Youngsters lose out in ManchesterThe Royals’ Under-18 side were on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline away at Manchester City on Wednesday afternoon.
A well-contested game possibly saw the Royals have the better of the play for the majority of the match… but a few moments of brilliance by the hosts were enough to give the Citizens all three points in the Merit League meeting.
The game kicked off at 11am on Wednesday morning, having been rearranged due to Man City’s involvement in the FA Youth Cup final, and they needed just six minutes to take the lead through Lorenzo Gonzalez.
Jack Nolan levelled with a well-directed strike midway through the half, but Taylor Richards’ excellent effort had the hosts back in front again before the break. Rabbi Matondo made it three shortly after the hour mark but Jazz Wallace pulled the Royals back within a goal with quarter of an hour to go.
But another stunner from Richards was City’s fourth and condemned the Royals to back-to-back defeats to the Manchester clubs.
Under-18 manager David Dodds said: “It’s really good to finish with these games against Man City, Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea – they’re the top teams in the country. Even though they didn’t have their strongest squads out, it was always going to be a test.
“I thought personally that we played better from box to box than they did. We were very fluent playing out from the back. But the difference was in the final third. They had players who were very inventive and quick… and they scored three ‘goal of the season’ contenders!
“We hit two good ones as well – we were 1-0 down and Jack Nolan hit a great right-footed shot which bent into the top corner… we were ready to go into the dressing room at half-time all square. But one of their lads cut in from their left and hit an absolute stunner into the top corner – unbelievable.
“We struggled to get into the second half early on, but we got going after 15 or 20 minutes. We were playing through them quite well but they got another one to go 3-1 up – that was disappointing because it was against the run of play. But it was a decent goal from their point of view.
“Then we had another really good spell and we were constantly getting into their final third – lads like Jordan Holsgrove and Tom Holmes were looking very, very good after joining us again after playing for the Under-23s.
“We got a nice one back when Joel Rollinson got to the byline and pulled it back to pick Jazz Wallace out, and he finished it really well.
“We were a tad wasteful in possession late in the game when we were trying to get back into it, but then one of their lads picked the ball up, did a little jink outside the box and hit a screamer into the top corner from 25 yards out – you just have to applaud it and say ‘great goal’! You could argue the defenders could do a bit better, but it was real quality that you don’t often come up against.
“So at the end of the game, we can reflect and say that we achieved a lot in two thirds of the pitch and played through well and generally the defending was okay. But they had a special ingredient which scores goals. Even if the run of play is against them, they still have that in their locker.
“It’s a disappointing outcome, but we’re relatively pleased with the performance levels.”
Full-time: Manchester City U18 4-2 Reading U18
Manchester City U18: Sokol, Bolton, Francis, Wilson (Latibeaudiere 63), Ogbeta, Matondo, Iker Pozo (Nmecha 67), Smith, Richards, Garre, Gonzalez (Duncan 70).
Unused subs: Scott, Coveney.
Reading U18: Driscoll, Howe, Medford-Smith, Holmes, Odimayo (Philby HT), Coleman, Shokunbi (Wallace 55), Holsgrove, Nolan, Rollinson, House.
Unused subs: Wilson, Green, Sparta.