Reading U18s traversed a tricky third round tie with Bromley thanks to Louie Holzman and Harrison Furlong's extra-time goals as the young Royals held firm to win 3-1 on a night of fine margins at Hayes Lane.

The favourites entering the match, Reading seemed destined for victory when Princewill Ehibhatiomhan opened the scoring following a sweeping counter-attack in the first half. But Bromley hit back instantly through Ben Krauhaus and when neither side could find a winner, the tie headed into two 15 minute periods of extra time.

It was right near the end of the first of these periods when Holzman rose highest to head Reading into the lead before Harrison Furlong sealed the tie with seconds remaining.

Reading coaches Michael Donaldson and Mikele Leigertwood started with a 4-1-3-2 formation in front of a surprisingly vociferous Hayes Lane crowd with midfielder Benjamin Purcell charged with the difficult task of screening the back four and getting his side going further up the pitch.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the Category One Royals who started on the front foot, missing a decent early chance to take the lead when captain Michael Stickland’s header floated over the bar from close range.

Just past the quarter-hour mark, slick attacking play saw Reading carve Bromley open but they just couldn’t provide the finishing touch. David Nyarko broke down the right flank and crossed for Aston Greaver whose delicate first-time lay-off fell perfectly into the path of Princewill Ehibhatiomhan but the attacker’s effort was well saved. Caylan Vickers followed up but he couldn’t get his shot off before he was crowded out and the ball was scrambled clear.

Reading finally did break the deadlock in the 31st minute when Kelvin Abrefa did well to turn his marker on the halfway line and ignite a blistering Royals counter. With the Bromley defence retreating, Abrefa drove forward with the ball before sliding through Ehibhatiomhan who made no mistake this time, finishing smartly into the bottom corner.

But just as it seemed Reading were set to take full control, Bromley hit back. An inconspicuous long ball beat the entire Royals defence and Ben Krauhaus ran onto it and finished neatly past Matthew Rowley to send the sides into half-time level at 1-1.

Buoyed by their equaliser, Bromley started the second half in the ascendancy and had loud appeals for a penalty turned down within moments of the restart when Soul Kader went down under a pair of Reading challengers.

The increased Bromley pressure nearly paid dividends ten minutes after the break, but Sam German couldn’t direct his header on target from six yards out. Krauhaus had the hosts’ next chance as he latched onto another long ball but unlike his first half goal, this time his shot was blocked.

When Reading did create their first opportunity of the second period it took a terrific George Porter save to deny them the lead. A deep cross was headed back into the danger zone where Nyarko was waiting to swivel and volley towards the far corner. It seemed destined for the back of the net until Porter stuck out a hand at the last-second.

Kader had a late chance to win it when he was gifted the ball on the edge of the box but his off-target effort ensured that this FA Youth Cup clash would continue into 30 minutes of extra time. 

After an exhausting night where both teams gave everything for their respective causes, Reading finally regained the lead with moments to spare in the first period of extra-time. A deep corner was met firmly by Louie Holzman who planted his header into the bottom corner to cue raucous celebrations from those in yellow.

Vickers had a chance to seal it in the second half of extra time but volleyed just wide to set up a nervy finish in which Rowley was required to make a superb save from a Bromley free-kick. With moments left to play and Bromley pushing bodies forward, Reading sealed the tie with a devastating counter-attack finished off by Harrison Furlong to set up an exciting fourth round tie hosting the winners of Scunthorpe vs Manchester United.

READING FC XI: Rowley, Abrefa, Addo-Antoine (Daniel-Spray 77’), Purcell, Stickland, Holzman, Ehibhatiomhan (Furlong 66’), Senga-Ngoyi, Nyarko