Royals knocked out by high-flying CitizensReading’s FA Youth Cup campaign came to an early end at the hands of Manchester City at Madejski Stadium on Thursday evening, who scored twice either side of half-time without reply.
The Royals by no means gave their visitors an easy ride and on another night might have had that little bit of luck they needed to get their noses in front during a tight opening exchange. But a quick-fire brace before the break by Brahim Diaz and Philip Foden got the visitors into a lead which Reading were unable to assail.
Lukas Nmecha’s two goals in the second period made the task too tall – the Royals worked hard until the very end, but weren’t able to earn their rewards against the current leaders of the U18 Premier League North.
City’s first chance came with a quick break down the right as Luke Bolton crossed low for Lukas Nmecha, but it was just out of stretching reach for the striker.
But then the Royals had a couple of chances in succession which they couldn’t quite convert. First Joel Rollinson’s deep cross found Danny Loader unmarked at the far stick, but he curled his shot off target after controlling and stepping round a challenge.
And then Tyler Frost had a chance to beat Pawel Sokol from distance – loose play left the stopper stranded but a defender was well-placed to block.
The Royals were nearly gifted an opener through visiting captain Joel Latibeaudiere – a whipped delivery was meant for striker Ben House, but it was the defender who volleyed half a yard past his own post.
So it was a cruel blow when City took the lead – goalkeeper Liam Driscoll had initially made a good save, but Diaz’s follow up was deemed to have crossed the line as it was hacked away.
That was followed in quick succession by a decisive strike by Foden, who rounded off a slick passing move with venom to match.
Reading might have had a penalty when House’s run in behind resulted in a heavy-handed shunt off the ball by Latibeaudiere on the cover – but the ref wasn’t interested.
And minutes after the break, the lead was three through Nmecha who rode a challenge before arrowing in a fierce strike from the edge of the area.
The Royals might have reduced the arrears back to two within minutes as Harry Philby and Howe won headers in the City box, but the ref spotted an infringement as the Royals tried to scramble in.
But it was City who hit the fourth and final goal on the hour mark, as Nmecha turned in a low cross from Bolton from inside the six-yard box.
There was no let-up in effort from the Royals despite the deficit – and a consolation goal nearly came. First Howe squared for Frost, but the midfielder could only find the side netting. And then sub Jack Nolan’s cross was met with a fierce volley by Joel Rollinson, only for the goalkeeper to block out as Reading’s work went unrewarded.
Full-time: Reading U18 0-4 Man City U18
Reading U18: Driscoll, Howe, Medford-Smith, Philby, Odimayo (Balogun 76), Coleman (Shokunbi 61), Frost, Rollinson, Holsgrove, Loader, House (Nolan 64).
Unused subs: Hilson, Wallace.
Man City U18: Sokol, Duhaney, Latibeaudiere, Francis, Frimpong, Smith, Bolton (Dele-Bashiru 66), Foden, Nmecha, Diaz (Hardy 89), Sancho.
Unused subs: Rosler, Anderson, Gonzalez.