Reading’s Under-18s were defeated on their first Under-18 Premier League Cup outing, as Norwich City ran out 4-0 winners at Hogwood.
Despite the Royals creating plenty of good chances, Jaden Thompson-Brissett netted either side of the break, as well as Adam Idah and Anthony Spyrou each contributing goals for the Canaries in the second half.
It was another especially young Royals squad that faced the visiting Norfolk club – no less than five 16-year-olds were deployed, while 15-year-old Jeriel Dorsett also played the duration.
The Royals still have to play Southampton and Man City in Group C of the competition – the top-two placed sides progress to the knock-out stages.
Under-18 manager David Dodds said: “If you had seen the first 25 or 30 minutes, you would never have seen that scoreline coming. We were dominating the ball and creating some great chances but we just weren’t able to finish them off, which has been the case on a few occasions for us.
“We really should have been at least goal up before the break, given the amount of good chances that we created, but instead we ended up going in a goal behind as we conceded just before half time.
“And then we had a good opportunity after half-time to get back level – we had a set piece in a good area and we couldn’t quite turn it at the back post. Then they broke on us from that situation and won a free-kick of their own, and to be fair play to their lad, he’s stuck it right in the top corner.
“The third goal was an unfortunate one where the ball went back to our goalkeeper and he couldn’t make a proper contact with his kick, so they were able to walk it into the net.
“And that meant for the last 20 minutes or so the game was difficult for the lads and a bit of naivety crept in, and we weren’t always making the right decisions on the ball or with how we pressed or in 2v1 situations and they were able to get a fourth.
“Of course, if we had taken those early chances, then it’s a completely different game because we might have been one or two up and that gives us the control.
“It’s a steep learning curve at the moment for the lads at the moment; we’re playing some good stuff but hopefully we’ll be able to kill off some of our chances and be a bit more ruthless in the final third.
“We’d always encourage the boys to have the attitude of wanting to win, as that what matters most when they reach the first team. But it’s a particularly young group; they’re still learning and they’ll improve on the details and become better footballers by being pushed out of their comfort zone.”
Full-time: Reading U18 0-4 Norwich City U18
Reading U18: Rosario, Wilson, Dorsett, Odimayo (Nditi 65), Burley, Buchanan (Elva-Fountaine 90), Coleman, Sparta, Nolan, Matete (Wallace 70), Moore.
Unused subs: Hillson, Lawrence.
Norwich City U18: McCracken, Kamal, Wiley (Barkarson 62), Payne, Lomas, Ekumah, Fleming, Thorvaldsson (Mehmeti 82), Idah, Spyrou (Hutchinson 84), Thompson-Brissett.