Reading’s youngsters endured a tough start to life in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League after losing 3-1 to West Ham on Friday.
The U21s, managed by development coach Chris Cummins, started well in both halves but came unstuck by the Hammers on a trying surface at Rush Green Lane.
Despite creating chances and having some good play early on, it was the hosts who took the lead in the 42nd minute. Jon Henly made a smart save to deny Rob Hall, but West Ham forward Paul McCallum was on hand to convert the rebound.
The young Royals came close to making an instant reply when Charlie Losasso, who signed professionally in the summer, tested the West Ham goalkeeper.
Reading started brightly after the break, and nearly equalised when Dominic Samuel and Jordan Obita both went close. But, ten minutes into the second-half, we conceded another cheap goal when McCallum fired again.
That prompted a response from Cummins’ side, and the Royals hit back in the 72nd minute when Ryan Edwards scored at the back post from a set-piece.
The ascendency with definitely with Reading after that, and midfielder Aaron Tshibola had a header well saved before Jake Taylor had two golden chances cleared off the line.
The Royals continued to press but inevitably became vulnerable at the back, allowing the Hammers to snatch a third goal four minutes from time to put the game to bed.
Despite the defeat, Cummins had a positive outlook on the match, “It was our very first game, and it was very competitive. Unfortunately, the pitch spoilt the game for both teams - though both sides did try to play.
“We gave away two silly goals, and should have done a bit better with the third goal which killed the game. Mistakes will always be made when you have a young group, but they will learn from them.
“Overall there’s great potential in the side and we look dangerous going forward. We showed a real desire and hunger to get back into the game, and if we had made it 2-2 I think we would have won it.”