Whites young guns shoot for the stars after cup triumph
WANDERERS Under-18s completed a cup double for the club when they beat 10-man Reading on Wednesday night to make it through to round five of the FA Youth Cup.
Just 24 hours after the first team had shocked Premier League Sunderland in the FA Cup, David Lee and Tony Kelly’s side did likewise to a top-flight academy side, winning by the same 2-0 scoreline in Berkshire, thanks to goals from Tom Youngs and Chris Lester.
And it was no more than the youngsters deserved after a battling display in front of a crowd of 495 at the Madejski Stadium, according to Lee.
He said: “We fought well against a big, strong and physical team.
“We matched them physically as well as trying to keep a well-disciplined shape.
“We had a game plan, and our team structure worked well.
“The preparation of the players was very thorough, with us travelling the day before the game, allowing us to prepare physically, tactically and mentally for what was a big occasion for all the boys.
“Their professionalism was excellent, combined with the desire and work ethic.
“The boys battled really hard throughout the game, and finished it stronger than Reading.”
The hosts, who were the only side to beat Wanderers in the first Under-18 group phase before Christmas, started brighter, but it was the Whites who drew first blood when they broke the deadlock on 22 minutes.
Striker Youngs burst forward and his shot took a wicked deflection to fly into the top corner past Royals stopper Dan Lincoln.
Reading responded well to the setback and could have been level before half time when they were awarded a penalty after Tariqe Fosu was bundled over on the box.
Fosu dusted himself down to take the spot kick but saw his effort superbly saved by Wanderers keeper Jan-Ole Sievers.
Lee’s side led at the break but had been made to battle hard and there was little let up in the second period.
But, on the hour mark, Reading were reduced to 10 men when skipper Aaron Kuhl picked up a second booking for a mis-timed challenge.
The Royals kept plugging away and thought they had a leveller when Fosu had the ball in the net only for an assistant’s offside flag to halt celebrations.
It was a let-off for Wanderers and they capitalised with a second goal when Chris Lester broke the offside trap to finish superbly on 78 minutes.
There was a late scare when Fosu’s powerful header was cleared off the line but the Whites held on to secure a fifth-round away tie at either West Ham or Tottenham who meet on Tuesday.
Lee said: “We didn’t retain possession too well, though we created a good goal through Youngs’ positive run and shot from 16 yards out.
“We forced Reading into errors and started to get on top and Sievers, our goalkeeper, saved a penalty.
“We scored a good second goal, after good link-up play between Zach Clough and Lester, allowing Lester to outpace the defender to score at the near post.”
The youth team return to Elite Phase league action tomorrow when they face another tough test away at Chelsea’s academy.
Wanderers Under-18s: Sievers, Gibson, Matthews, Holding, Maher, Woodland (Wolstenholme 35), Lester, Bailey, Clough, Youngs, Walker. Subs not used: Hendrie, Campbell, Newby, Hamer.