The Royals’ Under-18s were on the receiving end of a 4-0 scoreline against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, despite the hosts being reduced to ten men in the first period.
Jonathan Dinzeyi was dismissed before the interval for Spurs, picking up two yellows, but Reo Griffiths broke the deadlock two minutes before the referee blew up for the break.
Striker Griffiths notched his second soon after the hour-mark, J’meill Lloyd-Bennett widened the advantage, before Griffiths completed his hat-trick in stoppage time.
Academy coach Ryan Williams said: “We gave first outings to two more Under-15s in Dejan Tetek and Claudio Osario, who have been developing really well in their own age-group and are ready to be challenged. Josh Brooking, also an Under-15, also continued in the line-up and Under-16 Conor Lawless stepping back into the group after recent injury.
“Going into the fixture, we knew that Spurs were in good form with a convincing victory over Arsenal the previous week who had beaten us in our previous fixture but once again it was a great learning opportunity for our young team.
“Spurs named a number of their strongest players and tried to dominate the game through possession and rotations, which we had looked at in the build up to the game and how to approach this from a defensive point of view – and we managed to get some good interceptions that led to some good counter attacking situations.
“We had our best spell in possession before the break when they had a defender sent off and we were looking to switch the ball into wide areas where we looked a threat. But right on the stroke of half-time, Spurs managed a counter of their own to go in ahead.
“At half-time the boys remained positive and we discussed the importance of being patient with possession and to work the 10 men of Spurs and wait for gaps to open up through the opposition or get the ball quickly into wide areas and make the most of overload situations.
“Claudio Osario almost made an impact with his first touch but couldn’t quite make the right contact at goal from a good team move, and the sucker punch was for Spurs to break away shortly after this and score their second.
“We lost a player to injury after using all of our subs, and with a two-goal advantage Spurs regained control. We still created some openings and Ethan Coleman had two efforts in quick succession with one header from a set play cleared off the line.
“Within the last 10 minutes of the game, Tottenham managed to get a third and killed the game off with the last kick of the game with a fourth.
“These are hard lessons to learn for our young Reading team, with the manner and timings of the goals conceded. If you take your openings on goal in the attacking third when not always in control of the game before they score, it can lead to the game having a very different feel to it – it showed what can affect it can have with the spirit and confidence.”
Full-time: Tottenham Hotspur U18 4-0 Reading U18
Tottenham Hotspur U18: Di Bie, Clarke (Reynolds HT), Hinds, Lyons-Foster, Dinzeyi, Shashoua, Bowden, Markanday (Maghoma 66), Patterson (Richards 82), Lloyd-Bennett, Griffiths.
Unused sub: Statham.
Reading U18: J.Andresson, Elva-Fountaine (Lawless HT), Wilson, Philby, Brooking, Simmo, Tetek (Osorio 61), Coleman, Faniyan, Nolan, Moore (Hansen HT).
Unused subs: Kealey, Stevens.