Joel Rollinson strike earns Royals a point against fellow high flyers SouthamptonReading continued their impressive start to the U18 Premier League season with a hard fought draw against fellow high flyers Southampton at Hogwood Park.
Despite going behind to a goal early in the second half, thanks to a close range header from Tyreke Johnson, the Royals rallied. Reading found their equaliser after a string of chances through Joel Rollinson, who fired the home side level from a corner, ensuring the Royals earned a share of the spoils in Berkshire.
The point leaves Reading third in the U18 Premier League South with 11 points on the board after six games and only two points behind table topping Arsenal.
Under 18 manager David Dodds said: “Southampton were quite direct which meant it was a bit of a different game – we had to work off the second balls at times, and that’s something we don’t have to do a lot. We had to win those second balls to give us a base of possession in midfield when they kicked long.
“We started the game off playing out from the back and we managed to move them about a bit and create a couple of half-decent chances and hit the post in the first half.
“In the first half we were comfortable,” continued Dodds. “In the second half we came out a bit sloppily to be honest and started a bit slowly and allowed them a bit of a foothold in the game. That meant they had a couple of chances, which they got their goal from.”
It was the Saints who started the faster in the second period, coming out at the beginning of the second half and seizing the initiative with the away side taking advantage of their early superiority.
Harlem Hale’s fine run and cross found Johnson in the centre who made no mistake from six yards out. Dodds was pleased with the way his side responded however, feeling they showed a good level of maturity for a side so young.
“Sometimes it can be difficult for young players to regain the momentum of a game,” admitted the U18’s boss. “But I thought they did that – they started to play properly again and got the control of the game back for the last half-hour.
“We eventually got our goal after a few near-misses – it was a set-piece where we got to the second-ball first and Joel Rollinson rifled the ball in!
“We couldn’t quite squeeze the ball over the line for a second goal to win it,” he continued. “We had several chances and Southampton were playing on the counter and had little flurries, but generally we had the better of the chances.
“Ade Shokunbi went through and slid a ball through to Ben House, who was unfortunate to lose his footing as he struck the ball, and a great cross from Jordan Holsgrove whizzed across the area and was just asking to be tucked in at the back post – but it wasn’t to be.”
Reading Under-18s: Joe Tupper, Teddy Howe, Ramarni Medford-Smith, Ade Shokunbi (Jack Denton 89), Akin Odimayo (c), Harry Philby, Joel Rollinson, Ethan Coleman, Ben House, Jordan Holsgrove, Cameron Green.
Unused substitutes: Liam Driscoll (GK), Joe Wilson, Jack Buchanan, Jazz Wallace.
Goal: Rollinson (78)
Southampton Under-18s: Adam Parkes, Connor Langan, Jake Vokins, Harry Hamblin, Aaron O’Driscoll, Christoph Klarer, Harrison Davis, Will Smallbone, Tyreke Johnson, Siph Mdlalose, Harlem Hale.
Unused substitutes: Neal Osborn (GK), Ollie Gardner, Javen Siu, Michael Obafemi.
Goal: Johnson (48).