Norwich City U21s 4 Reading U21s 4 – Late penalty denies Canaries in eight-goal thriller

Norwich City midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu battles with Reading U21s' Noor Husin. Picture: Jason Dawso

Norwich City midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu battles with Reading U21s' Noor Husin. Picture: Jason Dawson/Jasonpix - Credit: JASON DAWSON/JASONPIX

Late drama saw a remarkable comeback from Norwich City Under-21s go to waste against Reading at Carrow Road this evening.

The hosts bounced back from 3-1 down at half-time to lead 4-3 courtesy of a rapid-fire three goals in eight minutes in the second half but the Royals rescued a point with a penalty in injury-time.

Two goals from Benny Ashley-Seal and one apiece from Glenn Middleton and Reece Hall-Johnson did not prove to be enough for Dmitri Halajko's side as they claimed a hard-earned Under-21 Premier League point.

The Canaries made five changes to their starting line-up from the 2-1 win at Tottenham in their previous match.

First-team players Andre Wisdom, Graham Dorrans and Youssouf Mulumbu came into the team as over-age players, alongside goalkeeper Ben Killip and centre-back Afolabi Coker.

The Royals claimed the lead in the 11th minute after a quiet start to proceedings when striker Harry Cardwell was found unmarked in the middle of the box by right winger Jack Stacey, to give him the simple task of slotting home from close range.

Ebou Adams came close to equalising five minutes later after seizing on a loose ball on the edge of the box after winger Middleton was tackled, forcing Lewis Ward to dive to his left to turn the ball round his post.

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Between them Dorrans and Mulumbu have over 500 senior appearances to their name but their experience was still struggling to quell the energy and pace of a lively visiting team.

The Royals took complete control, with Killip doing well to hold a powerful shot from left-back Nana Owusu in the 20th minute, with Tarique Fosu also firing wide soon after when he should have done better.

Cardwell and Noor Husin were close to getting on the end of a cross from the right from full-back Tennai Watson as well but the young Canaries rallied to grab an equaliser in the 24th minute.

Lone striker Ashley-Seal battled well to rob Owusu on the right and his strong low cross was well controlled by Middleton in the middle, before unleashing a powerful low blast into the bottom-left corner.

The lead didn't last long though, Cardwell charging after a through-ball into the left channel just two minutes later before cutting back onto his right boot and lashing past Killip into the bottom-right corner in clinical style.

Left-back Hall-Johnson then became City's main attacking threat as the hosts chased another equaliser, twice forcing a save at the near post after a promising burst down the left, as well as firing just wide after being teed up by Adams.

The hosts then switched off before the break, with Middleton being booked for a heavy tackle on Fosu and Adams also giving away a free-kick on the right as Reading threatened again.

That set-piece eventually saw George Evans teed up to shoot on the edge of the box during the one minute of added time and the midfielder gratefully thumped a low shot past Killip and into the bottom-left corner for a 3-1 lead at the break.

The second half got off to a quiet start, with Reading skipper Aaron Kuhl curling a free-kick beyond the far post after Dorrans had brought down Evans on the edge of the box.

However, the hosts were about to get their act together and demolished the Royals with a rapid burst of three goals inside eight minutes, with Dorrans playing a key role.

In the 63rd minute the Scotland international whipped a lovely cross from the right to the back post, where Michee Efete met the ball with a powerful downward header which was excellently saved by Ward, only for Ashley-Seal to follow up from close range.

The hosts were in the ascendancy all of a sudden and a succession of Dorrans corners resulted in what looked to be a soft penalty award, gratefully thumped home by Ashley-Seal for his second of the night and the equaliser in the 66th minute.

The young Canaries then got themselves in front for the first time on the night with a lovely flowing move – scoring their third goal in less than eight minutes.

Middleton fed overlapping substitute left-back Arinse Uade on the wing and his low cross from the left was turned goalwards by Dorrans and deflected into the path of Hall-Johnson – who had been moved to the right wing – who stabbed home from six yards.

From there City got stuck in and did their best to frustrate the Royals but there was to be a late sting in the tail.

In the second of four added minutes Adams was adjudged to have fouled the charging Watson right on the corner of the penalty area and a penalty was given, with Fosu squeezing the spot-kick past Killip and into the bottom-left corner of the City net to salvage the draw.

Norwich: Killip (C); Wisdom, Coker (Awuah 59, Grant 76), Efete, Hall-Johnson; Dorrans, Mulumbu; Eaton-Collins (Uade 59), Adams, Middleton; Ashley-Seal. Unused subs: Oxborough (GK), McIntosh.

Reading: Ward; Watson, Dickie, Shaughnessy, Owusu (Rinomhota 76); Kuhl (C); Stacey (Kelly 76), Husin (Novakovich 61), Evans, Fosu; Cardwell. Unused subs: Southwood (GK), Osho.

Referee: Chris Pollard (Suffolk)

Attendance: 1,000 (estimated)