Youngsters triumph away against LeicesterThe Royals’ Academy squad recorded their third straight victory in the Under-18 Premier League on Saturday with a 2-0 win against Leicester City.
After back-to-back home wins for the youngsters on home turf either side of the international break – with Fulham and Tottenham each losing out to the Royals – David Dodds’ team earned another three points from their visit to the East Midlands.
Reading defender Akinwale Odimayo – the match-winner in the 4-3 triumph against Spurs – was again on the scoresheet and broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark as he headed in Joel Rollinson’s dangerous delivery from the corner.
The game remained on a knife-edge until five minutes from time, when Rollinson was again the provider as Danny Loader struck the Royals’ second to complete the scoring. For the Reading defence, it was a second clean-sheet of the season following their goalless draw away at Aston Villa.
“They have all been different performances,” said Under-18 manager David Dodds, reflecting on the three straight wins. “The lads are learning to play different gameplans and against different opposition.
“Leicester came out the traps quickly and had a couple of shots blocked and hit the bar – but we managed to weather that storm and then we got a foothold in the game and played a bit more in their half. We got a couple of corners and Joel Rollinson put a great ball and Akinwale scored for the second week running.
“There was a really high tempo to the game with players shutting down on both sides. I think it was going to go the way of the team that was going to play in pockets of quality and I think we had enough of those to get chances.
“They defended with some desire there – you’re never going to lose a game when you clean sheet. We did a little bit better than we did against Tottenham – we broke from that tight shape at the end and got down the right, and Joel Rollison again got his head up and picked out Danny Loader who finished with a great first touch. The players are forming little partnerships all over the pitch now.”
The run of results is particularly impressive owing to the fact that some of the better-performing players have stepped up beyond the U18 group to play up to the Under-23 level.
“Tyler Frost and Tom McIntyre are with the Under-23s at the moment which is fantastic,” Dodds continued. “That means that we’ve got some younger players playing up and some younger Under-16s joining us on Wednesdays for training and playing in those games.
“And Danny Loader is away for a couple of weeks now with England – that’s a good thing but we’ll miss him for the next couple of games. That means a chance for someone else to step into the fold, and that’s good for us.”
Leicester City U18: Yates, Thandi, Ughelumba, Gruno, Templeton, Hodby (Tee 61), Fielding, Gill, Brown (Brown 72), Webber, Leshabela.
Unused subs: Jones, Bollard.
Reading U18: Collings, Howe, Green, Odimayo, Medford-Smith, Rollinson, Shokunbi, Coleman (Denton 75), Holsgrove (Buchanan 75), House, Loader.
Unused subs: Hillson, Wilson, Philby.