Development Game: Reading Dev 1 (1) Luton Town Dev 4 (2)
Impressive Hatters came from a goal down to triumph 4-1 against a Reading Development team at the Royals’ Madejski Stadium 4G pitch this afternoon, writes Mark Wood.
Gozie Ugwu headed the hosts into the lead in the opening minutes before a strong Town team took control.
They levelled through Alex Wall and led at the break thanks to Shaun Whalley’s deflected effort, before overrunning their hosts in the second half with further goals from David Viana and substitute Jon Shaw, while Viana, Mark Cullen and replacement Zan Banton were all denied by the woodwork in another encouraging triumph.
Town had the game’s first real effort on four minutes, Solomon Taiwo’s deflected free-kick from just outside the area being turned over by the keeper.
But the Royals were ahead seconds later when Sean Long got free on the right and crossed for Ugwu to head home from close range.
And Reading should have doubled their lead on 10 minutes when Aaron Tshibola threaded Jack Stacey clean through, but his shot went just wide.
Town were desperately unlucky not to level on 20 minutes when Viana found time and space as his 20-yard drive cannoned off the right-hand upright.
But Luton did level two minutes later when Kane Ferdinand robbed Pierce Sweeney as he raced clean through and unselfishly squared for Wall to sweep home.
The visitors began to play some better stuff as good work from Luke Trotman troubled the Reading backline and Cullen’s clever touch played in Whalley but he could only run the ball out.
With a strong wind behind the Royals they were still enjoying the better of the first half as Dominic Samuel played Stacey clean through on 28 minutes, but Elliot Justham stood up well to make a good save, before Brett Longden put in a fine saving tackle to deny Stacey moments later.
Great work by Long created another chance for Stacey five minutes before the break but he shot straight at Justham.
At the other end Luton broke as Cullen threaded Wall through, but his low shot was saved by the keeper’s legs.
But the Hatters did take the lead three minutes before the break when Viana’s pass found Whalley and his effort from the edge of the box took a nick on its way into the net.
Wall had early shouts for a penalty waved away four minutes into the second half before Town got their third on 51 minutes when Whalley’s corner caused confusion in the wind and Alfie Mawson headed goalwards as it deflected off Viana and in.
The woodwork rescued the Royals again on 55 minutes when keeper Stuart Moore’s poor clearance went straight to Cullen, who fired it straight back in only to see it cannon off the far post.
The Hatters continued to threaten as Whalley cut inside on 62 minutes and his low left-footed effort drew a fine save, before Moore again denied Cullen with his legs moments later.
Town took the opportunity to make a treble change as long-term absentee Shaw came on alongside youngsters Ian Rees and Banton as Wall, Cullen and Taiwo made way.
Whalley lofted in a hugely ambitious effort from the halfway line that was saved by Moore on 72 minutes, before playing a key role in the fourth goal seconds late.
This time Whalley’s swerving drive from just outside the box was parried by Moore and Shaw was on hand to roll home the rebound from close range.
An end-to-end encounter continued with Stacey forcing another save from Justham and Whalley seeing his effort deflected over.
Craig King replaced Justham with 10 minutes to go as the lively Whalley brought another save from the keeper.
And the woodwork denied Town for a third time in the 89th-minute when Shaw’s knockdown released Banton who managed to squeeze a shot out from an almost impossible angle and was desperately unlucky to see his effort bounce along the line and out as the Hatters sealed another encouraging victory.
Royals: 1 Stuart Moore, 2 Sean Long, 3 Shane Griffin, 4 Aaron Tshibola (Trialist 84), 5 Pierce Sweeney, 6 Niall Keown (Matt Partridge 71), 7 Jack Stacey, 8 Aaron Kuhl, 9 Gozie Ugwu, 10 Craig Tanner, 11 Dominic Samuel (Shepherd Murombedzi 71).
Hatters: Elliot Justham (Craig King 80), Luke Trotman (Tinashe Chabata 77), Anthony Charles, Alfie Mawson, Brett Longden, Solomon Taiwo (Ian Rees 64), Kane Ferdinand, David Viana, Shaun Whalley, Mark Cullen (Jon Shaw 64), Alex Wall (Zane Banton 64).