Derby's draw sends Royals upMartin Kuhl hailed the mentality of Reading’s U21s after they were ensured of promotion to Premier League Division One last night.
A goalless draw between Derby County and West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns means that the Rams can no longer catch the Royals, who still have two games of the season to play.
An incredible run of results, which has yielded seven successive wins, has propelled Kuhl’s men up the table and he cited a defeat in January as the turning point in their season.
The U21s boss said: “We were disappointed to miss out on promotion last season but the turning point was the 5-0 thrashing that we had a West Brom. That was the first game that the gaffer had come to see the U21s play and since then, mentally, physically and technically, we have been superb.
“We’ve gone on a run and have been really good. At the beginning of the season, we were very pleased because we had 10 academy boys in the first-team squad and that gave the younger boys a great chance to come into the U21s and, when they’ve come back, it’s been a very good battle.”
Tariqe Fosu became the last of 11 academy graduates to represent the first team in 2014/15 and Kuhl delighted for the club’s entire youth set up.
“It’s been a very god season from the academy all round,” he said. “For a club our size and, considering the investment that we have in the academy, it is great.
“The first team were a bit unfortunate at the start of the season with injuries but that allowed a lot of the U21s squad to break through. The manager has chucked a few kids in later in the season and I don’t think that they have ever let the first team down when called upon. It’s been a great experience for them and they have got their feet through the door.”
He continued: “We’ve got a good U21s group; they had a great run when they were U16s. At U18s they reached the final of the national play-off and semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup.
“They’ve got a great mentality too; a great focus. I could just throw a ball into the middle of them and they’ll just play. They love football. Their mental strength and what they do off the pitch with all their analysis, it’s almost religious.”
The U21s' final match of the season against West Bromwich Albion is being played at Madejski Stadium on May 15th, kick-off 7pm, and fans can attend for FREE.