Youngsters complete first batch of fixtures
Our U18s completed their U18 Premier League (South) fixtures with a 1-1 home draw against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, ensuring a third-placed finished in the regional table.
Now the youngsters have a break from competitive action before the Elite League begins on 11th March, which will see the top four sides from the North and South divisions going up against each other in a round robin for their final seven games.
The Royals trailed to a first-half effort by Luis Garcia, but within five minutes of the restart Ben House netted his 13th goal of the campaign to earn Reading a point and securing third spot in the league, behind just Chelsea and Arsenal.
U18 manager David Dodds said: “James Hillson made his starting debut in goal as Liam Driscoll had been promoted to the Under-23s and was going to start against Stoke before that match was unfortunately called off. Jordan Holsgrove, Tyler Frost and Tom Holmes were all due to be involved in that match as well.
“We started the game playing into a strong wind, and we began quite well playing through the thirds against that breeze. We got the ball under control into their third. But then we struggled a bit to break them down.
“They scored first from a set-piece which was whipped in and then fired across the bodies in the six-yard box and into the far corner. We had a couple of good situations – Ben House was threaded in by a really nice ball by Harry Philby, and their defender gave him a tug back but didn’t give a penalty.
“The performance levels were really decent in the first half, but in the final third it was probably a bit of guile and invention that was lacking to break through.
“We started the second half really quickly and got that equaliser early on. Then we took the foot off the accelerator a bit which can be the case when you’re relieved to score. We needed to keep going at the tempo which we started the half at.
“In the end we probably didn’t play as well with the wind behind us as we had in the first half. We certainly didn’t get enough shots off or crosses in. So it was probably a fair result on the balance of play.”
Full-time: Reading U18 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion U18
Reading U18: Hillson, Wilson, Medford-Smith (Green 83), Odimayo, Philby, Coleman, Shokunbi (Sparta 74), Rollinson (Wallace 83), Nolan, Loader, House.
Unused subs: Buchanan, Burley.
Brighton & Hove Albion U18: McGill, Moore, Cochrane, Barker, O’Sullivan, Davies, Mandriou (Fornah HT), Garcia, Ajiboye, Hutchinson, Cashman (Ljubicic 26).
Unused subs: Rees, Ferguson, Rolph.