Youngsters put seven past Swans in South WalesA 7-0 demolition job of Swansea City in South Wales has ensured that Reading’s Under-18s will finish in the top four of the U18 Premier League (South) this season – and as such will face the best four sides from the northern section in the Group 1 pool, which begins in March.
They will be joined in the eight-team league by Chelsea – who sealed the title for the southern section this weekend – and most probably Arsenal and West Ham, barring any unlikely swing in the last two fixtures. Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Blackburn will be the representatives from the north, with all four clubs now beyond the reach of fifth-placed Everton with two games to go.
The degree of the result in South Wales was rather tough on the hosts, who had been very much in the game until the floodgates opened in the second period.
A quick start to the game saw the Royals two to the good within the first three minutes, thanks to goals by triallist winger Michael Fernandes and midfielder Joel Rollinson. But it remained that way until the break, as the hosts began to get a foothold back in the game.
Just before the hour, the momentum could easily have shifted Swansea’s way when they were awarded a penalty – but Liam Driscoll’s spot-kick save to deny Thomas Price kept the sheets clean, and immediately the Royals broke down the other end and increased the margin to three through Ben House.
The game was effectively sealed when Fernandes struck twice more within a seven-minute period to wrap up a hat-trick, while Rollinson and House each notched another in the closing stages to seal the win.
Under-18 manager David Dodds said: “We started the game off really quickly and went two goals up early. We predominantly had control of the game for the first 25 minutes or so, but then for a spell before half-time they were able to control the game with the ball.
“We talked a bit about that at half-time, and even though we managed to get a hold of the ball, they had a penalty and it could have all changed there. But Liam Driscoll made a great save and we went straight down the other end and made it three.
“That was a real double-whammy for them – they could have been back to 2-1 if it wasn’t for a great save by our goalkeeper, and then they found themselves three behind seconds later. Often games hinge on those sorts of turning points.
“And then we took control of the game and made it count with some good goals. We also got some game-time for some of the first-year scholars who haven’t played a lot, which is good news as well as it was a chance for more experience for them.
“To be honest the game wasn’t as one-sided the scoreline suggests; they were in the game and that penalty save was a real key moment of the game, as for us to save it and then score so quickly afterwards creates a huge swing of momentum and allowed us to take control.
“It’s nice to know we’ll be in the top four, so we can pit our wits against the cream of the crop. We’ll have some overnight trips up north which will be a new experience, and they’ll play against some of the best players in the country, if not the best in Europe.”
Full-time: Swansea City U18 0-7 Reading U18
Swansea City U18: Lang, Cooper, Cabango (Blake 30), Erickson, Fox (Davies 62), R.Williams, Berry, Hazell, Price (D.Williams 66), Cooper, Roberts.
Unused subs: Treacy, Wynter-Coles.
Reading U18: Driscoll, Wilson, Medford-Smith (Green 70), Odimayo, Philby, Holmes, Coleman (Buchanan 79), Rollinson, Fernandes, Wallace (Denton 79), House.
U18 subs: Sparta, Nolan.