Reading’s Under-18 side came from 3-0 down at half-time to stun Aston Villa with a 4-3 win on Saturday in their second group game of the U18 Premier League Cup – a much-needed victory to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out phase alive.
A week after playing away at Villa in the U18 Premier League – where the Royals came from behind to win 2-1 – the two sides met again in the group stage of the cup competition. For the Royals, victory was imperative; a 4-3 defeat to Derby County in their first game meant that a defeat to Villa could have ended their hopes of progressing from the group with a game to go.
And, with less than five minutes gone, it wasn’t looking good for the Royals as Carney Chukwuemeka and Brad Young each hit the next in the early exchanges, putting the hosts into the ascendency. And Hayden Lindley grabbed a third for the hosts in the final minute of the first half, leaving the Royals with a mountain to climb.
But after the break, Reading were a team transformed as they took their chances and were level before the hour-mark. Nahum Melvin-Lambert struck one back within three minutes of the restart, and then Imari Samuels’ goal was followed quickly by a second for Melvin-Lambert as the Royals tied it up at 3-3.
Determined not to let the momentum fade, Reading kept the foot on the pedal in search of the winning goal – and it came in the 82nd minute, as Melvin-Lambert’s hat-trick goal proved enough to secure all three points.
So after two group games each, Reading, Middlesbrough, Villa and Derby each have three points and each have a goal difference of 0. The Royals travel to Teesside for their final group game next month, with all to play for.
Meanwhile, our Under-16 side – whose Premier League Cup fixtures mirror that of the U18 group – are on course to qualify for the next stage. They also came from behind to win at Aston Villa on Saturday by a 3-2 scoreline, added to their 2-2 draw from their opening game against Derby.