Scott Marshall was full of praise for his Under-23 side, after coming from a goal down with ten men to make it through to the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup Final.
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The young Royals were left a man down after 15 minutes, with goalkeeper Myles Roberts shown the red card for a late foul on the edge of the box.
Mike Fondop put Maidenhead United ahead on the night just before half time, but Teddy Howe equalised for the Royals eight minutes from time to set up a penalty shootout - which our U23s duly won 4-3 at York Road.
"It was a great experience, a really tough night for the boys," Marshall said after the game. "Going down to ten men was one of those unfortunate things, Myles was really looking forward to the game so it was a bit of a disappointment for him.
"The group were disappointed with the performance in the last game against Newcastle, they were keen to respond and show a bit of character - it was a great game to show that tonight, the game was always going to be about that.
"Playing against men, competitive stuff, they had to really work hard all night and hang in there. Scoring as late as that when you're down to ten men shows how well they've been training, working hard, the fitness levels were really good and really pleasing.
"In some of the tactical stuff they had to learn a lot, play a different style at times, manage the game and that was great too, and the little crowd at the end for the penalties was fantastic.
"We're delighted with the competition and the games that it's thrown up for the boys, and another good experience for them.
"It was a cup night at a good non-league club who are going really well, the National League is a really competitive league and they get it week in, week out so it was a good night and a good challenge for them.
"At this stage, you want to be challenging. You saw the way the boys celebrated at the end - this is what it's all about. They want to play, they want to do well and there's no harm with picking up a bit of silverware along the way. We want to breed winners.
"We say a lot about character, the talent will take you so far but it's going to be that character, personality and spirit, as well as the talent, that's going to result in a performance at the end of things.
"That'll probably be the defining outcome in their careers, they have to learn to respond to nights like this, show a bit of character and it's another experience that they've done well in."
The Final is set to take place at the start of May, with either Marlow or Slough Town standing in the way of the young Royals and the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup trophy. Further details of that game will be announced in due course.
But our Under-23s have another Semi-Final to look forward to, this time in the Premier League International Cup - with European giants, Bayern Munich coming to Madejski Stadium on the evening of Monday 1st April.
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