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Dodds praises young stars' spirit in dramatic FA Youth Cup win

Our young lads 'stuck to the philosophy' but 'rolled their sleeves up' to battle through an eventful FA Youth Cup clash at Charlton...

18 January 2018

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When the Royals are in FA Youth Cup action, more often than not there is high drama. And the drama has probably never been higher than our Fourth Round win away to Charlton on Tuesday night

"We controlled the game possesison-wise, created good opportunities but we couldn't take them early on and Charlton scored from our set piece which was disappointing," U18s boss David Dodds said.

"We played some really controlled football in the 20 minutes before half-time and before the break young Jordan Holsgrove produced a little bit of magic down by the byline, wrongfooting the keeper to equalise. That changed the team talk a ltitle bit!

"Although we had a lot of the ball, their set pieces were top drawer and they scored from a corner to go 2-1 up and we were on the back foot when they scored the third - another ball put into our box we couldn't deal with. That was a body blow.

"We had a mountain to climb with 20 minutes to go and 3-1 down, but the lads believed in what they were doing, kept to their principles and a great delivery from Holsgrove allowed Ayo to pull one back with a great header. 

"And right at the end of normal time, a goalmouth melee saw Holsgrove equalise with the last kick of the ninety minutes!"

The drama didn't end there.

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"One of their players got sent off...the referee was quite strict in what was a passionate FA Youth Cup tie - and then Danny Loader put us in front with a great finish.

"But they went for it with a man down in the second period of extra time and although we had three of four really good opportunities to put the tie to bed, we didn't take them.

"We had a couple of late, late red cards and they hit the bar from a header right at the end. So it went right to the wire - a real nip and tuck cup tie." 

The Royals held on though and Dodds was delighted with the spirit shown by such young footballers were learned a lot from the rough and tumble of cup football this week.

"We've got a clear philosophy of how we play football at the club and we have had for some years now. And we have stuck to that philosophy.

"In the second half we got the ball into their final third a little bit quicker than we usually do and that created some little situations whereby we could play football to unlock them.

"The lads kept the balance between keeping the principles of how we play our football and rolling their sleeves up to battle and do what it took to win the tie. The spirit was certainly there for all to see!"

David Dodds

"But the lads kept the balance between keeping the principles of how we play our football and rolling their sleeves up to battle and do what it took to win the tie.

"The spirit was certainly there for all to see, that's a given being a Reading Football Club player. And that saw us through."

Reading's youngsters now face a trip to Colchester United in the Fifth Round of the competition - with a place in the quarter-finals at stake. 

"I never ever look at the next round before we know we're in it," Dodds admitted. "I didn't even want to see their tie, see any footgae from their games, or even talk about it - and I try to impose that on the players too, asking them not to think about anything other than the one tough game that is in front of them.

"But we're through now so now we can look at what's going to happen next.

"There are only eight Category One Academies left in the competition at the minute - and that tells you a lot about the quality across the rest of the country.

"So whatever team you're drawn against you know it's going to be a tough game. And this one against Colchester will be no exception!"

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