Reading Women’s Under-16s were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City at St George’s Park in the Girls FA Youth Cup Final on Saturday afternoon, falling at the final hurdle of an historic cup run for the Royals.
After an incredible cup run; beating Charlton, Arsenal, Chelsea, Southampton and Manchester United, the young Royals made history by becoming our first female side to reach an FA Youth Cup Final.
Our Under-16s had already achieved something special - coming from behind at Bisham Abbey to beat the might of Manchester United 2-1 in the semi-final to become the first Reading side to reach the Girls FA Youth Cup final in the process!
After knocking out Charlton Athletic, Arsenal, Chelsea and Southampton, all away from home, Reading were beat United in the last four and, for the first time ever, one of our female teams progressed to the final of an FA Cup competition and a meeting with Manchester City at the weekend.
And Reading started very brightly; England internationals Emma Harries and Sophie Quirk linked up to help the ball on to Olivia Gaffney, whose brilliant header was directed across goal and into the far corner in the 22nd minute. 1-0!
A number of chances then fell to the Royals to double their lead, but we were unable to further capitalise on our first half dominance and City responded just before the break before taking the lead soon after the restart to turn the final on its head.
In the dying stages of the game Reading piled the pressure on the City goal, coming close on several occasions – however, throwing all our bodies forward, City were able to counter attack and score a third to kill the game.
Reading FC Women’s first team manager, Kelly Chambers, was full of praise for our finalists, saying “We’re immensely proud of our Under-16s for how well they have done this season, even though today was not their day.
"They need to put the disappointment of the day behind them and hold their heads up high after a fantastic cup run. There are a lot of talented players in that group who we will look after and ensure they keep improving and continue working towards playing in our first team.”
The FA Youth Cup is the flagship competition in the female youth fixture programme and began with all 34 RTC’s Under-16s sides nationwide last September. So for the Royals to make it to the Final is quite some achievement! Congratulations to everyone involved in a memorable FA Youth Cup run.