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30 April 2017

Matt Gill's youngsters beaten in cup semi-final

NORWICH City's Under-23s missed out on their chance of a Premier League Cup final spot after going down to defeat at Reading's Madejski Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In what would prove to be the Development Squad's final competitive fixture of the 2016-17 season, a trio of first half Royals goals effectively took the game beyond them despite Ray Grant's reply in the second period.

It was City who began the better side, Diallang Jaiyesimi twice calling home goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola into action in the early stages only to be denied on each occasion.

Instead it would be Reading who went in front just before the half-hour mark, doing so in somewhat contentious fashion when captain Rob Dickie prodded home from close-range.

Dickie's effort was initially ruled out for offside in the aftermath of a fine Aston Oxborough save from Josh Barrett's free-kick, only for the decision to be overturned upon the referee consulting his linesman.

Any lingering sense of injustice was further compounded eight minutes later, Sam Smith rising to power home a firm header to double the Royals' advantage.

The hosts' sense of control was tightened once again with the interval looming, a third goal being added by Tyler Frost when he reacted quickest to a loose ball in the City area.

Going into the break three behind, Matt Gill's youngsters made the perfect start to the second period by quickly pulling a goal back after the restart through Grant's scrambled effort.

That gave the visitors something of a foothold in the contest, and they looked to raise the tempo as the game became increasingly fractious with a number of hefty challenges flying in.

With little under 20 minutes remaining, Kieran Higgs was introduced off the bench; immediately getting himself involved by spinning to set-up Benny Ashley-Seal whose fizzed strike was palmed behind.

City continued to search for a way back into the tie, but their efforts proved to be in vain with Smith adding his second for Reading late on to complete the scoring.

FULL-TIME: Reading 4-1 Norwich City

GOALS: Royals: Rob Dickie (29), Sam Smith (37, 88), Tyler Frost (43). Canaries: Ray Grant (48).

NORWICH CITY: Oxborough; Ramsay (Hlynsson, 87), Efete, Crowe, Lewis; Grant (Aarons, 62), Adams (c); Jaiyesimi, Cantwell, McGrandles (Higgs, 73); Ashley-Seal. Subs not used: Hallett (GK), Wallis.

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