Close finish as impressive young guns get better of Reading with late winner

Ben Close. Picture: Allan Hutchings
Ben Close. Picture: Allan Hutchings
Pompey midfielder Carl Baker Picture: Joe Pepler

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Ben Close hit the winner as Pompey Academy beat Reading 2-1.

Josh Warren was also on the mark as the young Blues put in a fine team display at Reading’s plush Berkshire training ground on Saturday.

The home side ramped up the pressure early on but Pompey held strong.

Keeper Billy Granger made one fine save before Jae Heon Kim cleared an inswinging corner that was heading for the roof of the net.

Kim then featured at the other end with a well-stuck shot as Pompey responded.

But the Blues’ cause wasn’t helped when Lewis Horsburgh, just back following injury, was taken off after hurting his shoulder.

However, just before the interval, Pompey took a deserved lead.

Bradley Tarbuck’s free-kick was not cleared by the Royals defence and Josh Warren smashed the loose ball home.

The Blues were clearly boosted by the goal and Nick Awford went close to extending the lead.

Then Fahad Rwakarambwe went even closer with an effort that came back into play after striking the post.

Reading responded well and managed to snatch an equaliser.

But Pompey rallied in a manner that will have pleased the management.

Snorre Nilsen was desperately unlucky not to score when his shot struck the Reading crossbar.

Awford then made himself busy with a superb pass that freed up Close to net with a fine finish and seal Pompey’s victory.