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Under-21s fall to first leg defeat

The Reading U21 side surrendered a 2 goal lead to Manchester City in the first leg of the Premier League Cup final at the Etihad on Thursday night, losing 3-2.

Ben Hoskins

Reading went into the game having beaten Arsenal in the semi-finals, and had some of the Under-18s available from their defeat to Fulham in the Youth Cup, with Aaron Kuhl captaining the side that had a potent strikeforce in Craig Tanner and Gozie Ugwu and Irish youth international of the year Pierce Sweeney in the heart of defence. Man City fielded a well-invested side featuring Marcos Lopes, who had appeared in the cups for the first team in the last 2 seasons.

Reading started strongest in front of a 4000+ strong crowd, Jack Stacey, who scored for the U18s at Fulham, crossed for Gozie Ugwu, and the ex-Shrewsbury loanee headed Reading in front. The scoreline was added to by Tanner after a counter-attack, and Reading had a lead to protect.

However before the break Devante Cole, son of ex-England striker Andy Cole, pulled one back for City and went into the half-time break with confidence. It should have been all level when Lopes shot was goalbound, but handled by Reading's Jake Cooper, an incident spotted by the ref Lee Mason, and Lopes slotted the penalty away as Cooper was sent off on the hour mark. A late goal from Cole sunk the Royals, who have surrended leads in several of their cup games this season.

Pierce Sweeney spoke to the offical site afterwards, and lamented Reading's luck and inability to kill the game off. While coach Martin Kuhl focussed on the positives, maintaining the team's pride and looking towards their game at Middlesbrough on Monday before the 2nd leg.

Hopefully they can push on and get that 90 minute performance in the 2nd leg, on the 19th April at the Madejski. The 3pm Saturday kick-off is £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.