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Academy Roundup: Royals Tail Off After Strong Start To September

Two wins and two losses leave Reading in mid-table in Premier League 2.

Reading v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Rachel Holborn - BRFC/Getty Images

September started in the best possible way for the Reading under-23s. The month began with the Royals staging a comeback in the second half of the game to defeat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium with Thierry Nevers and Adam Liddle getting a goal each.

After the game against West Brom, Reading hosted Swansea City. This was a match dominated by Reading where they showed their class, ran out comfortable winners and defeated the Swans 5-0 with five different goal scorers. Liddle began the goal-scoring, closely followed by Nevers netting the second for the Royals. Next up was Michael Olise who scored the third, followed by Ryan East, while Gabriel Osho finished the goal scoring with a late penalty.

After hosting the Swans is when fortunes began to dwindle for the Royals. Next in their schedule was Fulham at Craven Cottage it what would turn out to be a game of many goals. Fulham opened the scoring early on with Luca de la Torre grabbing the first for the Cottagers. Reading showed a spark after going a goal down before Martell Taylor-Crossdale scored a second for the hosts, and then striking again, putting the Royals three goals down.

Reading U23 v Aston Villa U23 - Premier League 2 Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Teddy Howe proved to be a constant threat to the Cottagers’ defence and went on to win the Royals a penalty. Gabriel Osho took the spot-kick and slotted it past Fulham’s goalkeeper calmly. Despite the positive signs from Reading, Fulham hit on the counter attack in first-half injury time to reinstate the three-goal lead with Taylor-Crossdale getting his hat-trick.

The second half began much more positively for the Royals. Liddle came on from the bench and his first touch secured Reading’s second, following a sublime pass from Josh Barrett to Nevers to set up the goal. Ethan Coleman scored Reading’s third, getting on the end of a Josh Barrett corner. Reading were now dominating the game and it showed when Olise levelled the score. However, luck didn’t go the Royals’ way and Fulham hit on a rare second-half attack to score their fifth with de la Torre getting his second, which would be enough to claim the victory for the Cottagers. 5-4 the full-time result.

The final game for the Royals in September was a heavy defeat to Stoke City at Adams Park. Stoke were in fine form before the game, winning their last three games before their meeting with Reading. Jake Dunwoody, Julien Ngoy and Daniel Jarvis all scored in the first half for the visitors before a second-half goal from Gabiel Kyeremateng finalised the score as a 4-0 victory for Stoke.

Reading’s under-23s also played one cup game: a 2-2 home draw against Colchester United in the group stage of the Premier League Cup. The Royals opened the scoring through Nevers, only for Michael Fernandes to level the scores before half time. Gabriel Osho netted from a penalty, won by Howe, to make it 2-1 to the hosts, but United made it 2-2 late in the game through Jake Hutchinson.

Next up in the competition for Scott Marshall’s side are Swansea City and Charlton Athletic, the two other members of the group. Reading will play them both at home in November - Swansea at Woking’s Laithwaite Community Stadium and Charlton at the Madejski Stadium.

Overall it was a month for the Royals that began positively but soon ran out of steam. Despite this, two wins is not bad going, especially given the nature of the loss at Fulham and the consistent positive signs on show - particularly from Howe and Barrett. The loss against Stoke, although a heavy one, could not be held in too much of a negative light, given the form of the Stoke side before the game. Defensively however, it would seem the Royals must improve in future months.

After these results, Reading sit slap-bang middle of the table in sixth place with three wins from seven in the Premier League 2 table. My stand-out players from this month are Teddy Howe and Josh Barrett - the latter having been rewarded with sporadic appearances in the first team in recent weeks.

Michael Olise was also shortlisted for Premier League 2 Player of the Month, but lost out to West Ham United’s Anthony Scully.