Angel Gomes scores a penalty against the Under-23s

Under-23s: Reading 0 Manchester United 1

Angel Gomes's second-half penalty was just enough to give United’s Under-23s a hard-fought victory in an extremely watchable contest against Reading.

The three points collected also meant that Ricky Sbragia’s lads could leapfrog over the three clubs above them – Wolverhampton Wanderers, Reading and Southampton – to the summit of Premier League 2.

Going into the game at the Madejski Stadium, this could certainly have been described as a top-of-the-table clash with the Royals in second spot and United just two points and a couple of places below the hosts.

Both teams have enjoyed impressive form this season and have been proficient in the goalscoring department so it promised to be an interesting and entertaining pre-Christmas treat for the supporters in attendance.
Tahith Chong tries to break forward against Reading
Tahith Chong tries to break forward.
Barely a minute into the game and United’s goal was under threat when Reading’s Josh Barrett found himself just a few yards away from the Reds’ net, but his chance went begging when Ro-Shaun Williams made a vital block.

It gave the Royals an early boost to their confidence, but it wasn’t long before United were giving the home defence a few nervous moments. The visitors could have taken the lead in the sixth minute when Tahith Chong’s well-struck drive looked to be heading for the desired destination until Reading's 15-year-old Academy keeper Coniah Boyce-Clarke dived to make a brilliant save.
Half a dozen minutes later and United had keeper Matej Kovar to thank for preserving the status quo after he pulled off a great block to prevent Reading winger Callum Harriott from squeezing the ball home at the near post.

As time wore on, the Reds started to command slightly more of the possession and, as a result, openings became more frequent. Gomes was instrumental as Ricky Sbragia's side took the game to the home side and with a little good fortune, the deadlock might have been successfully broken.

Both keepers were kept busy throughout the first half and it was difficult to choose between the two of them in terms of performance, because both were equally impressive. Having said that, on the stroke of half-time, United’s Kovar may have just edged it after making an incredible point-blank save from Ben House’s fierce header.
Joshua Bohui battles for the ball
Joshua Bohui battles for the ball, watched by team-mate Tyrell Warren.
The second half commenced in much the same style as the first had ended with chances being created at both ends.

Reds skipper Regan Poole did well to clear a dangerous cross as Reading pressed and then Joshua Bohui was unlucky with a glancing header from Tyrell Warren’s cross. Without question, this was anybody’s game and both sides continued to look for the vital opening.

Then, in the 63rd minute, referee Sam Purkiss pointed to the penalty spot after appearing to consult one of his assistants, when Nishan Burkart – who only five minutes earlier had come off the bench to replace Zak Dearnley – was clumsily wrestled to the ground by Reading’s Andre Burley.

A moment later, Gomes picked up the ball, placed it on the spot and, with little hesitation, converted the award into a lead for his side.
Nishan Burkart is brought down for a penalty by Reading defender Andre Burley
Burkart is brought down by Burley for the decisive penalty scored by Gomes.
The manner of the winning goal was perhaps harsh on the young keeper Boyce-Clarke, who was making his under-23 debut and had been excellent in keeping United at bay in open play.

Reading, who claimed a point from a 1-1 draw when the teams met at Old Trafford earlier in the season, pushed forward in the closing stages in an attempt to salvage something from the afternoon, but United’s defence stood firm to preserve the narrow lead.

MATCH DETAILS

United: Kovar; O’Connor, Poole, R. Williams, Warren (Tanner 57); Whelan, Gomes (Barlow 82), Hamilton; Chong, Dearnley (Burkart 59), Bohui.

Substitutes not used: Woolston, Sang.

Scorer: Gomes 64 pen.
 

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