Skip to main content

Youth Sides

The last few years have seen the academy come into prominence. With numerous first team players coming through the ranks of The Royals. The last couple of seasons, however, have focused not just on the players coming through but also the academy teams themselves, and the past two weeks have been a culmination of a huge collective effort.

First off the U21s went to Liverpool, and won 2-1. With a beautiful goal from sub, Harry Cardwell, and a slightly scrappier one from ‘Michael Hector’ – which possibly should have gone to Niall Keown. Liverpool had a chance to get revenge in the FA Youth Cup when their U18s visited in the quarter-finals. What transpired over the course of the next 120 minutes was one of the greatest games to ever grace the pitch at the Madejski. Leading 2-0 just a few minutes into the second half it looked as if Reading were cruising – with Liverpool not really creating any guilt-edged chances, but somehow a late rally saw them take the game into extra-time at 2-2. Skip forward to half-time extra-time and Liverpool find themselves 4-2 up. Three-minutes of the match remain and this time it’s Reading’s turn to fight back. First a goal from Taylor-Crossdale, then a goal from McLennan somehow get Reading to penalties, where there are 9 terrific, top-draw strikes, but Liverpool’s Brannagan – judging by how approached the penalty, the most confident player on the pitch – sees his penalty miss to Ward's right. A history making team. We now have Fulham in the semi-finals, who are widely regarded as the best team at this level so it may be a step too far, but they've already progressed further than any other Reading team which is something to be proud of.

Then the U21s have the chance to make the Premier League Cup’s final, but had to overcome Arsenal away in extra time. Arsenal struck first with a penalty after a foul by Jake Cooper, but Craig Tanner scored before half-time to level. With a goalless second half the game once again went into extra-time, but this time it was The Royals who struck twice; Tanner added another, before YouTube sensation, Liam Kelly, sealed the win.
I’m seriously excited by our youth sides, and with good reason. They’ve shown themselves as perfectly able to keep up with the big boys, and that can only be good for graduates coming through to the first team. This season alone we’ve seen seven players who came through our academy:
  • Sean Morrison
  • Alex Pearce
  • Alex McCarthy
  • Jem Karacan
  • Jordan Obita
  • Jake Taylor
  • Michael Hector
  • Hal Robson-Kanu
Plus Aaron Tshibola, Niall Keown, and Pierce Sweeney appear on the bench. Morrison and Pearce are our top two players according to WhoScored, even if the former has been out injured since November. Then we have Cox, Church, and The Almighty Gylfi Sigurdsson at other clubs.

If you factor in the fact that they’re pushing the women’s team on social media as well and Reading is quickly becoming a club in more than name. It also shows how television propels things up the priorities ladder; would we be seeing such a push if we weren’t part of the WSL, even if we are part of the lower division? I really hope people get behind the women’s team, as it’s excellent to see development in the women’s game, and it gives football all through the year – if nothing else. Definitely well worth a trip down to Farnborough – or the Madejski for the opening day against Yeovil on 16th April.


Popular posts from this blog

Bowen's Brand New Box

The first game of pre-season is done, and wasn't it an interesting one? Mark Bowen previewed a brand new 3-6-1, with more central midfielders than anybody could have dreamt of.  As theorized  we played a back-three and wing-backs. The midfield, however, had that unexpected additional body, meaning that Joao played as a lone striker. The 3-6-1. Swift and Laurent are allowed to go forward but are usually content with being behind the play. Consistency is a much sought after commodity in football, so I suppose it can be classed as a positive that there's only a single new recruit in the squad. Laurent's role as one of the deeper midfielders was slightly surprising, because everything from his stint at Shrewsbury implied that he's a similar, but more offensive player than Rinomhota. Swift takes the majority of the ball, so he's not expected to be the main playmaker, but he was comfortable in possession and picks the right pass when needed. Plus his pressing, and positio

A Potted History of Veljko Paunović

Veljko Paunović is Reading manager. The Serbian is a relative unknown here, but after leading his home nation to the U20 World Cup he put his name on the proverbial map. That lead to taking over at MLS side Chicago Fire in 2015, where he stayed for four years before being fired with one of the worst ever MLS records. For the past year, he's been unemployed. Serbia's victory at the U20 World Cup in New Zealand was a surprise. 2015 remains the only tournament that Serbia has qualified for since the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The tournament opened with a loss to Uruguay, a game in which they played a 3-6-1. For the subsequent group games they switched to a 4-2-3-1 or alternated to a 4-1-4-1; both Mali and Mexico were dispatched 2-0. They kept the same set-up for the knock-out phase, but were never as convincing, needing extra time in every round. An injury-time equaliser against Hungary combined with an own goal in the round of 16, penalties were required to see off The USA in the

Replacing Omar Richards

In the summer team report I wrote: "we  really  don't want to be going into 2021/2022 without any LBs so a new contract for Omar has to be on the agenda early". And yet, that seems to be exactly what's happening with Richards set to depart for pastures new. Whether he goes to Bayern Munich or not, bigger clubs are circling. There's a couple of options internally, and the club are also looking elsewhere. Ethan Bristow The youngster has been the go-to left-back for cup matches and tends to start for the U23s. He's been brought onto the bench since Richards' injury, but has found himself behind Gibson and McIntyre in the pecking order. Bristow's little run inside drags the right-back narrow, and gives Aluko space to attack He has good vision to spot a pass, and often plays them first time to not allow the defence to put him under pressure. That's normally followed by an intelligent run, and not always to get the ball - sometimes he simply pulls a defe