Youngsters defeat Southampton at HogwoodOur Under-18 contingent are back to second position in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League (South) table, following a 3-1 home victory against Southampton at Hogwood on Saturday.
It marked an eighth win from 13 games in the 2015/16 season for the Royals youngsters, helping the side to climb to within one place of the summit in the 12-team league. It was the second time in the season that the Royals had won by a 3-1 scoreline against the Saints, following a victory at Staplewood in August.
David Dodds’ boys went into the fixture looking to pick up points following consecutive defeats – trips to league-leaders Chelsea and their London rivals Arsenal had seen Reading leave empty-handed in the last fortnight.
And after 21 minutes, an inswinging corner from captain Josh Barrett was met at the back post by Tom Holmes to put Reading ahead. Ten minutes later, the lead was doubled as Omar Richards sent in a cross for Sam Smith to sweep in.
The Royals added a third before the interval as Tyler Frost released Barrett, and the skipper showed composure to loft the ball over the advancing goalkeeper to put Reading into a commanding lead.
Barrett might have got his second and Reading’s fourth after the break, when Smith drew a foul from Saints youngster Yann Valery, but goalkeeper Jake Hallett guessed directly to push the ball to safety at his left-hand side.
A late goal for Southampton – as Stuart Wilkin smashed in via the post – mattered little to the result as our Under-18s secured the three points.
If Reading can secure a top-four finish when the 22-game season finishes at the new year, they will enter Group 1 for the Final Stage, which will also include the four highest-ranked teams from the North group – Everton, Man City, Liverpool and Sunderland currently occupy those places.
And with the FA Youth Cup first round fixtures taking place over the last week, we’re a step closer to knowing who our first opponents could be when the third round draw takes place.
In other youth news, our Under-21s were knocked out of the Under-21 Premier League Cup against Brentford last week, but currently occupy third spot in the league table and could go top by winning games in hand on Sunderland and Tottenham.
We have also been investing in our future and several of our young pros and Academy starlets have committed to contracts with the club – click here for more information.