessing a number of potential first team players.

Player Ratings
  • Lincoln - 6 - Made of couple of decent saves, but made an error for the Arsenal goal.
  • Long - 9 - Worked well to get forward and looks strong in defense.
  • Griffin - 8 - Was able to contain the Arsenal forward line well.
  • Sweeney - 8 - Played well at centre-back and showed why he made the first team squad earlier in the season.
  • Keown - 8 - Same as Sweeney.
  • Kuhl - 8 - Strong on the ball, good in the challenge.
  • Tshibola - 9 - Looked very comfortable on the ball, good passing, good work rate. Deserved his goal.
  • Fosu - 8 - Played well on the wing, producing a number of good crosses in.
  • Stacey - 8 - Same as Fosu.
  • Tanner - 9 - Good work rate, looks good from dead ball situations and rounded it off with a goal.
  • Ugwu - 8 - Strong, quick and good on the ball. He wasn't as involved as he would have liked though.
  • Kelly - N/A - Came on for Fosu after 88 minutes, but he had no time to make an impact.
Arsenal team: Macey, Moore (Fagan 34), Ormonde-Ottewil, Ajayi, Pleguezuelo, Hayden, Zelalem (Lipman 62) (Kamara 87), Eisfeld, Toral, Olsson, Miyaichi.

Were you at the game? Who would you choose as player of the match?