Colchester United’s u18s have officially replaced Reading as Arsenal’s quarter-final opponents in the FA Youth Cup.
Last week, Reading announced that the FA were going to remove them from the competition for fielding an under-age player. They ‘inadvertently’ included 15-year-old Imari Samuels in their starting eleven in the previous round.
According to the regulations, all players who compete in the Youth Cup must be 15 before midnight on 31st August in the current season. Samuels was only 14 at that point.
On Monday, Colchester United revealed on their club website that Reading decided not to appeal the decision. As a result, Colchester will take their place in the cup.
Reading originally knocked Jon De Souza’s young side out with a 4-1 win in the round-of-16.
“This is not something that we as a club actively pushed for,” De Souza explained. “Reading deserved their win on the night, but the decision was made that the rules were breached on this occasion.
“As a result, we have the chance to host one of the best young sides in the country at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, and it’s another fantastic chance for our young players to test themselves in a pressurised match under the floodlights.”
As De Souza mentioned, the match will now take place at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, Colchester’s home ground. The two sides will meet on Tuesday 6th March, with a 7pm kick-off time.
Colchester United u18s play in the Under-18 Professional Development League, one academy tier below Arsenal in the Under-18 Premier League.
There’s no promotion or relegation between the leagues, so the cup is a rare opportunity for the hosts to test themselves against top opposition.
Hopefully the young Gunners can avoid an upset and progress to the semi-finals.