Academy outfit triumphant against LeicesterReading’s Under-18s were 2-1 victors against Leicester City on Saturday, ensuring they stay second in the Under-18 Premier League South table going into the Christmas break.
They still have one more fixture to come before the festive period – an FA Youth Cup tie with Man City at Madejski Stadium – but league fixtures are now on hold until the New Year.
Only Chelsea have amassed more points than the Royals so far this season in the South section – City currently top the North.
And Saturday’s victory came without the inclusion of attacking duo Danny Loader and Jordan Holsgrove, who had played a big part in the Under-23s’ 1-0 victory against Stoke the evening before, as well as Tyler Frost who has been involved as a regular at that age-group.
The Royals got off to the perfect start against the Foxes on Saturday – Joel Rollinson, who had been on the bench for the win against the Potters, had Reading ahead before the game had passed the two-minute mark as he intercepted high, drove goalwards and finished neatly.
And then midway through the second half, Cameron Green doubled Reading’s lead – he had drawn a save from the stopper a few minutes before, but this time he did well to get over a half-volley after Rollinson and Teddy Howe had combined on the other side.
The arrears were reduced shortly after the hour-mark – Foxes sub Christopher Elliott struck in reply within a minute of being subbed on, pulling the visitors back within a goal.
But the Royals’ defence held on to earn their victory – their ninth triumph from their 15 games so far this season.
Under-18 manager David Dodds said: “It was nice to see three lads from our age-group starting in the Under-23s’ win over Stoke – that was really good for their development and their careers. And importantly they did well; it’s one thing having a chance, but I thought they took it well and I know Martin Kuhl and Michael Gilkes were pleased with them.
“That gave some other lads a chance to have a go in the Under-18s on Saturday – Jazz Wallace came in to start for us and did well. It was a good weekend for development across the age-groups.
“We started off really quickly – Joel intercepted a pass, drove at the back-four and struck across the goalkeeper, so it was a great start. After that, Leicester were very solid and well organised and also passed the ball around well at times which meant that we had to defend for periods.
“Then we scored a second – Teddy and Joel had been combining really well down the right in the first half, and a cross came in – Cameron Green did well to keep his shot down and make it two for us.
“Leicester really gambled after half-time – they pressed us aggressively and sometimes there were six or seven men pressing our back four to try to stop us playing out. That meant there were a lot of loose balls. We did have a couple of chances, but it was Leicester that got the game’s third goal which got their tales up and meant we had to hang on a bit.
“But I thought we played well in the last 15 minutes. We got down the sides of them and frustrated them, and they tried to get it forward quickly. So we saw the game out and did well with a young team.”
Full-time: Reading U18 2-1 Leicester City U18
Reading U18: Driscoll, Howe (Wilson 69), Medford-Smith, Philby (Burley 56), Odimayo, Shokunbi (Denton 78), Coleman, Rollinson, Green, Wallace, House.
Unused subs: Sparta, Buchanan.
Leicester City U18: Harrison, Heaven, Thandi, Gruno, Templeton, Brown, Leshabela, Hodby (Gill 78), Edwards-John (Elliott 63), Fielding (Tee 62), Webber.
Unused subs: Billson, Ughelumba.