Sunday 16 March 2014
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.
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.
Arsenal (Hayden) 1-3 Reading (Tanner 2, Kelly) (aet;1-1)
1 April Manchester City v Burnley, Hyde FC