Reading’s Under-23s overcame an early setback in their Premier League Cup group fixture against Colchester United to ultimately win 5-1 in Woking.
The win means that the Royals have a perfect record of four wins from four games – qualification from Group G to the knock-out stage is not quite a certainty yet, but highly probable with two games left to go for all teams.
The Royals went into the game with wins against Birmingham City, Fulham and Colchester under their belts already, while the U’s had lost all of their games. Yet it was the visitors who struck first in Woking as a pass was picked off upfield.
But after several good opportunities, Reading eventually got level when Jack Nolan, who had played for the Under-18s in the FA Youth Cup earlier in the week, followed in with a headed equaliser after Joel Rollinson’s effort had been palmed away by the goalkeeper.
Parity remained until the interval, but Scott Marshall’s charges ran away with the game in the second period. Josh Barrett was the one to round off a fine team move, picking up in the centre-circle and linking with Ryan East and Adam Liddle, before putting the Royals ahead for the first time just before the hour-mark with a fierce hit which flew in via the post.
Adam Liddle added a brace with two well-taken goals to extend the margin. The goals were near-identical in fashion – Barrett got to the left byline and cut back for the forward to tap in inside the six-yard box.
Barrett sealed the victory two minutes before the end, receiving from Cameron Green and tucking inside the goalkeeper’s near post.
12 points from four games is not quite enough to say that passage is secure just yet; our next two opponents Birmingham and Fulham could potentially finish on the same points-total, in which case goal-difference would be the deciding factor.
But our youngsters have put themselves in pole position; if they can avoid defeat away to the Blues on Friday 8th February or in Fulham on Friday 22nd February, knockout football is guaranteed.
Full-time: Reading U23 5-1 Colchester United U23
Reading U23: Boyce-Clarke, Balogun, Green, Osho, Odimayo, East, Shokunbi, Rollinson, Nolan, Barrett, Liddle.
Subs: Roberts, Burley, Pendlebury, Lawless.