Youngsters lose out from trip to face the GunnersThe Royals’ Under-18 squad were on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline at Shenley Training Centre on Saturday, as a relatively experienced visiting Arsenal side took three points in the U18 Premier League South.
The hosts went ahead through a piece of ruthless play which was finished off by Edward Nketiah – but the Royals were level at the break when Ben House finished neatly.
However Ade Shokunbi’s dismissal midway through the second half – deemed to have committed violent conduct – meant that the Royals had to play the final 25 minutes a man light.
And the Gunners capitalised with late goals by Donyell Malen and Trae Coyle, to ensure they left victorious. Despite the result, Reading still sit second in the table with just four games remaining.
Under-18 manager David Dodds said: “I’m a little bit disappointed with the outcome – we played very well in the first half, and for an hour we matched Arsenal.
“They had their full-strength Youth Cup team out – normally a few of those players would be in their Under-23 squad but their U23s game was called off, so they put out their full-strength squad. By contrast we had quite a young team.
“But we still played the ball around well. We went a goal down as we tried to play the ball out from the back and made a little error, but we equalised by picking up the pieces from a set-piece as Ben House took a really good strike.
“They started a little bit quicker in the second half, but we had a player sent off with about 25 minutes to go. Ade was chopped down on the counter attack – and when he bent down to get the ball, his opponent stopped him taking the kick and he put his head in his chest, and the guy went down like he’d been shot. The referee sent him off but didn’t take any action against the other lad for stopping the counter attack.
“We also had a penalty decision turned down; we spoke to the referee after and he agreed that it was a penalty but he should have had help from the linesman.
“So all in all we were beaten 3-1 – it was a bit too much to handle in the last 20 minutes. But it was a promising performance from the lads who got their chance. I’m reasonably pleased with the performance levels considering we were facing such an experienced team. And now it’s on to Chelsea next week.”
Full-time: Arsenal U18 3-1 Reading U18
Arsenal U18: Joao Virginia, Osei-Tutu, Bola, Olowu, Pileas, McGuane (Gilmour 19), Dasilva, Fortune (Willock 81), Malen, Dragomir (Coyle 55), Nketiah.
Unused subs: Crean, Medley.
Reading U18: Driscoll, Wilson (Nolan 90), Balogun, Philby, Odimayo, Coleman (Denton 83), Shokunbi, Rollinson, Green (Holmes 78), Holsgrove, House.
Unused subs: Hillson, Sparta.