Liam Kelly’s rise to prominence in the first team during the last 12 months has given our Academy more reasons to be proud.
And the midfielder, whose two goals against Gillingham sent us through to the second round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening, was delighted to be playing alongside so many of his young cohorts from the youth system at Reading.
It was in this competition that Kelly made his senior debut last season, against MK Dons – this year another three got their first appearances for the Royals against Gillingham.
To win it with so many of the Academy boys that I’ve played with growing up, and to play with them in a first-team game, was a good feeling.
A total of 10 players from our Academy were involved in the matchday squad – and Kelly hopes that they can follow in his footsteps.
“Before the game, we knew that it would be tough against an experienced League 1 team,” Kelly explained after the game.
“So to win it with so many of the Academy boys that I’ve played with growing up, and to play with them in a first-team game, was a good feeling.
“All of them did well. Throughout pre-season training and the games, the gaffer has seen what they do and to give them game-time shows he trusts them and hopefully there will be more minutes to come for them.
“I made my debut in this competition last year – a few of the lads have done that this year. Last year we had a good run and ended up playing Arsenal at the Emirates… if we can get a similar run to last year, it would be very pleasing!”
The game was deadlocked until the 71st minute, before Kelly whipped a delighted shot up and over goalkeeper Tomas Holy to open the scoring.
And then, with less than five minutes remaining, home debutant Modou Barrow slotted in Kelly to lash home a game-sealing second.
“Overall, it was a good night for everyone,” Kelly said. “It’s always nice when you can score goals – I don’t do it often, but to get two was nice and the win was even better!
“It’s nice to get goals early in the season to kick-start not only my season, but the team’s. The result on Saturday wasn’t good, so to get the win tonight to kick us on ready for Saturday and the upcoming season was nice.
“Saturday was hard to take – not only the result, but the way we played. Everyone was disappointed because we know how good we can be. Tonight showed that – it wasn’t our best, but it was getting towards there.”
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