Academy side defeated 2-0 at CobhamReading’s Under-18s fell to a first defeat since the opening day of the season when they travelled to Chelsea, whose two goals in the final 20 minutes earned them a 2-0 win at Cobham.
The hosts had the better of the play in the first period, but couldn’t find a way past Liam Driscoll in the Reading net. Ben House could only find the side-netting in a much-improved second period for the Royals, but then Tariq Uwakwe finished off a neat team move to get the Blues ahead with 20 minutes left to play.
Our boys weren’t dispirited after going a goal down and continued to create, and goalkeeper Jamie Cumming was forced into action on a few occasions. But, in pushing for that equaliser, the Royals were exploited at the other end as Charlie Brown put in a game-sealing goal in the final minute for the West London club.
Under-18 manager David Dodds gave his assessment on a game which, on another day, Reading might have been able to wrangle a better result from against an opposition of the highest order.
“It’s always a gauge of where you’re at when you play against Chelsea,” Dodds said in reflection on the game.
“We started the game off defending quite deep and trying to play on the counter-attack, which resulted in Chelsea having the vast majority of possession. We had some interesting breaks and situations which we could possibly have turned into better-quality chances.
“And apart of the first minute or so of the game, they didn’t have outstanding chances – we had some situations around the back of them where on another day you might get a better cross or more players arriving in the middle.
“It was goalless at half-time, and we had words at the break about being a bit more progressive and pressing higher up the pitch – which we did. Ethan Coleman came on early in the second half and made the difference – he got about them and we started to move the ball around more fluently, and we moved Chelsea from side to side.
“We got several chances down the right-hand side with Joel Rollinson and Teddy Howe combining well and putting some great crosses in, including one which was nearly put in his own net by a Chelsea defender, and another one where a loose ball bounced out to Danny Loader and the ‘keeper saved with his foot from about 12 yards out.
“After that really good 20-minute spell, we ended up conceding a goal. After that we still had chances to equalise, although as the game developed we had to push more and more for the equaliser… and then we got hit at the end with a sucker-punch.”
Dodds was pleased with a number of aspects – no less than the lessons they can take from their visit to Cobham and some of the individual performances… but he hopes that the team can keep showing the high standards that they have set for themselves in the coming weeks.
“All in all, it was a good learning experience,” Dodds continued. “We’ll probably try to be a bit more progressive earlier in the game when we play them again. There are some positive signs, and the things that you need to work on are always highlighted against a team of that quality. We’ll go away and learn from that and be better-prepared next time.
“We’ve done well so far and climbed to second in the league; we’ve had some really good performances and the likes of Tyler Frost and Tom McIntyre are regulars with the Under-23s now. We’ve got Arsenal next week who are top of the league, and that’s great – playing against the best teams in the country who invest a lot of money means that we can really gauge we are against the best in the country. We’ll dust ourselves down and go again next week.
“The positives were that Liam Driscoll, our goalkeeper, did well and made some really good saves early on. Teddy Howe, Joel Rollinson and Ethan Coleman all did well too. And in the last half-hour we played more like our old selves and players’ performance levels came up. Before that I thought we were a bit under-par for the standards we have set.”
Full-time: Chelsea U18 2-0 Reading U18
Chelsea U18: Cumming, James, Dasilva, Grant, Guehi, McCormick, McEachran (Brown 86), Uwakwe, Gallagher (Familio-Castillo 69), St Clair, Taylor-Crossdale (Nartey 89).
Unused sub: Thompson.
Reading U18: Driscoll, Howe, Medford-Smith, Odimayo, Philby, Shokunbi (Denton 86), Rollinson, Green (Coleman 55), Holsgrove, Loader, House.
Unused subs: Hillson, Wilson, Buchanan.