Academy Manager pleased with Checkatrade Trophy experienceThe Royals took a step closer to reaching the knock-out stages of the Checkatrade Trophy with a penalty win against Portsmouth on Tuesday evening… and Academy Manager Lee Herron was delighted with the range of experience that the match offered to our fledgling players.
10 players in the matchday squad were teenagers – including 17-year-old starters Tyler Frost and Tom McIntyre – and 14 of the team were products of our Academy at Hogwood Park.
Reading were two goals to the good through Andrija Novakovich and Joseph Mendes before Curtis Main bagged a brace to level things up at 2-2. And in the unique ruling for this competition, Reading were able to earn a bonus point from a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
“In the Under-23 league and these cup competitions that we are in, we’re using development squad players – it’s not one team, because the team changes regularly,” explained Herron. “So the more games we have got and, as I keep saying, the different types of experiences which these players get is only going to help them.
“That’s the second game where we haven’t lost in the 90 minutes in the competition, and to get the penalties at the end is different for a lot of the players.
“We’re delighted with how it went. You’d want to win the game in 90 minutes, but from a developmental perspective, with the penalties and how they went, it’s another snapshot in the young players’ development.
“The game has everything in – going 2-0 up and then getting conceding two, the game can change very quickly. We had to compose ourselves at that point because it can be quite easy to concede a third. But we didn’t – the mentality was really good at that stage. We grew back into it and had chances to win the game in 90 minutes.
“We mentioned in the changing room after the game that the mentality when it went to 2-2 was very positive – they stuck at it. You have to do that – it’s not just about your time with the ball, it’s about how you do without it as well.”
That second group game was played in a lively atmosphere at Fratton Park – and now Reading will return to Madejski Stadium in November, looking to complete the job against Yeovil Town.
“The Portsmouth fans are fantastic as we all know, and it felt like there were a lot more in the stands than there was – they made a lot of noise, especially for the penalties,” Herron continued. “And the followers from Reading that came tonight made the best of what was there. It was a good atmosphere for the lads.
“All players want different experience – it all adds to their development. Going into that final game in a group stage competition where we know we need something from it… there’s some added spice to it.
“It’s going to be another tough game and it’s different because it’s at home… it’ll be a test and a challenge and we’ll need to get something out of it to guarantee ourselves another game in this competition.”