READING FC Under 23s rose to the top of the table with a 5-4 rollercoaster victory at Aston Villa Under 23s.

The pulsating win on Sunday afternoon saw Scott Marshall’s youngsters claim first place in the Premier League 2 Division 2 rankings and extend their unbeaten run to 11 matches.

A crazy first half saw the teams share six goals in a 24-minute spell leading up to half time.

The visitors took the lead in the 21st minute when the in-form Josh Barrett converted a penalty for his fifth goal in as many games.

But Villa hit back as a quickfire James Bree brace put them 2-1 in front.

The Villa defender equalised just two minutes after Barrett’s opener and then scored again five minutes later.

Royals fell further behind soon after when Corey Blackett-Taylor struck to make it 3-1.

But Marshall’s young side came storming back and saw Danny Loader reduce the deficit with a superb solo goal.

The teenager striker left several Villa players in his wake before rifling an angled shot into the top corner from 15 yards out.

And Royals were soon back on level terms as Ben House netted to make it 3-3 on the stroke of half time.

They carried that momentum into the second period and regained the lead thanks to another assured finish from Loader four minutes after the restart.

Royals kept their noses in front until the 83rd minute when Rushian Hepburn-Murphy equalised to make it 4-4.

But there was one further twist to a nailbiting clash as Reading grabbed an injury-time winner when House finished off a slick counter-attack to claim the victory.

Royals are back in action next Monday when they host Birmingham City U23s at Woking’s Kingfield Stadium in the Premier League Cup (7pm ko).

Aston Villa U23s: Sarkic, Bree, Bedeau, Bazeley-Graham, Revan, Prosser, Doyle-Hayes (Clarke), Lansbury, Blackett-Taylor, Cox (Hepburn-Murphy), O'Hare. Subs not used: Lomax, Lowe, Knibbs.

Reading U23s: Legg, McIntyre, Howe, Medford-Smith, Odimayo, Lawless (Olise, 76), Frost (Nolan, 80), East, Barrett, Loader, House Subs not used: Driscoll, Rollinson, Burley.