Crystal Palace Under-23s fell to a last-minute defeat in the Premier League 2 (Division 2), as Reading snatched all three points after an action packed second half.
- Harlem Hale is played through on goal but is denied by the goalkeeper.
- Jayden Onen finds space finds the top-corner to open the scoring for Reading.
- Wayne Hennessey saves well to keep the deficit at one goal.
- HT: Reading 1-0 Palace
- Palace start the second-half on the front-foot.
- Michael Strickland deflects a cross into his own net to bring the scores level.
- Sion Spence and James Taylor test the Reading goalkeeper.
- Victor Akinwale is fouled in the area but Spence sees his penalty saved.
- Femi Azeez scores in the dying moments to give Reading the three points.
- FT: Reading 2-1 Palace
Palace created the first chance of the game after a cagey opening ten minutes. Harlem Hale, who showed his ability to find attacking space with his goal against Aston Villa in February, was set through on goal, but his shot was smothered by the goalkeeper.
Reading grew into the game, and Femi Azeez found space to set up Jayden Onen, but his volley was never troubling Wayne Hennessey in the Palace goal.
But Onen was not to be denied, and opened the scoring with his next sight of goal. After Mamadi Camara’s adventurous run, Onen found space on the edge of the area; with the ball laid back to him, he curled a shot into the top-corner.
The hosts continued to see more of the ball, with Hennessey getting down well to save from Azeez, while Thierry Nevers saw his effort blocked by a Palace defender.
The Eagles did create openings, and Hale once again had sight of goal but his effort failed to trouble Conaih Boyce-Clarke in the Reading goal.
Palace started the second-half with greater intensity, wining a flurry of corners to increase the pressure. Jay Rich-Baghelou saw his header saved, while David Boateng missed the target.
But the pressure paid off, and soon the visitors were level. Attempting to deal with a dangerous low cross into the area, Michael Strickland’s clearance deflected off the crossbar before nestling in the Reading net.
The goal emboldened Shaun Derry’s side, and soon they were creating the better of the chances. Substitute James Taylor had an effort saved when it looked destined for the bottom-corner, while Sion Spence was also denied.
Palace kept pouring forwards, and soon had a golden opportunity to take the lead. Victor Akinwale, coming on for his second appearance at U23s level after impressing in the Under-18s, drew a foul in the area and the referee pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Sion Spence, but his low effort was kept out and the scores remained level.
Buoyed by the let-off, Reading pushed forward in an effort to find the winner, and with just minutes left their positivity paid dividends. It was their two most dangerous players who combined for the goal, with onen turning provider with a pass to find Azeez, who slotted below Hennessey to steal the three points.
Palace did all they could to recover, and Akinwale and Hannam both saw efforts kept out in added time, but ultimately it was the hosts who held out for victory.
Reading U23s: Boyce-Clarke (GK), Watson, Dorsett, East (Osario, 63), Strickland, Gibson (Luzon, HT), Leavy, Camara (Ajose, 62), Azeez, Onen, Nevers.
Subs: Holden, McGiff.
Palace U23s: Hennessey (GK), D. Boateng, Hannam, M. Boateng, O’Brien, Rich-Baghelou, Hale, Dreher (Akinwale, 65), Gordon, Spence, Rak Sakyi (Taylor, HT).
Subs: Webber (GK), Steele, Russell.