Stoke City Under-18s 2 (Richards 10, Edwards 78)
Reading Under-18s 3 (Cardwell 6, 69, Vastuk 14)
STOKE CITY’S Under-18s fell to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Reading on Saturday morning in their final league game of the season.
A brace from Harry Cardwell and Bogdan Vastuk strike were enough to sink City in glorious sunshine at Clayton Wood.
The Potters fought valiantly throughout as they twice came from behind through Derice Richards and Liam Edwards but ultimately the side couldn’t find a third to claim a share of the spoils.
In an actioned packed opening quarter of an hour it was the away side who took the lead as early as the sixth minute when Cardwell was felled inside the penalty area by Dominic Kurasik and the forward dusted himself down before firing into the ‘keeper’s right-hand corner.
The Royals could and really should have extended their lead moments later but the influential Cardwell headed a yard over the bar after meeting a Noor Husin corner at the near post, before the Potters responded with their first real opportunity.
After a fine passage of play, Yusuf Coban played a delightful defence splitting ball through to Richards who coolly fired past the onrushing Alek Gogic.
However, City failed to build on their leveller and the visitors went back in front after 14 minutes when a swift break saw the ball played into the path of Vastuk who hit an effort from just inside the area which went in off the far post.
The Potters didn’t seem to let the goal affect them though and Richards almost pulled the hosts back level for a second time but after good link-up play with Tomi Adeoye, the Nantwich born forward saw a close range effort well saved by Gogic.
Reading then had two great chances to extend their advantage before the half hour mark when Husin diverted a free header off target, before Vastuk missed the opportunity to grab himself a second when he volleyed over when positioned on the penalty spot.
John Perkins’ side finished the first period the stronger as both Coban and Richards had efforts on goal after working space, before City carried their momentum into the second period.
Makrillos headed just wide moments after the restart when unmarked inside the area, before Coban saw an effort fly narrowly wide of the upright from 18 yards.
City continued to lay siege to the Reading goal and Makrillos was only denied from equalising by a fantastic Gogic stop from point-blank range.
The game became stretched and Kurasik had to be at his best to thwart Cardwell and Sammi Fridjohnsson, however the Australian keeper could do nothing when the away side went further ahead as a fine passage of play allowed Cardwell to fire powerfully into the bottom corner from the edge-of-the-area.
The Potters weren’t about to sit down and accept defeat however and struck back with 12 minutes remaining when defender Liam Edwards superbly volleyed into the far corner from just inside the area.
It made for a tense final few minutes and City could have claimed a point from the contest but Richards saw a shot from close range come back off the post, before Adeloye fired over when well placed.
Stoke City: Kurasik, Cook, Strong (Banks 63), Roberts (Renee-Pringle 45), Sanders, Coulson, Coban, Makrillos, Adeloye, Richards, Monlouis (Edwards 45). Unused: Dyche, Weston-Hayles.