City’s Under 18s produced a superb display amidst appalling weather conditions at Reading to book our place in the Under 18 Premier League Cup final.

A brace from James McAtee along with a Cole Palmer penalty and efforts from Liam Delap and substitute Alex Robertson saw us seal the deal in emphatic fashion.

City defied both the challenge of Storm Dennis, a physical Reading side and a second half that lasted almost 70 minutes to maintain our impressive run of form.

The only note of concern was a worrying head injury to Luke Mbete-Tatu which saw the game held up for more than 10 minutes late in the second half before the youngster was stretchered off.

What happened

Amidst a howling gale and with rain driving in intermittently, the weather was every bit as challenging as a committed Reading, but Gareth Taylor’s talented young charges made the perfect start by powering into a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes.

After a Liam Delap effort had been ruled out for offside, City moved ahead on 10 minutes with skipper Cole Palmer converting from the spot after a Reading foul on Delap.

Conor Lawless threatened for the hosts with a dipping free-kick but we didn’t have long to wait before we doubled our advantage.

Delap was on the mark in superb fashion on 20 minutes as the forward latched onto McAtee’s fine assist before cutting inside and curling home a stunning effort.

And an emphatic first half display was caped on 35 minutes when McAtee picked up an Edozie cross before twisting and firing home.


                        LEADING MAN : Skipper Cole Palmer takes to the air after his early penalty
LEADING MAN : Skipper Cole Palmer takes to the air after his early penalty

To their credit, Reading never took a backward step and on 49 minutes they narrowed the deficit as Imari Samuels converted a dipping 20 yard free-kick.

However, City responded in kind and restored our three-goal advantage on 74 minutes thanks to an instant impact from Robertson.

The midfielder had barely been on the field before he ghosted past two Reading defenders and then coolly applied the finish to round off another excellent City move.

The action was then halted to allow for 10 minute delay for treatment to Mbete-Tatu before he was stretchered off the field with concussion.


                        ON THE MARK : James McAtee fires home the first of his brace
ON THE MARK : James McAtee fires home the first of his brace

And with five minutes left, Reading reduced the arrears again through Melvin-Lambert’s bundled effort at the far post

But City weren’t to be denied and McAtee capped a fine all-round display by rifling home a stunning long range shot to set the seal on an excellent afternoon’s work.

How we lined up

Cieran Slicker was in goal shielded by a back four of Sammy Robinson, Luke Mbete-Tatu, CJ Egan -Riley and Finley Burns. Joe Hodge was the midfield anchor with James McAtee and Oscar Bobb. Cole Palmer, Liam Delap and Sam Edozie carried the threat upfront.

What it means

We are through to the final for the second successive season and will face Stoke in the showpiece after they beat Chelsea 2-1 after extra time in the other semi.

The date and venue are yet to be arranged.

What’s next

We are back in Under 18 Premier League North action next Saturday when we travel to Liverpool for a crucial top of the table encounter.

Kick off on Merseyside is at 11am.