Sub Adam Smith stepped up from the under 16s to send Oxford United through to face Colchester United in the second round of the FA Youth Cup tonight. Smith headed home with his first touch to end stubborn resistance from Reading City and ease the U's through with a 1-0 victory after extra time.
After a scrappy opening half hour in which a Fabio Lopes header and a Connor Ferguson drive were United’s best effort and the home side sensed an upset the U’s started to get the ball down and play on a difficult surface with Fabio Sole and Leon Chambers-Parillon looking to find holes in the home defence and striker Callum Crook holding the ball well to allow Lopes, Tyler Goodrham and Ferguson to join the attack.
However they rarely troubled the home keeper and the home side had one or two sights of Max Evans’ goal despite some stout defending from the back line of Trey Grant, Viktor Milton, Nico Jones and Michael Elechi
United had full time fitness on their side though and that started to tell in the second half with the energetic Goodrham twice close to applying the finishing touch at the back post as Reading dropped deeper and deeper: their one threat coming when loud penalty shouts were waved away just after the hour.
However United continued to play their best football well away from the danger zone until a succession of late corners ended with the excellent Milton heading one against the bar with the keeper beaten and then the desperate Reading defenders scrambling another off the line as pressure turned to siege and sub Jordan Edwards and Milton once more went close from set pieces.
Extra time ramped up both the tension and the United pressure and in the end it was Smith who finally find a way to end the Reading resistance, heading home a superb Nico Jones cross from close range to make it 1-0 half way through the first period of extra time to give his side a deserved win despite the home side's heroics.
There was still time for Sole to drive a late free kick against the post but credit to Reading who gave it everything and made it a real cup tie which asked plenty of questions for the United youngsters. Not at their best but through.
Evans, Grant, Elechi, Milton ©, Jones, Sole, Chambers-Parillon, Lopes, Ferguson, Goodrham (Smith 98), Crook (Edwards 71)
Subs: Niemcycki, Gardner, Barnett-Grant, Nosakhare, Spasov
Report by Chris Williams