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Match Recap: Reading u23s 3-2 Leeds United u23s

The Whites’ youth suffered hard-lines away to Reading, but showed great heart and fight in a tough match in The Premier League 2.

Leeds United U23 v Wolverhampton Wanderers U23 - Under 18s Premier League
Niall Huggins features for the Leeds u23s against Wolves in the PL2.
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The Leeds United under-23s were beaten in a exciting Premier League 2 fixture away to Reading, as Leeds were forced into several changes as under-18s players stepped-up into the squad.

Leeds were forced to make several changes due to the international break, with main man Sam Greenwood picking up an injury on England duty that rules him out for 3-4 weeks.

Joe Gelhardt started after returning from his injury picked-up in a 3-1 win against Sunderland before the break, while Max Dean started following his debut double against Barrow in the EFL Trophy. Charlie Allen, Jeremiah Mullen, Max McMillan and Kris Moore also stepped-up from the under-18s to complete the starting eleven.

After a scrappy first ten minutes Reading took the lead, with an incisive low pass through the midfield and in-behind the back-line before Sam Smith slipped the ball past Caprile through the legs of the Italian keeper.

Leeds’ first chance came a couple minutes later, with a high corner-kick from the right side dipped onto the head of Moore, whose floated header was well claimed by the Reading keeper.

After a break in play Reading once again showed their danger as Leeds were bailed out by the crossbar. This followed some uncharacteristically poor defending on the edge of the box, allowing for an impressive run from Bristow opening up for the Reading left-back to have a crack.

But Leeds got the wake-up call, with a spell of pressure paying-off for The Whites as a free-kick from the left was quickly put in by McKinstry who found Max Dean un-marked, he cheekily flicked the ball past the keeper to give Leeds the equalising goal.

Leeds kept pushing but Reading bit back, forcing Caprile to pull-off a fantastic save low to his right hand side, tipping a shot from distance just wide of the post.

Changes were made at half-time as Olly Casey came on and made an instant impression for Leeds, as he popped-up on the edge of the box, as he opened his body up before hitting a wicked strike which was tipped onto the post.

Leeds kept pushing with a McKinstry header coming close at the far post on the right side, before Joe Gelhardt broke down the same side and has a shot defelected onto the bar, as the arriving McMillan couldn’t reach the rebound before his counterparts in white and blue stripes.

But Reading made it an end-to-end game, winning the ball high-up the field with the ball coming into the box for the Reading no.11 after some nice play, whose shot beat the keeper but was swept away by Drameh on the line.

The R’s then took the led from a scrappy corner kick, with the ball being lifted in toward the si yard box. The area was packed but the Reading centre-half was able to get a foot on the flighted ball, sneaking into right corner.

Ryan East doubled Reading’s advantage a few minutes later, with Drameh being robbed in his own half. They drove at the Leeds back-line with East breaking on the left-side, with his strike hitting the net to make it 3-1 to the home side.

McKinstry did some stealing of his own just moments later, breaking in from the left before losing possession before battling the ball back. His first shot was well saved at a tight angle before his second was blazed over the bar.

But Leeds weren’t down and out, with Galloway making a big impact after coming on for McMillan in the second half. He took a break of the ball after a powerful shot was blocked into Galloway’s path. The youngster turned well and smashed it home to give Leeds a lifeline in the final 20 minutes of the game.

Leeds argued for a penalty-kick following a cleared corner kick before Gelhardt picked it up on the far-side of the box. He was challenged by the Reading man and seemingly got none of the ball. Gelhardt hit the deck and Leeds appealed but the referee waved away the calls.

The Whites came close again as Joe Gelhardt played a magnificent reverse pass into Max Dean on the left-side of the box whose shot was well saved again by the Reading goalkeeper.

Leeds kept pushing for an equaliser but Reading managed to hold onto the three points. Leeds were forced into fielding a younger side than normal, but the performance was encouraging and the fight in the team showed strongly in this one.