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Report | U18s strike three to advance to Round Four

Nevers, Nolan and Olise power Royals through in FA Youth Cup

11 December 2018

Three stunning strikes from the Royals' Under-18s sent them through to the Fourth Round of this season's FA Youth Cup, overcoming Cambridge United in a 3-1 victory on Tuesday night.

A brilliant curling effort from Thierry Nevers in the first half, was added to with a powerful drive from Jack Nolan and a perfectly-placed free-kick from Michael Olise to send Reading through in the competition.

As is traditional with the FA Youth Cup, the Royals who had spent playing time with the Under-23s returned to their age group for the biggest competition that Academy football has to offer.

No fewer than eight members of the squad have had experience of Under-23 football so far this season, but the U's lay in wait on a bitterly cold evening at Abbey Stadium for the team, led by Ryan Williams and Mikele Leigertwood.

It was a frantic start at the Abbey and the hosts were on the front foot in the early exchanges. A succession of early chances for the U's saw Joe Neal blaze over on a rebound from a corner, before Jokull Andresson brilliantly denied Ben Worman with a point-blank block.

After a period of back-and-forth between the teams, the deadlock was broken in spectacular style. Khalid Simmo broke at pace in midfield and put the Royals into an attacking position, before squaring to Thierry Nevers - who bent the ball brilliantly across goal and into the top corner.

Cambridge were looking for a way back in as quickly as possible, putting in a series of bolshy challenges in midfield as they tried to battle their way back level. The hosts had more of the play throughout, but it was Reading who held firm with the lead after Nevers' strike.

There was a lengthy stoppage as both Conor Lawless and Cambridge's Blake D'Arcy went full-blooded into a tackle in midfield. The pair both slid for a loose ball, with the Royals man coming off worse. He was seen to on the pitch, and three minutes later had to be stretchered off with what looked a nasty impact injury.

Tough challenges and physical battles typified the first half in Cambridge, with tackles going in from both sets of players - with seven added minutes played at the end of the first period.

It was with the final action of the half that the hosts had their equaliser. A free-kick from midfield was swung into the area and centre-back Tom Dickens rose highest to powerfully head back across goal, beating Andresson and levelling matters just before the referee's whistle.

Half-time | Cambridge Utd U18 1-1 Reading U18

The U's picked up where they left off at the end of the first half, taking the initiative and stretching the Royals whenever they could. Andresson made a succession of saves from Cambridge corners, keeping the score at one apiece.

Reading grew into the game again and forced a good chance of their own when Jack Nolan instinctively struck on the edge of the area. His cross-goal effort went narrowly wide of the post as the Royals found a foothold at the Abbey.

And it was Nolan who acted on his instinct to put Reading ahead once more midway through the second half. Nolan got forward and played into Shamar Moore on the edge of the box. Moore was tackled and it broke for Nolan to strike - wrong-footing the goalkeeper and sending it into the bottom corner.

Nevers was denied a second soon after, with a fantastic piece of goalkeeping from Louis Chadwick. Nevers found space in the area, shot across the keeper but Chadwick reacted with excellent reflexes to parry and keep the hosts in the game.

It wasn't long before Reading had a third goal denied by the woodwork. Michael Olise breezed through midfield and was able to pick out Tetek with a splitting ball. He beat the goalkeeper but his effort ricocheted off the post, with Nevers seeing his rebound cleared.

Andresson was on hand to pull off an outstanding save at the other end. The U's put in a dangerous long free-kick - Charlie Johnson got a powerful head on it but the Reading goalkeeper tipped over the bar and kept the Royals' lead.

That save could have proved pivotal in the outcome of the match, as shortly after, Reading had their third.

Nevers was brought down just outside the area, and Olise made no mistake from the free-kick - keeping it low, powering through the wall and into the bottom corner to secure the Royals' passage into Round Four.

An away trip to either Aston Villa or Swansea City awaits the young Royals in the Fourth Round!


Full-time | Cambridge Utd U18 1-3 Reading U18

Cambridge Utd U18: Chadwick, Jeche, Battersby, Simper, Johnson, Dickens, Bennett, Miller (Steel 75), Neal, Worman, D'Arcy (Dearman 87).
Unused subs: Foxall, Goode, Toyer.
Goals: Dickens 45+7

Reading U18: J Andresson, Pemberton, Elva-Fountaine, Hewitt, Pendlebury (Nditi 53), Lawless (Tetek 32), Nolan, Simmo, Olise, Nevers, Moore.
Unused subs: Roberts, Melvin-Lambert, Osorio.
Goals: Nevers 15, Nolan 63, Olise 84

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