Striker Church prays for his big chanceBy Nick Ive
October 17, 2008
Simon Church is desperate for the chance to shine at Reading after playing a starring role in Wales Under-21s brave European Championship play-off double-header with England.
The Royals striker rattled in three goals in the two matches against Stuart Pearce’s side, but it wasn’t enough as the Red Dragons went down 5-4 on aggregate.
Church made an immediate impact in the 3-2 first-leg defeat last Friday, grabbing both goals for his country.
And he followed that up with another neat finish in the 2-2 draw at Villa Park on Tuesday night.
However, it is England who booked their place in the Championship finals in Sweden next year.
Church said: “It was a great two games, especially coming into the first one as under dogs and obviously showing we can handle it.
“The second game was all or nothing and we just missed out.
“It was great for me to get three goals in two games, especially against England, but at the end of the day I would have taken that away just to play in Sweden.
“At 2-1 up I thought we created a lot of chances, but we conceded sloppy goals and that has cost us.
“We hit the post in the last minute and that’s the difference – had that gone in then I think we could have done it.”
Church’s heroics against a very strong England side will be a real boost to the 19-year-old, who will meet with director of football Nick Hammond in the next week to discuss a new deal and the possibility of a loan move.
And he is now hoping to get the chance to help Reading’s push for promotion. He added: “England’s players play in the Premier League every week so it was a great learning experience and what I want to be doing.
“In the first leg we had 11,000 people there. It was a great atmosphere and they got behind us.
“It’s part of my development playing against players like that. I have learned a lot and it has helped me.
“It’s definitely good for confidence. I just want my chance here, so hopefully they have seen what I can do and do that somewhere else.”
While Church has enjoyed real success on the international stage, he hasn’t enjoyed much fortune domestically.
He has yet to make a first-team appearance for Reading and was recently loaned to his home-town club Wycombe Wanderers.
But his short spell at the League 2 leaders ended in disappointment after he was shown a straight red card for a two-footed tackle in the Chairboys’ 2-1 win over Dagenham and Redbridge last month.
“My loan spell has finished there,” said Church.
“I didn’t start (at first) because they were winning, then I got my chance in the fourth game and got sent off for a two-footed challenge.
“It was a straight red but I thought it was a bit harsh.
“That was my last game because I had a three-match ban. I was hoping for a better loan spell than that. It’s all part of the experience.”
He added: “I will speak with Nick Hammond, but the main thing is I’d like to see if I can get in the team here.
“If I’m not then it would be good to go out on loan again and get more experience.
Jem Karacan's Turkey also missed out in the U-21s Finals to Belarus.
Royals youngster Mitchell Bryant booked Basingstoke Town a place in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round after netting a hat-trick in a 3-0 replay win over Bashley on Tuesday.
The 17-year-old, who also netted in the first game, is on loan with the Dragons.