Newcastle United U23s 0 Reading U23s 1
Andriya Novakovich's second half penalty knocked Newcastle United Under-23s out of the Premier League Cup at the quarter-final stage, as Reading secured a 1-0 win at Whitley Park on Monday.
Peter Beardsley's youngsters began the day hoping for the win which would take them to within 90 minutes of a cup final, but Novakovich's hotly-disputed 72nd-minute spot-kick put paid to their hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
In a largely uneventful first half, Luke Charman - deployed in the number ten role behind lone frontman Tom Heardman - latched on to the latter's lofted pass and cut inside, but his left-footed shot trickled past the post.
When teenage winger Adam Wilson was brought down on the edge of the box, Dan Barlaser had a sight of goal, but couldn't keep his curling effort down.
At the other end, the Royals went close in in the half's dying moments, forcing Nathan Harker into two saves - one at Andy Rinomhota's feet and the other to tip away Omar Richards' shot from a tight angle.
And in time added on, United almost seized the advantage as Jamie Holmes went on-on-one with Luke Southwood. The Reading stopper, though, got down well to parry his shot, and Richards' last-gasp sliding challenge prevented Wilson from opening the scoring.
The second half began just as the first had ended, though it was Reading who carved out the first chance this time. Just seconds after the restart, Smith centred for Novakovich, but the big forward couldn't apply the finishing touch from close range.
Richards almost found the target after a corner was initially cleared before being hooked back into his path, but the wideman couldn't direct his shot inside the far post as Harker closed the angle.
The Magpies responded, and Charman was sent clear by Barlaser's first-time pass. After holding off Gabriel Osho, the forward looked to square for Wilson, but Reading hacked it clear just before it reached him.
But with just under 20 minutes left on the clock, Reading took the lead in controversial circumstances. Richards went down under the challenge of Charman in the box. Referee Tom Nield pointed to the spot, and Novakovich stepped up to send Harker the wrong way.
Yasin Ben El-Mhanni was introduced from the bench immediately after the goal as Beardsley's side sought a leveller to keep their Premier League Cup hopes alive.
And the substitute's urgency resulted in a shot which was saved by Southwood, before Charman burst into the box and crossed from the byline towards Heardman, but the tall frontman couldn't prod it home and Reading hung on to book their place in the last four.
Newcastle United Under-23s: Nathan Harker; Callum Williams (Yasin Ben El-Mhanni 73), Curtis Good (Michael Newberry 49), Stuart Findlay, Liam Gibson; Jack Hunter, Dan Barlaser; Jamie Holmes, Luke Charman, Adam Wilson (Victor Fernandez 88); Tom Heardman.
Subs not used: Otto Huuhtanen, Dan Ward.
Reading Under-23s: Luke Southwood, Tom Holmes, Gabriel Osho, Axel Andresson, Omar Richards, Ryan East (Ramarni Medford-Smith 85), Tyler Frost, Andy Rinomhota, Sam Smith, Jordan Holsgrove, Andriya Novakovich.
Subs not used: Liam Driscoll, Terrance van Cooten, Josh Barrett.
Referee: Tom Nield
Bookings: Newcastle United Under-23s - Liam Gibson (55); Reading Under-23s - Sam Smith (80).