Winger Shaze steals the show
AN OUTSTANDING display by Hartpury College winger Isaac Shaze had Forest Green fans purring last night.
Rovers were never embarrassed by a Reading side littered with Premiership experience, recovering from a shaky start to dominate for long periods of the friendly match.
Jim Harvey would have been pleased with that, and Alex Lawless' composed performance as a second striker, but Shaze stole the show.
The Forest Green boss handed a start to the Ghanaian teenager, while former Accrington Stanley man Ricky Baines was the latest triallist to push his claims for the right-back berth.
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A lapse in concentration from a short corner helped Reading get their noses in front in the 11th minute, Bobby Convey sending over a deep cross which was volleyed home through a crowd by Jimmy Kebe.
There was almost a leveller when Shaze scooped over the crossbar after the Royals had failed to deal with a throw-in.
The pace of Leroy Lita was Rovers' undoing for the second goal on 20 minutes. He surged from deep and crossed for Kebe to force a point-blank save from Terry Burton, only for Jem Karacan to net the rebound.
England Under-21 right-back Liam Rosenior was struggling to cope with the quick feet of Shaze at the other end, and the youngster's clever reverse pass to Baines brought a save from Marcus Hahnemann.
Harvey's men grew in confidence as the half progressed, and Shaze had the Royals on the retreat again when he cut in from the left and forced Alan Bennett into a block.
Momentum stayed with the men in stripes after the break, John Hardiker seeing a header cleared off the line by Nicky Shorey.
Set-pieces looked Reading's best avenue for increasing their lead, Bennett's shot coming back off Burton after another poorly cleared corner.
Rovers substitute Les Afful twice saw shots flash wide from the edge of the area, and even Steve Coppell would have struggled to begrudge the hosts a goal.
But Lita should have put the result beyond any doubt when he found himself one-on-one with Burton nine minutes from time, only to lift the ball into the EESI Stand.
Shaze's Hartpury colleagues Matt Shaxton and Sam Mensah were among the most impressive performers in the second period, the latter suggesting he would be a better bet than Baines to fill the right-back conundrum. Afful also emerged with credit as he attempts to shake off the super-sub tag this season.
Forest Green: T. Burton (T. Pass 82); R. Baines (S. Mensah 46), D. Jones (L. Molyneaux 69), J. Hardiker (B. Ashford 61), C. McDonald (P. Stonehouse 46); K. Mohamed (L. Afful 46), J. Smith, L. Fowler (J. Pitman 46), I. Shaze (M. Shaxton 61); A. Lawless; A. Mangan (M. Symons 61).
Reading: M. Hahnemann; L. Rosenior, A. Bennett, I. Ingamarsson, N. Shorey; J. Kebe, J. Karacan, G. Sigurdsson, B. Convey; S. Church, L. Lita; Subs: M. Andersen, D. Spence, N. Bignall, H. Robson-Kanu.
Referee: J. Cox
Star man: Isaac Shaze