Buried by all the talk about doing away with replays and the thrashing of a baby-faced Manchester City side by Chelsea is a romantic tale in the best traditions of the FA Cup.

One which Albion and practically every club in the country should pay attention to.

Reading's fifth round victory against West Brom at the Madejski Stadium was inconvenient for the Seagulls, prompting the postponement of the Royals' Sky televised visit to the Amex scheduled for March 11.

It was, however, a rare triumph for an academy, the system which Premier League and Championship clubs in particular invest in so heavily in start-up costs, staffing and man hours in the quest to produce their own players.

The Reading team that defeated the other high-ranking Albion should be a blueprint for the Seagulls' academy, still in its infancy at the club's high-tech training complex in Lancing.

The starting line-up that came from behind against the Baggies to book a quarter-final spot contained five academy graduates. Another was on the bench.

They are a mixture of authentic, home-grown products and players developed from an early age from the rejection bin or traditional territories of others.

Defender Jake Cooper was born in Bracknell. He has been with Reading since he was 14.

Fellow defender Michael Hector, from East Ham, joined when he was 17. Reading sold him to Chelsea last September for £4.5 million and he is now back with them on loan.

The versatile Jordan Obita, Oxford-born, has been with Reading from the age of eight.

Welsh international winger Hal Robson-Kanu, born in Acton, joined them from Arsenal when he was 15.

Experienced striker Simon Cox, from the Reading suburb of Tilehurst, is back with his home town team after spells at Swindon, Nottingham Forest and West Brom.

The substitutes against West Brom included teenage academy striker Josh Barrett.

The next generation are on their way. Reading are away to Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup on Friday.

The Berkshire production line speaks volumes for the work of Reading's academy chief, Eamon Dolan, the scouts and the coaches.

This is the way it is supposed to be, an academy with an end product. Players coming through the system to represent the first team and/or sold on for a handsome profit.

It justifies all the money spent on facilities and nurturing and developing multitudes of players from the age of nine.

In most cases it is just a facade, especially among the elite. How many of the Manchester City kids that played at Stamford Bridge, for example, will ever appear in the first team again?

Reading were granted academy status by the FA 17 years ago. They achieved category one status in July 2013. Their operation is well-established.

Category one status for Albion - putting their youth set-up on a par with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea - coincided with the opening of the £30 million 'Elite Football Performance Centre' in Lancing in the summer of 2014.

Chairman and chief funder Tony Bloom described it at the time as a "primary goal".

It is too early to judge Albion's Lancing academy. The test will be in a few years time. How many home-grown players will be in first team contention by then?

There is one in Chris Hughton's first team squad at the moment, Lewis Dunk. He came through the ranks, despite the disadvantages Albion faced at Withdean.

When they went to Hull in the FA Cup with what amounted to a reserve team last month, development squad players were conspicuous by their absence.

Rob Hunt, included because of the left-back crisis, was an unused substitute. James Tilley travelled but missed out on the matchday 18.

Tilley, 17, from Billinghurst, handed his senior debut by Hughton right at the end of the final game of last season at Middlesbrough, is a chink of hope.

Albion are importing European talent for both the under-21s and younger age groups.

Dean Wilkins dreamt when he was Albion manager of the club fielding a team of home-grown players.

That was unrealistic but by 2026 they need to have the same sort of number as Reading to make all the academy expense and effort worthwhile.