Stacey, Taylor, Sweeney and Cooper all heading to Wembley!
In case you hadn’t heard, we’re heading to Wembley in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final!
But it’s not just our current first-team squad…
And a number of our Academy graduates are doing the same thing in League 1 and League 2 equivalents in the coming weeks, with the opportunity to add a promotion to their CV.
There’ll be three representatives in the red and white stripes of Exeter City – and that’s thanks in no small part to an outstanding goal by Jack Stacey on a night of high drama at St James Park.
The Grecians, who had lost 3-2 on each of their league meetings with Carlisle during the regular season, drew their first leg 3-3 in Cumbria. In the return leg, they were 5-3 up on aggregate thanks to an Ollie Watkins brace but conspired to concede twice in the last ten minutes, threatening to take the game to extra time.
But then up stepped Jack Stacey. The Royals loanee, who took up the right-back berth in place of former Royals Academy man Pierce Sweeney, was fed outside the area by another of his former Hogwood colleagues in the form of Jake Taylor – and then rifled into the net for a 95th-minute winner with pretty much the last kick of an incredible tie!
While those three will be Royal representatives in the League 2 final at Wembley on Sunday 28th May, there was heartbreak on the other side of the tie. That two-legged affair also ended 6-5 on aggregate, but Stuart Moore and Lawson D’Ath were on the losing side with Luton as Blackpool progressed with a stoppage-time winner of their own.
But before all else, Millwall and Bradford City meet in the League 1 play-off final on Saturday 20th May as they each look to stake a claim in the Championship. And centre-half Jake Cooper will be hoping to help the Lions back up to English football’s second tier.
The centre-half has been unused so far in the play-offs as the East London club defeated Scunthorpe over two legs, but he played an important role in seeing out a 4-3 win at Bristol Rover on the season’s final day – alongside another former Royal in Shaun Cummings.
And if Jake is called upon for his 19th appearance for Millwall since making the loan switch back in January, let’s hope it’s a memorable occasion for all the right reasons.
Best of luck to all involved.
And, of course, our Academy system is still well-represented in the play-offs here at Reading!
It was Jordan Obita who fired in our goal in the first leg away to Fulham, and Liam Kelly overcame illness to help see out the win in the second leg and book our spot against Huddersfield in the final.
Tickets are on sale now for our play-off final – click here for full information!