Youth Cup hopes ended as Alex suffer penalty defeat
Crewe Alexandra's U18 side came from behind on three occasions but eventually suffered penalty heartache as they were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup by Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Callum Saunders, with his sixth and seventh goals in just four FA Youth Cup games, twice levelled for the Alex to send the game in to extra-time. Reading once again took the lead but Fraser Murdoch levelled once again for the Alex. That sent the game in to penalties but after Louis Johnson and James Jones both failed to convert the Alex's campaign came to an end.
It was Reading who dominated possession for much of the first half and they deservedly took the lead as Nana Owusu cut in from the left flank and launched a stunning curling effort beyond Robbie Johnson in the Alex goal.
Crewe struggled to get going for much of the first-half but improved after the break and found a deserved leveller through Saunders. The Welsh foward was quickest to react after Reading failed to clear a corner and smashed home from close range to continue his prolific scoring season for the Alex U18 side.
The Alex continued to impress but moments after James Baillie flashed an effort narrowly wide of the Reading goal the home side were back ahead as Jack Stacey broke down the right-wing and found Liam Kelly who smashed home from the edge of the box.
Saunders nearly replied after latching on to a loose back-pass but on 89 minutes he did find a leveller for Crewe. James Jones tested the Reading keeper from distance and after his shot was spilled Saunders tapped home to send the game in to extra-time.
After the first-half of extra-time progressed without incident the second-half of the additional 30 minutes was the complete opposite. Stacey broke through early on to give Reading the lead and seemingly end the Alex's Youth Cup hopes.
But the Alex continued to fight-back and after Sammi Fridjonsson had seen red for an off-the-ball incident they got their leveller as Murdoch rose high to meet a George Cooper cross and send the game in to penalties.
Tariqe Fosu opened the scoring for Reading, but George Cooper quickly levelled things up for the Alex. Aaron Kuhl put Reading back ahead but James Baillie restored parity with a confident finish for Crewe.
It was then that things started to go wrong for the Alex. Stacey put the Royals 3-2 ahead and James Jones missed the target to give Reading an advantage. After Noor Husin put Reading 4-2 ahead, Louis Johnson had to score for the Alex, unfortunately his spot-kick was saved the Alex's Youth Cup hopes had come to an end.
It was harsh on the Alex who had shown terrific spirit but nobody could fault their effort on a heartbreaking night for Crewe in Berkshire.