The Royals’ Under-18 squad returned to action with a 1-1 draw away at Norwich City on Saturday.
Like the senior team, the Academy youngsters had had a fortnight off from competitive action before their trip to Norfolk.
And they went ahead shortly before the interval through Ethan Coleman, whose fourth goal of the campaign to date – a crisp strike on a loose ball – opened the scoring on the afternoon.
But the hosts took a point from the game as Jaden Thompson-Blissett’s free-kick found its way into the Royals’ net.
Under-18 manager David Dodds said: “Both teams had spells at the start of the game, but I thought we took the game over and controlled the game by having more possession than they had. We got into some really good areas down by the byline, and we had two one-on-ones with their goalkeeper. Kosta Sparta hit the post and the other time we couldn’t quite get the shot away quick enough.
“We had some really good situations and they should have put us a goal or more up. Although they had a chance at the other end where their centre-forward missed the target.
“Then a cross from the right by Shamar Moore was half-cleared by them, and Ethan Coleman arrived to take a really controlled strike from the edge of the box to go 1-0 up, so we were ahead at half-time.
“In the second half they came out with a reaction and we dropped off a little bit, which gave them more control. On the day we gave away a few silly free-kicks away around the box and in dangerous areas, where they were probably avoidable, and they scored from one of those situations – a soft one where the free-kick goes all the way through and ends up inside the far post.
“But credit to the lads – Norwich had a lift from that but we took control again for the last period of the game and again created some great situations which we couldn’t convert. We had a volley at the back post, players getting unopposed to the byline where we couldn’t quite pick the right pass.
“It was a pleasing performance, I thought – Norwich always give us a good game but we controlled more of it over the 90 minutes and certainly deserved a result.
“Overall, we’re starting to get used to each other and little groups are forming all over the pitch and we’re getting some good combinations going. We’re still very young because so many of our players, including Andre Burley recently, have moved up to the Under-23 group. And the question now is who will be next to move up to the next level.”
Full-time: Norwich City U18 1-1 Reading U18
Norwich City U18: McCracken, O'Donnell, Ekumah, Lomas, Barkarson, Payne, Thorvaldsson, Parsons, Spyrou, Thompson-Brissett, Fleming (Barnes 61).
Unused subs: Hale-Brown, Mehmeti, Tanimowo, Omotoye.
Reading U18: Desbois, Balogun, Dorsett, Odimayo, Philby (Wilson 75), Buchanan, Pendlebury, Nolan, Coleman, Sparta (Nevers HT), Moore.
Unused subs: Hansen, Stevens, Elva-Fountaine.