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U21s: "We're lost for words!"

18 March 2014

Kelly and Tanner recall semi-final Arsenal win

The two goalscorers from our side that beat Arsenal to reach to Barclays Under-21s Premier League final were simply lost for words after a superb extra-time victory.

Striker Craig Tanner bagged and brace and 18-year-old attacker Liam Kelly headed the third in our 3-1 win at Boreham Wood, and both of them spoke to our official TV channel after the game.

Asked by Reading FC Player to summarise the triumph, Tanner said: "I don't really know, we're lost for words!

Click here to watch highlights from the Cup win, free during the trial of Player.

"We dug in deep, we knew we had a good chance because Arsenal were going down with cramp. We knew we had the mental and physical edge. We kept going, and thankfully we got the result."

Pint-sized playmaker Liam Kelly, who also played 120 minutes for the under-18s in their FA Youth Cup shoot-out win over Liverpool, scored his first ever header to seal the win in the 107th minute - and he puts our fantastic youth achievements down to team spirit.

"It was a tough game but when you win it's always enjoyable. We knew we could win it because of our great team spirit," said the youngster, who has been with the Royals since the age of eight.

"We had a breakaway and then got a throw-in on the far side. When Shane Griffin crossed it in it just came to my head - I've never scored a header before so it was great!

"We make sure we work harder than a lot of teams, and with our spirit it all joins together. The work we do at the training ground with the coaches Doddsy, Michael and Eamonn all really helps."

Forward Tanner scored twice and almost had more, but 12 goals in 11 games since returning from injury in November is a record to be proud of.

"I had a mini-drought having not scored for the past two games so I wanted to make sure I evened it up," Tanner added.

"I had time to adjust a few things with my body since coming back from. I'm now in the best shape I've ever been in. I've watched clips, worked on my power, my movement off the ball, worked hard with the physio team, so hopefully it's now all coming together.

The Royals under-21s will now play either Manchester City or Burnley in the final, and Tanner says the team would much prefer to face the former.

"We lost to Man City a few weeks ago in the league, so we'd prefer them so we can get revenge on them and lift the cup."

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