12:00PM, Friday 13 May 2022
Credit: Berks & Bucks FA
Following a rousing Berks & Bucks Senior Cup win over Ascot United, manager Noel Hunt was keen to highlight the spirit and togetherness of Reading FC u23s.
On Saturday, many of Hunt’s young men were forced to play in unfamiliar positions but proved to be capable of their new duties as they won comfortably by four goals.
Some of the starting lineup and substitutions bench also contained first team players who were happy to be drafted in for the showdown with Jamie Tompkins’ Yellamen.
“People say the spirit is gone in the game, but it’s not gone from our football club or our academy,” said Hunt.
“We had boys come in from the first team to fill the bench. Rashawn (Scott), after making his first team debut, has helped us out today.
“Nelson (Abbey) aswell as Kelvin E (Ehibhatiomhan) and Kelvin A (Abrefa) have put a shift in also.
“Some of the boys we had on the pitch were playing out of their usual position too, so I’m really pleased for them, really proud of them.
“To speak on our goalkeeper (Jokull Andresson), he nearly died two weeks ago. He caught sepsis and was in hospital. But he wanted to be here and playing today and listen, you can’t fault that spirit.
“Ethan Bristow could have chosen not to play today to protect himself along with three or four others who are out of contract. But they wanted to come and help the team. That shows you how close we are as a group.”
Hunt added: “I believe we were very well prepared going into the game.
“I didn’t want us to get involved in a fight and give away silly throw-ins. I wanted us to stay on the ball and try to work it out of areas. If we lost the ball, no problem, I wanted us to react and go get it back.
“I wanted us to hurt them in the top end of the pitch too and we did that.
“I’m really pleased with how the boys took on board the information we gave them and the spirit they showed. Everything was 100 per cent today.
“To be fair, it was less of a performance in the second half. We made three quick changes and it did disrupt the flow.
“We had a man go down too so we had to change our shape.
“But listen, the boys stuck at it and we scored another goal at the end. We kept a clean sheet too which I’m really proud of.”
Hunt is optimistic that he, along with coach Peter Scott, can help some of the u23s transition into Reading’s first team before too long.
“We want to shrink that gap between the u23s and the first team as much as possible,” said Hunt.
“We want to have a constant flow of quality players able to go into the first team when they need it.
“Football is a multi-million pound business and we know that there is no room for error so we’ve got to work with the boys and get them in the right mindset to be able to go into a first team environment and deal with the intensity of training, the step up in football, and the physicality of it aswell.
“Peter Scott is a great help with all of this. To have someone like him at the club is a huge asset.
“He’s the best coach I’ve ever worked with.”
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