The FA Youth Cup has been fertile ground for Reading City and their JMA Reading partners in recent seasons with the Cityzens regular visitors to the latter qualifying rounds.
On Wednesday night though, the team of under 18s led by Michael Butcher, have the chance to make history for the club and reach the Second Round for the first time.
In 2019/20, Butcher’s side took Oxford United all the way to extra time only to lose out to a solitary Adam Smith strike in a 1-0 defeat while Covid hobbled the side’s chances last season despite reaching the Third Qualifying Round.
Butcher, player/assistant manager with the club’s senior side, saw his young side beat Gloucester City 5-1 in the previous round despite that club’s senior side being a Vanarama National League club.
Butcher said when asked if it was a bit of a surprise win in the FA Youth Cup Third Qualifying Round: “We were simply up for it. It wasn’t a surprise that we won but it certainly wasn’t expected when you are a step 5 club going up against a National League team.
“The score flattered us a little bit but it was a deserved win.”
City, along with Langley were Berkshire big FA Cup representatives this season though Langley departed in the previous round.
FA Youth Cup First Round preview: Reading City vs Gosport Borough
Date: Wednesday 3rd November at 7:30 pm at The Rivermoor. Ticket info: Adults £7, Concessions £3, Under 16s free.
Butcher, speaking ahead of the tie on Wednesday, said he felt it’d be a tight game between two sides who’d scored a lot and conceded few: “This is the furthest both clubs have reached. Whoever gets through this, we’re 90 minutes from a possible draw with a big boy – the Premier League and Championship sides come in at the Third Round stage.
“Like us, Gosport haven’t conceded a lot, we’re both good defensive sides so it’ll be a very interesting game.
“We’re without Connor Richardson who’s pulled his hamstring and our winger Sam Tanner, both of those have scored 11 of our 17 goals so far so it’ll be a different team we’ll put out.”
As well as managing the club’s under 18 side, Butcher is, as mentioned above the Assistant Player/Manager of the first team and he has a number of his young players featuring alongside him.
Asked how that affects his management, he said: “It’s important we set a standard in the first team, it’s important the players see us live by what we are trying to teach them.
Our coaching staff is experienced, Johnny Goddard is at St Alban’s City and will actually be playing in the FA Cup on BBC 2 on Sunday, we’ve also got Marcus Johnson-Schuster who is at Beaconsfield and Ben Cook at Basingstoke Town.
From the other side: Ryan Butler’s verdict on Gloucester City vs Reading City
Severn Sport’s Ryan Butler was at the Third Qualifying Round tie between Gloucester City and Reading City and sent us this verdict: Going into the game Gloucester would have been heavy favourites as the club have been there and done that in the Youth Cup before and that is how the start of the game panned out.
Gloucester could and should have gone ahead inside 45 seconds but the more Reading settled they surprised me with just how well drilled they are.
The key moment was the second goal as it deflated Gloucester more than any normal goal would have. You could see how much it meant to Reading too so it set them nicely.
Scoring two more at five-minute intervals before the break emphasised just how good they were.
As someone from Reading, I was also delighted to see the boys get the travelling support that they got, especially for an U18s side! It shows a special togetherness you don’t see too often,
Reading City’s 2021/22 FA Youth Cup run so far
- Three Qualifying Round: Gloucester City FC 1 – 5 Reading City FC
- Second Qualifying Round: Banbury United FC 0 – 5 Reading City FC
- First Qualifying Round: Reading City FC 2 – 0 Abingdon United FC
- Preliminary Round: Risborough Rangers FC 0 – 5 Reading City FC