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Dodds previews knock-out tie at Fulham

18 January 2016

U18 manager looks ahead to tonight’s cup tie

Heading into Monday evening’s FA Youth Cup fourth round fixture at Fulham’s Motspur Park, both Reading and the Cottagers are in good form.

The Royals have won six of their last eight games in league and cup, while Fulham are looking for their seventh victory on the bounce.

“It should be a really good game,” said Reading Under-18s head coach David Dodds.  “The Youth Cup games are the closest to a first-team debut the lads can get, in my opinion. 

“The tournament is so high profile and the hype surrounding the games gives the boys great experience.“

The last time the two teams met was in the league earlier in the season, when Reading snatched a late winner to beat the Cottagers 2-1 at Hogwood Park.  But Dodds thinks meeting Fulham in knock-out competition will pose a different test for his side.

“It will be a good head-to-head this evening; both sides are in good form heading into a game that will be decided on the night,” he continued.  “The boys have trained well so we are going into the fixture with confidence.

“We won in a tight game earlier in the season, and we know they have a few players that play with the Under-21s, so we know they are a good team.  But we don’t want to put too much on the result earlier in the season because of the nature of the Youth Cup and the fact it’s a one off game.”

Back in 2014 the Royals met Fulham in the semi-final of the Youth Cup, but that time it was the Cottagers that came out on top over the two legs, and Dodds believes tonight’s game will provide the current crop of youngsters with a good stage to show what they can do.

“Tonight is a good opportunity for the boys to show what they can do especially under the pressure that the Youth Cup provides,” said the Royals Academy coach.

“The boys showed good character in the last round and were able to dig in to take the game to extra time against Sheffield United, who were a dangerous opponent.  The way they dug in impressed me, and I think that’s something they’ll have to show again tonight.

“I think both us and Fulham produce and have produced good players, which I think is very important.  Obviously there was a close semi-final against them a couple of years ago and it will be another tight game tonight, I’m sure.”

For more information about this fixture, including ticket information and directions to Motspur Park, click here.

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