Opponents drawn for competition’s group stageFor the first time in 15 years, we are set to compete in the EFL Trophy – and we will meet Portsmouth, Bristol Rovers and Yeovil Town in the group stage!
We haven’t been eligible to enter for the past decade and a half – a quarter-final defeat to Barnet in 2001/02 in what was then known as the LDV Vans Trophy was our last outing in the tournament.
But the revamped version of the competition will see teams compete in a round-robin against the other three clubs in their group, before heading into a knock-out format. Rather than just the 48 clubs from League 1 and League 2 entering, this year those teams are also joined by 16 invited EPPP Category 1 clubs – including Reading!
As a Category 1 club, we are obliged to field a minimum of six U21 players (as at June 30) in our starting XI for our games – meaning our fledgling players will get a chance to match up against some teams from the third and fourth tier. Our draw will see us visit the Memorial Stadium and Fratton Park, before hosting the Glovers at Madejski Stadium in our final group game.
An added quirk of the competition means that we will be awarded 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw… but in the event of a drawn game (after 90 minutes), a penalty shootout will be held with the winning team earning an additional point!
The top two teams from each of the 16 groups will progress to the Knockout Stage. Round 2 will remain regionalised with each group winner being drawn at home to a second placed team from a different qualifying group – but from Round 3 onwards, it will be a ‘free’ draw between the remaining clubs. All knock-out rounds are one leg, and the final takes place at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 2nd April 2017.
The new-look competition also has an enhanced prize fund with an expected £1.95m up for grabs, including £10,000 per win and £5,000 per draw during the Group Stage as well as £100,000 for the eventual winner.
Our draw dates are as follows:
Southern Group A
Match Day 1 – w/c 29th August 2016
Bristol Rovers v Reading
Match Day 2 – w/c 3rd October 2016
Portsmouth v Reading
Match Day 3 – w/c 7th November 2016
Reading v Yeovil Town