ACADEMY manager Keith Brown says Accrington Stanley can hold their heads up high despite a 3-0 defeat to Reading in the last 16 of the FA Youth Cup.

Stanley’s run in the competition came to an end as goals from Jack Stacey, Nana Owusu and Harry Cardwell gave Reading victory at the Madejski Stadium.

The Reds had already shocked West Ham United and Bristol City to become the lowest ranked team left in the competition. Stanley also have only category three academy status and could have set up a tie with Liverpool had they won on Wednesday night.

Youth team boss Brown says his players can take great credit from their progress, with a number of players still young enough to feature in the Youth Cup for the next two seasons.

“We’re disappointed but obviously we knew Reading were a good side, they’re a category one club,” Brown told Stanley’s official website.

“The game was such a big occasion and there were too many passengers, too many players didn’t turn up.

“But it’s been good to play against top quality opposition, we’ve learned a lot from that and it’s always good for the development of the players.

“We’re progressing as an Academy, that’s evident, and we’ve enjoyed the cup run.

“It’s been a great achievement to get this far and that’s going to give the players a great advantage.

“The five, six or seven 15-year-olds that we’ve got in the squad will benefit, going into next season and the season after that.”

Stanley’s youngsters are next in action when they host Fleetwood Town on Saturday, February 22 (11am) in the Youth Alliance.