Academy Manager praises performance levels of young sideOur Under-23s progressed past Newcastle to take a place in the Premier League Cup semi-final earlier this week – it’s hard to overstate the achievement of such a young batch of players.
A Royals side which compromised almost entirely of teenagers – the exception being 20-year-old Andrija Novakovich, whose penalty was the only goal of the afternoon – turned in an eye-catching performance on Tyneside, and as such have booked a home meeting with Norwich in the final four.
Lee Herron, our Academy Manager, praised the showing of the Reading representatives – the Royals were inaugural winners of the competition in 2014, and are now just one step away from reaching the final again.
“It was a massive challenge to go up to play such a fantastic club as Newcastle, and also to go up there with a very young side,” Herron said. “There were three 17-year-olds playing for us that afternoon. So we’re delighted to come away with the win, which takes us into the semi-final of a national competition, and more pleasingly the performance level was very high.
“In the first half there particularly there was some fantastic play – we kept the ball very well and we played through the thirds and created opportunities to score. We probably should have gone ahead in the first half, and that makes it a bit more difficult going into the second half when you haven’t taken those chances.
“But we earned a penalty in the second half and managed to get ahead. We created opportunities and could have scored more, but we also had to do the other side of the game as well in relation to digging in and making sure we didn’t concede.
“All in all we are very happy with the win, and also with how the boys played. We controlled the game by controlling the ball.
“In the last 10 minutes it was very hustle and bustle – the played had to make sure they were in the right positions and making the right tackles, and that they tracked the runners… you have to do all that to the minute details, or they’ll get back in the game.
“It gets a bit unorthodox because they end up playing with five up front, and it’s do or die – and our boys had to deal with that, and manage the game appropriately and see it through. They did that.
“It gives them another opportunity to have another experience, on and off the pitch. That will only help them in their life – we’re in the semi-final now so we’ll see how they cope with that. So we have a chance, if we’re good enough, to get into a final.”
Match details for our semi-final are yet to be confirmed. The fixture is scheduled to take place over the weekend of Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May.
Watch action from the quarter-final win over Newcastle below...