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Preview: Semi-final place at stake for U18s…

26 February 2016

Royals gunning for place in the last four against Chelsea

Chelsea U18 vs Reading U18
FA Youth Cup, quarter-final
Stamford Bridge
Friday 26th February 2016, 7.05pm


It’s not just the Royals’ first-team that are aiming to take a place in a cup semi-final this year…

… our Under-18s are one step away from securing a spot in the final four of the FA Youth Cup for the second time in three seasons – only Chelsea stand in the way on Friday evening’s trip to Stamford Bridge.

That’s not a bad hit-rate from our Academy – in particular when you consider that it’s a completely new crop of players in the Under-18 squad at present than the one which came oh-so-close to overcoming Fulham in the semis two years ago.  All 11 of the starters from the Madejski Stadium leg in 2014 are now on pro contracts with the Royals.

This year’s competition almost came to an early end… but the boys showed character typical of any Reading side by rescuing a third-round tie at the very death, forcing extra-time and ultimately a win.  And from there, wins at Fulham and Wolves have set up a visit to the Bridge… sometimes the stars just align.

Here’s a reminder of how we got here…

Third round: Reading U18 3-1 Sheffield United U18 (AET)

Blades forward Connor Hall got the Blades in front at Madejski Stadium – finishing off neatly, but against the run of play.  Never downhearted, and fighting until the bitter end, the Royals equalised with seconds to spare as Gabriel Osho bundled in a corner to force extra-time.  That allowed Josh Barrett to put Reading ahead from the spot when Sam Smith was felled in the area – goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale receiving his marching orders – and Danny Loader capped a great night with a goal in the final minute of the 120.
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Match blog
David Dodds’ reaction
Highlights

Fourth round: Fulham U18 1-3 Reading U18

Reading went behind to their hosts as early as the third minute at Motspur Park; Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson curled in a terrific effort to give Fulham the advantage.  Luke Southwood kept the Royals within a goal with a penalty stop as Dennis Adeniran drew a foul in the box – the midfielder was denied from 12 yards with a stunning save.  That set the base for a fightback – Tyler Frost equalised when Daniel Akinwunmi got to the byline and cut back, and then goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond was sent off for a foul on Sam Smith in the area.  Josh Barrett missed from the spot for Reading, but Ryan East soon had Reading ahead before a late match-sealing goal from striker Smith.
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Match blog
David Dodds’ reaction
Highlights

Fifth round: Wolverhampton Wanderers U18 0-3 Reading U18

The trip to Molineux was less dramatic than the previous two rounds – but just as satisfying.  The opening goal came before the 20-minute mark from Smith – skill on the wing from Conor Davis allowed him to play in Barrett, who in turn fed the forward to drill in from close range.  Smith’s second followed before the break and it was the same combination – this time it was a rambunctious run from Barrett down the left that allowed him to set up Smith, who hammered in under the bar.  Captain Barrett, provider of two, got onto the scoresheet in the second period when Omar Richards slotted a nicely-weighted ball into his path for him to stab past the goalkeeper and complete the scoring.
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Match blog
David Dodds’/Michael Gilkes’ reaction
Highlights

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