Reading parked their league programme and woes off the field to travel back to Exeter City for the second time in a month to take on the Grecians in the Pizza Cup. Now, we know that this isn’t really high on anyone’s agenda for a season and is used by many clubs as a development activity.
A lot was made on social media and the news roundup with Exeter fielding a “young and inexperienced team”, but given Reading’s current plight, we still fielded an incredibly young side. Several of our current first-team players, before the season kicked off, would probably have looked at this competition as a pathway for their development, but that’s all changed, give that our academy is now our first team.
Anyhow, this is a first-team fixture and setting a record win is always something we should applaud and celebrate. Two things that were pleasing were the attitude and performance that were put on. This wasn’t just Exeter having an off day, with an inexperienced team - this was a ruthless Reading display of pace, guile and power.
Not a lot was really bounding around on the social scene, but a few highlights for you.
Gallows humour in full swing
Could be worse lads, you could have put a City win on your accumulator tonight.#ECFC— Josh (@_JoshDenham) September 19, 2023
Always someone comments on a display
Praise be to the almighty
Pushing for first team…
Well I think it’s safe to say none of that lot will be pushing for selection on Saturday……#ECFC gonna watch Bristol City beat Argyle to cheer myself up!— Darren Macpherson (@DazzamacECFC) September 19, 2023
In true Catherine Tate style: “Am I bothered??”
Left early, citys kids 6-0 down as I type at home in the papa johns trophy - miles off it from the start, sadly never even a contest and this competition not a priority. #ecfc pic.twitter.com/6UacUZwLx1— Joe Southcott (@Joey__19) September 19, 2023
There’s always one...
As you can imagine there isn’t a lot... even though it was a record win. However, what there was is as follows.
The BBC carry an interview with Ruben Selles, who understandably is like a proud dad, and is focussed on getting the balance in the team, with the different cup competitions we are in. I do like his mindset around it’s not how old you are, it’s how you are playing and training. I’m starting to like this man.
DevonLive basically carry Gary Caldwell’s interview where he states that it wasn’t good enough, but that they are using this as a development piece.
Sky Sports, like a lot of outlets, doesn’t really cover it much but the stats are good when you look at them: 13 shots on target with nine going in is clinical in anyone’s book. I haven’t seen an 83.2% passing percentage or 60.5% possession in Reading’s favour for a long time.
I know that some fans don’t rate this competition and it’s largely seen as a development competition, but it’s still a 9-0 win and a good performance so let’s appreciate that. If nothing else, what it will do is breed confidence and it’s a win. There’s a number of players that we would have expected to be in this competition and are currently in the first team - Nelson Abbey and Tyler Bindon two of the more notable ones. They have taken their chance and are currently the first two centre-backs on the team sheet.
This is one of the things that’s a breath of fresh air with Selles: his want to give youth a chance, which is in stark contrast to the Paul Ince era, when they weren’t good enough.
It’s also good to see that we seem to have a production line of talent coming through. OK so it was against a poor Exeter side, but you still have to take your chances, you still have to perform and new talent such as Taylan Harris being given a run bodes well for the future.
So let’s not get carried away with the result, but let’s applaud it, appreciate it and use it as a building block for the coming games - not only in this competition but also the league.