Reading’s Under-18s fell to a single-goal defeat against their Chelsea counterparts on Saturday, as Juan Familio-Castillo’s early strike gave the reigning league champions a win in the Under-18 Premier League.
The game was just six minutes old when the Dutch midfielder hammered in a first-time shot – Reading had opportunities to equalise, just as Chelsea had chances to extend the lead, but ultimately it was that early goal which proved the difference.
Reading Under-18 manager David Dodds said: “It is a measure of where you’re at when you play Chelsea – they named the same side that beat Aston Villa 2-0, and I’d watched that game and they absolutely battered Villa, who very rarely got into Chelsea’s half.
“We had a game-plan to play against them – they played with their full-backs very high and a diamond in midfield – a very aggressive formation and they pressed us really high up the pitch to stop us playing out from the back.
“We had to go through several configurations to get out but I thought the lads worked it out well. After the initial 10 or 15 minutes when we gave a couple of chances away, we then started to play the ball out under control from the back.
“They scored from a loose ball as they picked up the bits from a cross – the lad half-volleyed it from around 25 yards into the top corner, it was a really good strike. We stuck at it and as the half went on we got a foothold – we got down the sides of them and got some crosses in. Their goalkeeper dropped one which allowed us to get a shot in, but their defender did well to block it on the line.
“Thierry Nevers did well down the left in dribbling past their defenders on his full debut; Gabriel Rosario had a busy day in goal and made some good saves and was very sound in collecting crosses. Roberto Nditi was outstanding in his defending, especially late in the game when we were under pressure, and Andre Burley defended stoutly alongside him. Shamar Moore was battling against two big, athletic centre-halves and did well to hold the ball up and link the play – he helped get us up the pitch.
“Everyone worked hard. In the second half, we got a bit fatigued and we couldn’t get players beyond the ball. We had some flurries but couldn’t quite get forward in the way that we had in the first half. But it was an inexperienced team that we used and they gave it a really good go. There are some real positives to take from it in terms of personal development.”
Full-time: Chelsea U18 1-0 Reading U18
Chelsea U18: Bulka, Lavinier (Lamptey 63), Guehi, Wakely, Panzo, Gallagher, Familio-Castillo, Anjorin (Russell 56), Brown (Walters 81), McEachran, Taylor-Crossdale.
Unused subs: Askew, Masampu.
Reading U18: Rosario, Wilson (Obamakinwa 88), Elva-Fountaine, Burley, Nditi, Buchanan (Pendlebury 58), Coleman, Wallace, Sparta, Nevers (Lawrence 77), Moore.
Unused subs: Roberts, Okuboyejo.