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Monday 13 January 2014

Barclays U21s: Baker earns Chelsea reprieve

Chelsea up to fourth after 2-2 draw; Man City seal fourth straight win; West Brom stun West Ham

  • Nathan Ake of Chelsea comes under pressure from Reading goalscorer Craig Tanner

  • Albert Rusnak (right) gave Manchester City a 2-1 lead against Wolves

  • Marcos Lopes (right) was twice denied in the first half before setting up Adam Drury's goal

  • Manager Patrick Vieira has masterminded four straight victories for Man City

Chelsea 2-2 Reading

Chelsea came from two goals down to deny Reading victory and snatch a point in stoppage time in a thrilling Barclays Under-21 Premier League match at Cobham on Friday night.

Reading took a two-goal lead in the first half through Tarique Fosu-Henry and a penalty from Craig Tanner. But, after Andreas Christensen got Chelsea back in the match early in the second half, Lewis Baker equalised from the penalty spot to provide a dramatic end to the match and take Chelsea up to fourth place in the table, six points behind League leaders Fulham.

Baker was named in the Chelsea side on the back of his first-team debut in the FA Cup win against Derby County last weekend, while Islam Feruz returned in place of Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Reading named six players from their Under-18 side who suffered a 6-0 defeat by the west Londoners last month.

But it was Reading, second-bottom in the table, who took the lead. Chelsea were unable to clear the danger inside their own penalty area and Fosu-Henry pounced with a neat finish from 10 yards out. Fosu-Henry won a penalty when he was brought down by Blues goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney and Tanner dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom corner.

Dermot Drummy's charges reduced the deficit five minutes into the second half when Baker’s corner found Christensen, who steered a powerful header in off the crossbar. And after a long spell of Chelsea pressure, Reading defender Samuel Fridjonsson was penalised for handball from a corner inside his box and Baker converted the penalty into the bottom corner.

Chelsea report | Reading report

Manchester City 3-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Manchester City overcame an experienced Wolverhampton Wanderers side to claim their fourth straight Barclays Under-21 Premier League win at Ewen Field on Friday and move up to sixth place in the standings.

City took a half-time lead thanks to Adam Drury's opener but Wolves equalised early in the second period through Jamie O'Hara. Albert Rusnak put City back in front before Devante Cole came off the substitutes' bench to add a third and seal the points for Patrick Vieira’s side.

Marcos Lopes returned to the Manchester City Under-21 side after his appearance in the first-team's 6-0 Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg win against West Ham United on Wednesday, while Wolves named O'Hara and Iceland winger Bjorn Sigurdarson in their line-up.

Visiting goalkeeper Jonathan Flatt made two superb saves to deny Lopes in the first-half but the young Portuguese midfielder helped City find a breakthrough after 27 minutes when he played a one-two with Drury, who found the far corner with a curling shot.

O'Hara came close to equalising when his long-range volley clipped the crossbar but the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder found the top corner 10 minutes into the second half with a superb effort from 20 yards.

The goal sparked Wolves' best period of the game but City responded in clinical fashion. Rusnak restored the lead when he slotted in from a goalmouth scramble and Cole wrapped up the game from close range after Jordi Hiwula's shot had rebounded out.

Manchester City report

West Ham United 0-3 West Bromwich Albion

Goals by Cameron Gayle and Aaron Birch either side of a Paul McCallum own goal helped West Bromwich Albion record a comfortable victory over West Ham United at Rush Green on Friday evening.

Gayle opened the scoring midway through the first half before McCallum turned Jordan Francis' shot into his own net five minutes after the re-start. Birch then added a third to seal the victory for West Brom.

The Baggies had suffered three straight Barclays Under-21 Premier League defeats before travelling to West Ham, who went into the fixture in second position in the table with six wins from 11 matches.

The Londoners welcomed Ricardo Vaz Te into the squad to make his first appearance since October after dislocating his shoulder while playing for the first team against Swansea City, while West Brom defender George Thorne played 90 minutes as he continued his recovery from cruciate ligament damage.

Albion took the lead after 21 minutes when Gayle's shot took a deflection and wrong-footed West Ham goalkeeper Raphael Spiegel. The Baggies doubled their lead soon after the start of the second period as McCallum slid in to block Francis' shot and sent the ball looping into his own goal.

Thorne fired a free-kick into the side netting as West Brom went in search of a third and Birch eventually found it after 66 minutes, sliding in Rees Wedderburn's cross from close range.

The result leaves the Hammers four points behind Fulham, while West Brom climb up to eighth.

West Ham United report | West Bromwich Albion report

Under-21 Premier League results

Chelsea (Christensen, Baker) 2-2 Reading (Fosu-Henry, Tanner)
Man City (Drury, Rusnak, Cole) 3-1 (Wolves (O'Hara)
West Ham 0-3 West Brom (Gayle, McCallum og, Birch)

Under-21 Premier League fixtures

Monday 13 January
Leicester City v Bolton, 1pm, Leicester Training Ground
Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers, 2pm, Liverpool Academy
Spurs v Newcastle, 7pm, Woodside Park    
Sunderland v Stoke, 7pm, Eppleton Colliery Welfare
Southampton v Man Utd, 7.30pm, Staplewood Training Ground

Wednesday 15 January
Middlesbrough v Arsenal, 12pm, Rockliffe Park

Friday 17 January
Stoke v Spurs, 1pm, Clayton Wood

Under-21 Premier League Cup fifth-round fixture

Thursday 16 January
Reading v Watford, 7pm, Basingstoke Town FC Ticket details

Find out the full Barclays Under-21 fixture list here and view the table here.

To discover all Under-21 Premier League Cup results to date, click here.

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

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