An inexperienced Reading Under-18 side were defeated 2-0 on their opening encounter of 2018 by visiting Chelsea at Hogwood on Saturday.
After being denied a strong penalty shout in the early stages, the Royals went behind to a Marcel Lavinier goal shortly before the half-time whistle sounded.
And it was a Blues spot-kick that sealed the deal, which Conor Gallagher netted in the final 20 minutes of the match.
A good display from a particularly youthful U18s squad, but unfortunately not the result they sought.
Under-18 manager David Dodds said: “It’s always a good tester to play against the likes of Chelsea, especially after the Christmas break.
“On the morning of the game, unfortunately one of the Under-23s was sick and that meant Akinwale Odimayo had to be withdrawn from our squad to go with them – that’s great for him, but it just meant we had a bit of an experienced team. It was predominantly first-year scholars and Under-16s, which was always going to be tough against Chelsea!
“But they conducted themselves and competed very well. For the first hour or 70 minutes, we restricted them to a couple of chances, while we had a good break where Thierry Nevers brought a good save from their goalkeeper, as well as a couple of half-chances from set-pieces.
“In the first few minutes we had a really good penalty appeal turned down – that could have affected the outcome and the performance. Joe Wilson went through and was wiped out – that proved a bit annoying in the second half when there was a similar situation at the other end but the linesman gave a penalty against us – it just adds a bit of insult to injury.
“Our young team were a bit fatigued in the last 20 or so minutes and they had a few more chances, meaning Adam Desbois had to make a few good saves. But until that point there wasn’t an awful lot in it.
“It’s good for so many young lads to be involved – it gives them that extra bit of exposure and acts as a learning experience for them, teaching them what kind of levels are required. They’ll go back to training, work hard, and try to get as close to that level as they can.
“Under the circumstances, I thought they competed really well."
Full-time: Reading U18 0-2 Chelsea U18
Reading U18: Desbois, Wilson, Elva-Fountaine, Nditi, Balogun, Buchanan, Pendlebury, Simmo, Nevers (Obamakinwa 64), Lawrence, Stevens (Wallace HT).
Unused subs: Hillson, Hansen, Pemberton.
Chelsea U18: Ziger, Lamptey, Panzo, Guehi, Lavinier, Gallagher, Gilmour (Brown 63), Familio-Castillo, Anjorin (Mola 83), Uwakwe, Redan (McEachran 63).
Unused subs: Lewis, Semeu.