A preview of our loanees’ games this weekendA number of our young players went out on loan during the transfer window – and with six of our fledgling talents now competing with their temporary clubs in League 2!
That, inevitably, means that some of our Academy graduates will be named on opposite sides of the teamsheets in the coming weeks… we already have two head-to-head this weekend with Jack Stacey and Tariqe Fosu meeting each other in Colchester, and Rob Dickie and Craig Tanner meeting in Plymouth!
Here’s a look ahead to the weekend’s action…
We’ve got an all-Royal affair at the Colchester Community Stadium on Saturday, with Tariqe Fosu hoping to make his debut for Colchester United and Jack Stacey aiming for a start in the colours of Exeter City.
The pair both departed Madejski Stadium on deadline day to make the move until the new year in their league clubs. Just the night before, both had been in action for a young Reading squad at the Memorial Stadium as our lads triumphed 3-2 at the expense of Bristol Rovers. Last season Stacey gained loan experience in League 2 with Barnet and Carlisle, and Fosu spent time on the same tier with Accrington.
And now Fosu will be aiming to help the U’s to preserve their perfect home record so far this season – beating both Cambridge and Grimsby on their patch – while Stacey will be targeting back-to-back wins for the Grecians, who were 2-1 victors when they visited Accrington last month.
Meanwhile there could be a third debutant at the same level. Dominic Hyam was the last player to depart before the window slammed shut as he made a switch to the south coast with Portsmouth.
Hyam isn’t scheduled to meet Fosu or Stacey – Pompey’s two most recent matches so happened to be against Colchester and Exeter, and they won’t meet again until their loan spells have ended. Victory for the Hampshire club in each of those two games has pushed them up the league after a wobbly start, and Saturday sees Crawley Town visit Fratton Park.
Craig Tanner and Rob Dickie recently linked up once again with their former loan clubs Plymouth Argyle and Cheltenham Town respectively. And on Saturday they will prepare in different dressing rooms at Home Park with three important points at stake.
Tanner made his Pilgrims return as a sub in a 1-0 away win against Blackpool last week, and then played the duration – and scored a goal – in a 4-1 home won against Newport in the EFL Trophy in midweek. After winning National League promotion with the Robins last season, Dickie capped a League 2 debut for Cheltenham last weekend with a goal in a 2-0 win over Crewe, but was on the end of a 2-1 EFL Trophy defeat in Blackpool on Tuesday evening.
And now the pair will by vying for a win for their respective loan clubs in Devon, as they try to build some early-season form.
And finally in League 2, defender Sean Long and Cambridge United will be in action as they head to Mansfield Town. It has been a grind so far for the U’s – their only win of the season to date has been an extra-time win against Sheffield Wednesday in the EFL Cup, but that doesn’t paper over the cracks of two draws and three defeats from five league outings – which has left them bottom of the table.
In League 1, Jonathan Bond could make his first Priestfield outing for Gillingham as they welcome Sheffield United to Kent. The 23-year-old stopper made his bow at Shrewsbury last weekend, and performed heroics to keep his side in the game at two goals down… allowing them to eventually triumph 3-2 with a goal in the final throes.
Boreham Wood and Aaron Kuhl have a cross-London trip to Dagenham & Redbridge this Saturday, as they look for a first National League win in six games. Two wins to open the campaign for the Wood put them in good stead, but results have dried up a little of late – which is why the Royals midfielder has been drafted in. The Daggers, on the other hand, are making a fist of it as they try to bounce back to League 2 at the first time of asking – they have taken five wins from their opening seven league outings.
Even in the National League South, there will be Royal against Royal – and it’s a battle of the goalkeepers! Margate, where stopper Lewis Ward is on loan, are due to host Hungerford Town and his fellow Reading custodian George Legg… and the visitors will count our former Premier League full-back Nicky Shorey amongst their number, after he joined the Crusaders on Friday!
And finally, first-year pro Sam Smith visits Hemel Hempstead with Bishop’s Stortford – the 18-year-old hit a winner on his debut for his loan club against Gosport on their last away outing, and they go in search of their third away win in the National League South this season.