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Sunday 16 March 2014

U21 Cup: Reading strike late against Arsenal to reach final

The Royals progress to inaugural U21 Premier League Cup final after extra-time triumph

  • Reading's Aaron Kuhl, left, and Jake Cooper try to stop Austin Lipman, of Arsenal

  • Arsenal had taken the lead through Isaac Hayden's penalty but Reading fought back

Reading are through to the final of the inaugural Under-21 Premier League Cup after scoring two extra-time goals in a 3-1 victory over Arsenal at Meadow Park.

Arsenal took an early lead through defender Isaac Hayden, who converted a penalty after Austin Lipman’s fine solo run was brought to an end by Jake Cooper's foul.

Stefan O’Connor also had a header cleared off the line as the Gunners started brightly, but Craig Tanner made it 1-1, glancing in a header from Jack Stacey's cross.

Tanner rattled the bar in the second half, while Hayden and Lipman went close for the hosts as both sides pushed for a winner, but it stayed level after 90 minutes.

Thomas Eisfeld had the Gunners’ best chance in a closely fought extra-time period, but it was Tanner who doubled his account and gave the Royals a 102nd-minute lead when he pounced on a loose ball and prodded past Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Macey.

Liam Kelly settled the encounter early in the second half of extra-time when he headed home Shane Griffin’s deep cross. The win capped a good week for Reading's academy, whose Under-18 reached the last four of the FA Youth Cup after a penalty shoot-out win against Liverpool.

Arsenal report | Reading report

Royal appointment for Man City or Burnley

Reading await the winners of Manchester City v Burnley in the other semi-final, which takes place on 1 April at Hyde FC.

The Royals’ route to the U21 Premier League Cup final also included an emphatic 6-1 triumph over Watford in the last eight, which followed a round-of-16 win over Queens Park Rangers.

City and Burnley contest their last-four tie after respective 3-2 victories in the quarter-finals. City came from 2-0 down to overcome Newcastle United, while Burnley ended the giant-killing run of Category 3 side Exeter City with an extra-time victory at St James’ Park.

Under-21 Premier League Cup result

Semi-final
Arsenal
(Hayden) 1-3  Reading (Tanner 2, Kelly) (aet;1-1)

Under-21 Premier League Cup fixture

Semi-final
1 April Manchester City
v Burnley, Hyde FC

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