TRIALLIST winger Michael Fernandes scored a hat-trick as Reading smashed Swansea City 7-0 to guarantee a top-four finish in Under 18 Premier League South.

David Dodds' Royals went 2-0 up in the opening three minutes thanks to goals from Fernandes and Joel Rollinson.

The hosts dug in from there until the turning point came on the hour mark. Swansea’s Thomas Price saw a penalty saved by Liam Driscoll before Royals broke down the other and added a third through Ben House.

It proved as costly miss as Fernandes, who belongs to Middlesex-based Conquest Football Academy, struck twice more within seven minutes to seal his hat-trick, before Rollinson and House also scored again to complete the rout.

The U18s will now face the best four teams from the northern section in Group 1, with matches starting next month.

Reading U18s: Driscoll, Wilson, Medford-Smith (Green 70), Odimayo, Philby, Holmes, Coleman (Buchanan 79), Rollinson, Fernandes, Wallace (Denton 79), House. Subs not used: Sparta, Nolan.

Blades defeat

A YOUTHFUL Royals Under 23s side lost 3-1 to Sheffield United at Adams Park on Monday.

Royals fell 3-0 behind in the first half after Jake Wright converted an early penalty, Stephen Mallon added a second and Wright netting again before the break.

Tyler Frost did pull one back for Reading during an improved second-half display, but the Blades held on for the win in the Premier League Cup clash.

It means Royals still require one more point to qualify for the last 16 of the competition.

On a positive note, Latvia striker Deniss Rakels continued his comeback from a broken ankle with another hour of competitive football.

Reading U23s: Ward, Vancooten, Dickie (c), Osho (Odimayo 77), Richards, Rinomhota, Holsgrove, Frost, Smith, Novakovich, Rakels (Medford-Smith 63). Subs not used: Southwood, Green, Rollinson.

Big following

READING FC have sold their 2,047 away allocation for the trip to promotion-rivals Brighton on Saturday, February 25 (5.30pm ko, live Sky Sports).

However, a few spaces for wheelchair supporters remain available and there is a waiting list for any returned tickets.

Call the ticket office on 0118 968 1313.