U21s boss delighted with Cup progressProfessional Phase Coach Martin Kuhl hailed the U21s’ decisive moment of quality as they overcame Huddersfield to reach the semi-finals of the Premier League Cup.
With the tight affair locked at 0-0 and looking destined for penalties, Jack Stacey delivered the knockout punch by cutting in from the left and curling home in the 119th minute.
The late goal rewarded a fine defensive display from the young Royals, who denied the Terriers any shots on target, and they are potentially now just three games away from defending the trophy that they lifted in April.
“We didn’t want to get hit on the counter attack and we dealt with their attacks very well,” said the U21s manager. “We grew into the game and had a lot of possession, but without a lot of quality.
“We asked for that little bit of extra quality and Stace scored a great goal to win it for us. It was a good ball from Aaron [Kuhl] and Jack finished it very well.
“He took it inside and it was a great finish. That’s what we were asking for and, when we got it, it was fantastic. I said to him that it’s another one to add to his tally.
“It is one thing that Jack has had to work on; his finishing. He’s got a lot of strengths and now he’s starting to score a lot of goals. He scored an almost identical goal against Newcastle last weekend.”
He continued: “We came here under no illusions that it was going to be a difficult game. Huddersfield are a decent team and are doing well in their league.
“They beat Charlton on penalties in the round before, and Everton before that, so we knew that they would be strong at the back.
“I said to the boys that if we took them lightly then we could end up with egg on our faces but we’re holders of the cup, we didn’t want to go out and we applied ourselves well to get the result.”
The U21s have now won six of their last seven games and Kuhl believes that they are starting to string a run of results together at just the right time.
He said: “It’s the same as last year. We hit a bit of form over Christmas and have kicked on since then.
“I’ve said to all of the players that their objective should be to get into the first team and the gaffer was here to watch them. The last time he came was against West Brom, which was disappointing, but they’ve come back today and did very well.”
“There are some top teams left in this competition. We’ve got a game with Bolton on Monday and the lads should be flying. We’re looking forward to that one now.”