Kuhl reflects on shoot-out win in TrophyReading took a step closer to progressing to the knock-out stages of the Checkatrade Trophy with a penalty shoot-out win against Portsmouth at Fratton Park – and our Under-23 manager Martin Kuhl, who led a young Royals squad in Hampshire, was pleased with the attitude the team showed.
The Royals were two goals to the good through Andrija Novakovich and Joseph Mendes, before Curtis Main swung the pendulum back in Pompey’s favour with a quick-fire brace. Kuhl’s young charges rallied well though and held the hosts to a 2-2 draw… and ultimately took a bonus point when Tyler Frost converted the decisive spot-kick after Anssi Jaakkola had saved four.
Qualification isn’t quite yet secured, although any kind of result against Yeovil in the final group game at Madejski Stadium next month would see them into the final 32.
“Personally, I thought the attitude, endurance and endeavour were all good – and the mentality was good after we were pegged back from two goals up,” said Kuhl on reflection after the game. ”And to perform in the shoot-out how we did – scoring the first three, missing the next four and then winning it – was fantastic experience for the lads.
“In terms of the game itself, we didn’t dictate the ball as much as we wanted to and we were loose in certain areas. Although there were certain periods where we played some excellent football.
“You can practice penalties, but the only way you can do it is in a penalty shoot-out. People hate them, but as we said to them after the game – go and enjoy it. Four of them probably didn’t enjoy it! But that’s all experience, which is fantastic.”
And the experience element was a particularly pertinent point. Seven of the starting XI, and all seven on the bench, were products of the Reading Academy and the game offered them a new and different type of challenge.
Involvement in the Checkatrade Trophy, as well the Premier League International Cup and a group format for the Premier League Cup, has dramatically increased the number of competitive games that his players are involved in this term.
“We’ve got at least one more game, and hopefully many more in this competition,” Kuhl continued. “If we do, that’s fantastic – it’s more experience for us. We’ll look forward to that game against Yeovil now.
“We’ve got the Checkatrade Trophy, we’ve got games in the Premier League International Cup against Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao, we’ve got the Premier League Cup, and some fantastic league games. For us, the more competitive the games we can get, the better. Long may it continue.”