Reserves too strong for Reading

West Ham United reserves 2-1 Reading reserves

A tremendous display by West Ham United reserves saw Kevin Keen's men defeat Reading on Tuesday night and take top spot in the southern section of the Premier Reserve League.

A superb strike from Jack Collison and an Ibrahima Sonko own goal put the home side in a commanding position before the interval. As well as Sonko, the visitors had several first-teamers on view including Ulises De La Cruz, Kalifa Cisse, Michael Duberry, Emerse Fae, Bobby Convey and Dave Kitson, who was to hit a last-gasp consolation. In contrast, only Luis Boa Morte in the home ranks has any real top-flight experience but, as has been commonplace this season, the youngsters were to rise to the challenge.

The home side were quickly on the offensive at Woodside Park with Kyel Reid seeing plenty of the ball on the left-hand side. The first shot was fired in on five minutes, with Collison just seeing his effort miss the post. Reading were always going to be a threat though with Kitson showing his class with some neat touches and good runs along the channels. One such moment of skill saw the striker work an opening on ten minutes before Tomkins, as he was to do all night, intervened with a couple of solid blocks.

United should have taken the lead on 16 minutes when Joe Widdowson, back from a successful loan at Rotherham United, fired in a superb cross from the left and picked out Boa Morte. The Portuguese attacker connected with the ball but could not direct his effort on target. Reading then had a series of corners and free-kicks with which to apply pressure but Keen's youngsters were alive to the danger and Adam Street, a late replacement for the ill Richard Wright, was a calming influence in goal.

The deadlock was finally broken just before the half-hour mark when Collison played a neat one-two with Boa Morte. As the Reading defenders looked to pounce, the captain curled an exquisite shot into the far corner of the net beyond the outstretched arm of Federici. The goal typified Collison's attacking instincts but he was sharp in defensive positions as well, putting in some timely tackles and setting the tone for a disciplined team display. The second came five minutes before the interval with Sonko, under pressure from Hines, overhitting a back pass that raced past Federici and into the net.

Reading raised their game after half-time and some keen challenges were being put in by both sides. Duberry was penalised for one of them, joining Widdowson, who had his name taken in the first half, in the book. There were warning signs for the home side though as Reading's determination saw Jimmy Kebe getting a sight of goal on 55 mintues only for him to shoot over. That was followed by Tony Stokes picking up head injury that left him dazed and ultimately to be replaced by Lee Hales.

The corner count continued to rise in Reading's favour with Street doing well to claim some dangerous Convey deliveries. The away side introduced talented youngster James Henry with 15 minutes to play for Fae in the hope of unlocking a resolute rearguard but still the hosts stood firm. The arrival of Josh Payne for Junior Stanislas helped to shore things up but it needed a last-ditch tackle from Spence on Kitson in the 83rd minute to deny what looked like a certain goal.

Tomkins and Bondz 'Gala were in imperious mood to the end and the former summed that up by continuing unhindered despite a weighty collision with Sonko that had left him slightly shaken. An inspired piece of defending in the 86th minute saw Tomkins win a header even though he was lying on the ground after a coming together with Kitson. Reading made a late change with Gylfi Sigurdsson arriving for Cisse and the young substitute was to prove a real threat in the closing stages.

He had linked up well with Kitson on a couple of occasions before finally creating a consolation strike for the visitors deep into added time. Sigurdsson raced along the right flank before crossing low and Kitson was able to evade his markers for the first time to tuck the ball in from close range. It was too little, too late though as Keen's men were within seconds of the final whistle and a fifth straight win.

West Ham United now lead the way at the top of the southern section of the Premier Reserve League table. Aston Villa are a point behind but have two games in hand while Reading are a point further back with one game in hand. United are next in action on 31 March when they go to Chelsea although there is a still a home game against Derby County to be rearranged as well as the trip to Arsenal on 21 April.

West Ham United: Adam Street, Jordan Spence, James Tomkins, Bondz 'Gala, Joe Widdowson, Junior Stanislas (Josh Payne 75), Tony Stokes (Lee Hales 67), Jack Collison, Kyel Reid, Luis Boa Morte, Zavon Hines
Subs: Ashley Miller, Josh Payne, Anthony Edgar, Tom Harvey

Reading: Adam Federici, Ulises De La Cruz, Ibrahima Sonko, Michael Duberry, Scott Golbourne, Jimmy Kebe, Kalifa Cisse (Gylfi Sigurdsson 85), Emerse Fae (James Henry 74), Bobby Convey, Dave Kitson, Jem Karacan
Subs: Alex McCarthy, Oliver Bozanic, Aaron Brown