Having lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa last weekend, we found ourselves on the wrong end of the same scoreline against the previously winless Royals after a sometimes lethargic display in which we procrastinated on the ball in our own half and didn’t really subject Reading to much of a threat until the latter stages of the game.
Reo Griffiths livened things up in attack after coming off the bench while Paris Maghoma was often seen marauding through the middle of the pitch, but a lack of end product cost us dearly at Hogwood Park.
Reading goalkeeper Liam Driscoll was tested by striker Rodel Richards inside 20 seconds before making a double save from Jeremie Mukendi and then Richards with four minutes gone. The latter chance in particular was a big one as Mukendi ran onto the ball down the right and forced Driscoll to parry, with Richards unable to make the most of the loose ball eight yards out.
The remainder of the first period was largely a non-event. Centre-backs Max Statham and Jon Dinzeyi both embarked on solo runs through the middle but found their options limited. Maghoma blasted a free-kick into the wall, while Royals striker Shamar Moore glanced just off-target as half-time approached.
The hosts began the second period strongly and we had an early let-off as goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie got down low to his left to save Jordan Holsgrove’s shot before Statham blocked Jamal Balogun’s effort on the line.
De Bie kept out a speculative low shot from Holsgrove, Mukendi slid just wide for us following an excellent team move while Nolan dragged across goal and wide on the counter as both sides traded chances.
Above: Paris Maghoma shields the ball.
Jamie Reynolds and Reading’s Joe Wilson found their way into the book for illegally halting counter-attacks – symbolic of the frustrating nature of the game – before the hosts made the breakthrough with eight minutes left. After right-back Tarig Hinds made a good block to deny Conor Lawless at the near post, the resulting corner was swung in and Coleman was first to it, nodding down into the net.
Pressure followed from us as we tried to find a way back with Armando Shashoua unable to convert, but our best chance came on 89 minutes when Statham recycled a free-kick and crossed from the right, Dilan Markanday got a slight touch but it wasn’t enough to steer it in as the ball sailed inches wide of the far post.
COACH SCOTT PARKER SAID
“The results haven’t been there lately and to be honest, nor have the performances. Today was not a reflection on what we want or how we want to play, I thought we were second best to everything, I didn’t think we had that real work ethic and they were more hungry than us, which hurts me to say because it’s not one of my traits so it’s obviously very disappointing. It’s the highs and the lows of Under-18s football. We need to help the boys understand that there are certain values you cannot lose and I’m just worried that we’re a little bit up and down at the moment.
“I thought we looked leggy, second to everything and it didn’t look like we had a buzz or sharpness about us. In the second half we came out a little bit but even then, there was a lack of sharpness or edge about us today. Early on in the season we scored goals and created goals but they seem to have dried up. There was nothing from today’s game that I could take and think ‘okay, I can see what we’re trying to do’ – today it just looked a bit of a mess and we all need to regroup and go again.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie (c), Hinds, Lyons-Foster, Omolabi, Statham, Dinzeyi (Reynolds 46), Mukendi (Markanday 63), P Maghoma, Richards, A Shashoua, Patterson (Griffiths 55). Substitutes (not used): Pochettino, Freeman (GK).
There’s no league action next weekend owing to the international break, meaning the next outing for our Under-18s will be on Saturday 14 October when West Ham visit us at the Training Centre for the first London derby of the season at this level. Kick-off is scheduled for 11am.