Lewis Ward has left Reading, moving to Exeter City on a permanent deal. The young goalie has signed a two-year deal with the League Two side, with a lack of first-team football on offer at the Madejski Stadium. The transfer fee is undisclosed.
He links up with two other former Royals - Pierce Sweeney and Jake Taylor, while Jack Stacey spent time on loan at St James Park a few years back. Exeter City is also of course the former club of the late, great Eamonn Dolan who passed away three years ago this week.
Ward never made an appearance for Reading’s senior side, instead spending his time in either the academy or on loan in the lower leagues. That was done most recently at Forest Green Rovers, who lost out in the League Two playoffs last season. Ward had previously been at Northampton Town but made few appearances.
Earlier on in his career, he represented Whitehawk, Sutton United, Fylkir - in Iceland, Margate, Hungerford Town and Aldershot Town. It was at the last of those clubs that Ward got to the play-offs in 2017/18 - only to lose out to Ebbsfleet United, with Tranmere Rovers eventually being promoted back into the Football League.
Ward’s departure continues an exodus at the club. We’ve already lost the six loanees that lasted the full season, while the contracts of John O’Shea, Paul McShane, Anssi Jaakkola, Callum Harriott, Danzell Gravenberch, Joey van den Berg and George Legg have expired.
Although the list of exits has now gone well past the dozen mark, expect more in the coming weeks. Reading will be hoping to move on probably around half a dozen or so more players, with some of the more obvious names being David Meyler, Marc McNulty and Adrian Popa.
Doing so is vital due to Financial Fair Play. If Reading want to bring in new players this summer, squad members have to leave first to create space and reduce the wage bill. That’s almost certainly a condition of the reported ‘soft transfer embargo’ which was revealed earlier this week.
As for Lewis Ward though, we wish him the very best of luck for the future. Plenty of Reading academy graduates have shone in the lower leagues when properly given a chance to impress - not least his mate Jack Stacey - and we’re sure Ward can do the same.
Now you’ve read this, here’s a piece about the success of Jack Stacey at Exeter City - written by Lewis Ward himself.