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U23s 3-3 Reading - report

17 December 2016

Bramall Lane hosted a six-goal thriller on Saturday afternoon, but harshly United's U23s were denied victory.

In this Premier League Cup Group H clash, the Blades led 2-0 and 3-1 against Championship opposition, with Harvey Gilmour, Jordan Hallam from the penalty spot and Jake Wright all getting on the scoresheet, but two goals late in proceedings rescued the Royals a point.

United had the first sight of goal in just fourth minute, Trani cleared the ball forward and after Crofts got the better of Richards in an aerial challenge Gilmour played in Hallam, only for Sheppard to produce a last-ditch block. Six minutes later.

Despite Reading enjoying plenty of possession, it was the Blades who looked the most threatening in a goalscoring sense, this time Hallam got the better of Keown after seeing his first effort blocked, he curled a left-footed shot inches wide of Southwood's far post, with the Royals goalkeeper beaten.

And all the hosts pressure eventually paid dividends in the 18th minute. A quickly taken throw from Kelly on the left saw Wright get the wrong side of Keown and from Cummings's left foot deflected cross the ball fell invitingly for GILMOUR to volley home.

The Blades afternoon got even better in the 26th minute. Wright picked the ball up and drove at the Reading defence and as it entered the penalty area substitute Balogun made a rash tackle and referee Miller pointed instantly to the spot. From 12 yards, HALLAM rifled home impressively to Southwood's right, despite the goalkeeper going the right way.

In response Vancooten headed over for the visitors, before Hallam broke free again and fired narrowly wide with a powerful right-footed strike. As four minutes of injury time were signalled by the fourth official, Semple volleyed against his own crossbar under pressure from Barrett's left-wing corner.

The beginning of the second-half saw the visitors start brightly and inside three minutes, only the linesman flag stopped them pulling one back. Novakovich stormed clear of the United defence, but Smith was in an offside position as he applied the final touch from close-range.

After Wright had been booked in the first-half, Cummings was yellow carded for a mistimed challenge on Rinomhota and from the resulting free-kick, Vancooten headed over with the goal at his mercy.

In the 62nd minute had a major let off and it was goalkeeper Warhurst who deserved the credit for preserving the two-goal advantage. After Trani had fouled the advancing Rinomhota in the penalty area, the United stopper saved well from Smith's weak spot-kick. Shortly afterwards, Mallon replaced the hardworking Crofts and three minutes later Gordon replaced Trani.

But with 18 minutes remaining, Reading did pull a goal back as SMITH atoned for his earlier penalty miss somehow managing to get enough on a left-footed effort to beat Warhurst after substitute Loader had created an opportunity.

The booking count continued to grow as Vancooten and then Mallon were carded, prior to United scoring a third. Semple had already seen a header it the post moments earlier, before heading against the crossbar from the resulting corner, but this time WRIGHT reacted quickest to bundle home a deserved goal in the 83rd minute.

Reading refused to accept defeat though and set up a frantic finish as BALOGUN side-footed home from inside the penalty area with just under three minutes of the 90 remaining. An in the 89th minute they levelled. Semple was adjudged to have fouled Loader 25 yards out and from the free-kick, BARRETT curled home an effort that gave Warhurst no chance.

Five minutes of injury-time were signalled and tempers threatened to boil over following another foul on Wright, for which Rinomhota was booked. But in the end both team settled for a point, despite home appeals for a penalty for a foul on substitute Smith.

Blades: Warhurst, Cummings, Kelly, Gilmour, Graham, Semple, Trani (Gordon 67), Slater (K. Smith 90) Wright, Hallam, Crofts (Mallon 64).
Unused: Charlesworth, Perryman.

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