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Reading U18s 4-4 Liverpool U18s (aet) Reading win 5-4 on penalties

Ecstatic scenes at the Madejski Stadium tonight as the Reading youth team battled through a talented Liverpool team to go through to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals on penalties after a blistering 4-4 extra-time draw.

Ben Hoskins

Reading: Ward; Watson, Owusu, Dickie, Hyam; Kuhl (C), Fridjonsson, Stacey, Fosu, Kelly; Cardwell.
Liverpool: Crump, Randall (C), Maguire, Williams, Jones, Chirivella, Wilson, Rossiter, Kent, Brannagan, Ojo

Never had a Reading youth team reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, with an Ady Williams led side reaching the 1988 Quarter-final our previous best.

Liverpool presented a sizeable challenge at the Mad Stad, youngest-ever Wales international Harry Wilson part of a solid Reds ensemble. Reading meanwhile, started with an unchanged team from the last round, led by Captain Aaron Kuhl.

Early pressure from Liverpool eventually subsided and the home side led through a wonderfully made goal by Harry Cardwell, skipping through challenges before a calm tight-angled finish. Welshman Wilson then tested Royals keeper Ward before Jake Stacey rattled the Red's woodwork from the right-hand side. 
A double change for Liverpool in the 2nd half couldn't stop Reading taking a 2 goal lead, Cardwell finishing his own rebound to seal a brace.

But, Liverpool came back, a shot hit the crossbar as a warning sign that went unheeded as Jordan Williams scored from distance. Then, with the semi-finals beckoning Liverpool scored in the 92nd minute, pushing the game into extra-time.

Into the 30 minutes it was Tarique Fosu of Reading who came close first, but Liverpool took the lead through Trickett-Smith before a suspected hammerblow saw Liverpool lead 4-2 through Wilson.

And yet The Royals came back to attack in the 2nd half of extra-time, Jake Stacey hitting the post with a header. With 4 minutes remaining Taylor-Crossdale calmly scored a one-on-one, just as he did against Bolton Under-21s earlier in the week. Fellow substitute McLennan made it 4-4 with one of the final kicks of the game. A corner wasn't cleared and came back into the 6 yard-box, with Reading players queued up in the box the ball hit the back of the net to brilliant scenes in Berkshire.

Even so, Wilson came close before the final whistle rang and penalties were begun, with John Madejski and Nigel Adkins amongst the watchers from the touchline.

Fosu and Kuhl scored neat penalties for Reading, before Brannagan missed for Liverpool at 2-2. Stacey, Hudin and Taylor-Crossdale then finished off their spot-kicks for the confirmation that the youngsters had finished off one of the great Madejski Stadium comebacks by a Reading team- and it is no overstatement to say that.

Reading will play Fulham or Huddersfield in the semis, that quarter takes place a week Thursday (20th March). The game will be across two legs, Reading at home in the first. The other semi-final is Arsenal against 2012 winners Chelsea.

*Breathes in*