U23 boss on win against Birmingham in the MidlandsThe Royals’ Under-23 squad kicked off their Premier League Cup campaign with a 3-1 win against Birmingham City in Solihull on Saturday – and manager Martin Kuhl was delighted with what he saw from his players.
A first-minute goal by Andy Rinomhota was followed up by one apiece for Academy scholars Tyler Frost and Tom McIntyre as Reading secured three points in the group stage on a rain-soaked day in the Midlands.
Their hosts currently sit second in the Professional Development League, following a 4-0 and 5-0 wins against Cardiff and Crystal Palace respectively in their two most recent fixtures – so it was destined to be a tough afternoon. But the Royals showed their class and battling spirit and came away victorious.
“We started very well,” Kuhl said after the game. “The way we played, we were sometimes open and sometimes we created chances for them because of bits of loose play, but we had large patches of the game where we controlled it.
“Stuart Moore made three good saves for us, although we had a lot of chances to score which we didn’t take. But in possession we were very good – some of the patches of play were excellent.
“It rained a lot – but the pitch was nice at Solihull Moors. It was firm and nice, and the weather chucked down for the whole game. That was great for us because the pitch was quick, which meant we could move the ball quick.
“We controlled the tempo of the game really well. Like the first team, we changed one formation for another dependent on what was needed. The lads were really good – we worked on it a lot on Friday and they worked it quite well.
“Birmingham are second in their league and just a point off the top. They beat the likes of Palace and Cardiff in the last few weeks.
“So we knew when we went there that we’d be in for a decent game. We had to work hard – but they also had to work hard to try and contain us though.”
The Royals were inaugural winners of the competition in 2014 – but last year they stumbled at the first hurdle at the hands of Brentford.
Because of a change in format for this instalment of the competition, Reading are competing in a group stage for the first time – and Kuhl sees extra game-time as a positive for the players.
“We’ve been good in this competition – we won it in the first year, and then we got pipped in the semis the next year when we should have gone through,” he continued.
“Last year was disappointing because we went out in the first round, but this year is good because it gives us more games – the more competitive games our lads can have, the better. It allows them to put pressure on the first-team lads.”