READING Under 23s put in superb display to claim a 1-1 draw against Manchester United U23s at Old Trafford in Premier League 2, writes Jim Tatum.

Royals travelled to the north west on Friday night with a squad that included fit-again Callum Harriott.

Scott Marshall's Royals went in front in the 11th minute through Ben House's clever, improvised finish.

They also had chanced to increase their lead, most notably when Harriott's free-kick forced a fine save out of Matej Kovar.

The hosts soon responded and began to test Reading keeper Luke Southwood.

But the England U20 World Cup winner kept out a Zachary Dearnley strike at full-stretch before blocking a point-blank shot from Tahith Chong to preserve the lead.

Chong went close again after the break with an effort that landed on the roof of the net.

But Royals wasted a gilt-edged chance to add a second when Danny Loader pounced on a defensive mix-up and burst clean through, but was denied by Kovar with only the United keeper to beat, before Harriott fired the rebound over.

It was a costly miss as the Red Devils equalised in the 66th minute, Diogo Dalot crossing for Joshua Bohui to fire into the roof of the net.

The goal led to a lively finish with Tyler Frost missing the taget for the visitors.

House was also denied a late second when his powerful shot crashed against the crossbar after good work by Ethan Coleman.

Royals continued probe, but Loader was again denied by Kovar in the closing stages.

And Southwood felt Marshall's men deserved the victory at Old Trafford.

“A draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford sounds good, but if you look at how we played and the chances we created then we could have come away with a win.

“So overall we’re frustrated – but happy with the way we played."

Southwood was one of the Royals’ stronger performers, making a number of excellent saves and he feels this might be down to training with the first team in recent weeks.

He said: “My schedule has been quite hectic training with the first team, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s great to watch the likes of Vito (Mannone) and Sam (Walker) in action to see the way that they deal with certain situations. It’s a huge opportunity now for me to learn.”

The result leaves Reading sitting in fifth place in the Premier League 2 Division 2 table, three points off leaders Southampton.

A win in their game against West Brom U23s on Friday night could see them go top, if other results go their way.

Manchester United U23: Kovar, Dalot, R.Williams, Rojo (Poole 55), O’Connor, Gomes (c), Garner (Barlow 78), Hamilton, Chong, Dearnley (McIntosh-Buffonge 79), Bohui. Subs not used: Fojticek, Tanner. Booked: Bohui, Williams.

Reading U23: Southwood, Howe, Osho (c), McIntyre, Medford-Smith, East, Frost, Sidoel (Coleman 79), House (Liddle 88), Loader, Harriott (Nolan 60). Subs not used: Holmes, Driscoll. Booked: Sidoel.