Youth Cup Preview

Tuesday 1 April 2014 11:00

Our Under-18s make Club history on Tuesday night when they take on Reading (7pm) in their first ever FA Youth Cup Semi-Final.

The Whites make the trip to the Madejski Stadium for the First Leg, before taking on the Royals at Craven Cottage next Monday.

Steve Wigley’s side have claimed three consecutive Barclays U18 Premier League titles, two straight National Play-Off Final trophies and, of course, the prestigious Dallas Cup in recent seasons. The FA Youth Cup has, so far, proved elusive.

Fulham made the last four courtesy of a hard-fought 2-1 win against Huddersfield Town in the Quarter-Final, with Moussa Dembélé netting both. The talented young French striker also hit a double in the 3-1 defeat of Manchester City in the Fifth Round after Captain Liam Donnelly opened the scoring.

Patrick Roberts – who, like Dembélé, has featured for the First Team in recent weeks – was our Fourth Round match-winner, with the 17-year-old scoring a hat-trick in the entertaining 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

Emerson Hyndman, Dean O’Halloran, George Williams and Jordan Evans were all on target as the Whites got their cup run off to a flying start at Queens Park Rangers in the Third Round, with a commanding 4-1 dismissal of their West London neighbours.

Opponents Reading started their path to the Semi-Final with a 3-1 win at Leeds United in the Third Round, while penalties were needed to see off Crewe Alexandra in the Fourth Round after a 3-3 draw at the end of extra-time.

A comfortable 3-0 Fifth Round defeat of Accrington Stanley followed, before an entertaining Quarter-Final victory over Liverpool. In an incredible encounter at the Madejski, Reading led 2-0 until two late strikes from the Reds took the game to extra time. The visitors then went 4-2 up, but the Royals hit back to score twice in the last three minutes. De’Jaune Taylor-Crossdale scored the winning spot-kick as Reading recorded a 5-4 shootout victory.

Fulham and Reading will know all about one another having already met twice in this season’s Under-18 Premier League, with the Whites currently sitting in third place and the Royals in sixth.

In August, Wigley’s charges claimed a 4-3 win at Motspur Park courtesy of a 90th-minute strike from Williams. An own goal from Rob Dickie put Fulham in front, with Dembélé (2) also on target. The Whites also secured a 2-1 win at Reading’s training ground in January, with O’Halloran and Evans scoring in a narrow victory.

The two sides did, of course, meet in last season’s National Play-Off Final, with Dembélé underlining his talent in front of goal when scoring a stunning hat-trick in the Whites’ 3-0 win at Craven Cottage. With previous, there will no doubt be plenty more action unfolding over the coming seven days as Fulham look to see off Reading to reach the FA Youth Cup showpiece.