Deano Jones and our young Citizens faced near neighbours Didcot Town's Development Centre at home yesterday in the First Round of the Berks and Bucks Football Association's Senior Trophy.
Match Report by Nick Bird
It was a heartbreaking defeat on a sweltering afternoon at Rivers for Reading City U23s. The Citizens troubles in front of goal continued as they struggled to convert chances into goals, it's becoming the story of the season for the Citizens so far.
Reading City U23s were second best at the start as Shomari Bridgewater was struggling to deal with the Didcot right-winger who was pacy and skilful. He created some chances early for his side as he forced two saves out of Matt Hill in his first start of the season in Jordi Wilson's absence.
Another great chance for Didcot to take the lead came in the 27th minute when the left-winger broke away from his man, but put his shot across goal and out for a goal kick.
Just after that chance, the referee called for a water break, and the managers had an opportunity to talk to their players.
That quick team talk must have worked for Reading City as shortly after City were passing the ball around nicely and ended up finding M.D.Kabba. Kabba dribbled down the left side and looked sure to score before he scuffed his shot. Shortly after Jehmeil McNeil received the ball from a free-kick, he dribbled out of the box to get away from the cluster of players in the box before he had a shot at goal, but the goalkeeper saved it.
However, straight after that chance Didcot counter-attacked down the right, the right-winger got past Shomari Bridgewater and was in the box on the byline, Bridgewater took him down, and the referee awarded a penalty. The penalty got converted comfortably, and Didcot Town had the lead. Reading City U23s 0-1 Didcot Town Development.
So the visitors had the lead going into the break which was narrowly deserved. The first half consisted of a lot of battling in midfield to win the ball and create good chances for the forwards of either side, but no team managed to come out on top of that battle.
Reading City started strong in the second half. Jehmeil McNeil was doing some incredible hold-up play dropping a bit deeper which allowed Harry Peters and M.D.Kabba to bomb down the wings.
Early in the second half Jehmeil McNeil won the ball from the Didcot defence; he played a pass for M.D.Kabba. Kabba had a shot which went past the keeper, but a Didcot defender recovered in time to stop the ball on the line. Some of the City players appealed for a goal, but the referee had no goal-line technology to call upon here, don't quite have the budget for that yet. Only a minute later though goal-line technology wasn't needed when Jehmeil McNeil held the ball up before passing to Harry Peters. Peters cut inside and unleashed a shot from the edge of the D, and the ball flew into the bottom right corner to tie the game. Reading City U23s 1-1 Didcot Town Development.
The Citizens were almost behind again minutes later. Didcot had a free-kick which fell for a player who had room to shoot from close, but they lacked composure, and the shot went over.
Another one on one chance for M.D.Kabba came soon after on the left, but he put the shot missed the target. He was struggling on his less favourable side of the pitch and using his weaker foot.
However, it was Didcot who took the lead, the goal came totally against the run of play and came surrounded by controversy. The left-winger headed the ball at goal before the striker redirected it past the keeper who was rooted to his spot as he was prepared to save the first header. Reading City U23s 1-2 Didcot Town Development.
There was bewilderment from the City players and bench that the goal hadn't been disallowed for offside and they appealed with the referee, but he dismissed the appeals. Maybe if the referee had some linesman with him, it would've been a different decision.
Bob Touray was running the midfield for City defensively and offensively and was almost rewarded for this when he had a half volley on the edge of the box well saved by the Didcot goalkeeper.
There was a moment of panic for City fans when Didcot had a free kick on the edge of the box put past the post by Matt Hill for a corner. Nathan Jones cleared the ball away from goal from the corner, but it went out for another. Matt Hill made a tremendous save to push the ball over the bar from the next corner. The hosts cleared the danger from the third corner in what was a nail biting minute or two.
In the last ten minutes, Reading City U23s were in complete control, as they had been for the majority of the half, Kris Tuffour won a header from a corner and headed it down, but the bounce made the ball go just over the bar.
City looked destined to score and did so with not long left of the ninety minutes. Kris Tuffour sent a ball out right for Bub Touray who got away from his man and showed the composure City had lacked when they'd got to these areas and put his shot under the goalkeeper to tie the game. The Citizens had all the momentum. Reading City U23s 2-2 Didcot Town Development.
The home side thought they'd won it in stoppage time when substitute Ollie Wilson had a shot and hit the near post, the ball then travelled along the goal-line to keep the game level. The City players and coaches couldn't believe that they hadn't taken the lead.
City U23s were punished late on for not taking their chances. They were trying to build from the back and ended up giving away a free-kick. The ball got crossed into the box, Matt Hill came to claim the ball but couldn't quite get it. The ball then went towards goal and was put into an empty goal to give Didcot the win and put them through to the next round of the BBFA Senior Trophy. Reading City U23s 2-3 Didcot Town Development.
It was a heartbreaking loss for Reading City U23s as they were creating the better chances but lacked composure to put those chances away. However, there were reasons to be optimistic as they had been the better side versus a team 2nd in the league above, and there were some great performances from Bub Touray and Jehmeil McNeil before he came off among others.
Reading City U23s are back in action next Saturday in the Thames Valley Premier League at home when they play Woodley United Royals at Rivers at 2pm.
Both the first team and the U23s are at home on the same day for the first time this season, and it would be great to see some Reading City fans at Rivers before going to the first teams game.