On a baltic day at Charterhouse the boys knew the game in the Cup versus Reading was key for us to progress and make the regional finals...
We started brightly with lots of movement and great passing across the pitch. Harry and Jake formed a solid partnership at the back with Ollie down the right and Will S down the left. Joel did well to release Marc P down the right flank and a good save by the Reading keeper in the first 2 mins showed the threat we offered. Hobie blasted over the bar but we showed early intent. The first 10 mins we dominated possession but could quite finish off. We also forced 4-5 short corners in the first third of the game but the keeper either saved the shot or the chances came to nothing.
Reading were a strong team and always threatened us on the counter attack. The actually scored first after a good aerial ball direct into the D wasn’t collected cleanly and their swift centre forward shot into the left hand corner to put them one nil up. The boys reacted positively and came back with a well taken far post deflection from Firthy off a reverse stick cross from Marc P. Just before half time Reading entered the D for the second time and scored again leaving us 2-1 down at the break.
The boys stayed focused and kept passing the ball well. Harry found Charlie V after a great run and deflection into the goal. 2-2 and still we had most of the ball. But Reading then managed to force a short corner and converted their chance. We kept pushing and rolled the subs with Will T (ill with flu) going close with a few chances and Jonny and James P working hard in midfield. Lucas added some pace down the right hand flank and then after a great flowing move of hockey Will T made it 3-3. Ben R also appeared at right back and made a lot of progress down the flank on overlapping attacking runs.
With 8 mins to go the boys maintained their discipline well and kept everyone behind the ball to keep Reading out but the opposition fired a ball across the D and Reading did well to deflect it far post to make it 4-3 with 3 mins to go. The boys upped the tempo and in a frantic last few minutes we missed and open goal and went wide. But thankfully they kept the faith and after a scramble Firthy saved the day by volleying in a goal to make it 4-4. Connor also made 2 excellent saves in the last 5 mins, one a point blank block and then the last one was an amazing stick save to keep Reading out. What a game!!! The boys discipline on the day was excellent and the umpires commended them on the way they behaved.
After the game and during the debrief the boys understood how many chances we had and what areas we need to work on. Whilst it was frustrating not to win in many ways a mature performance from a team who never paniced and had the majority of the ball. Reading were a decent team and we will only improve from tests like this. Now we need to improve our finishing and short corner conversion percentage and keep lively in defence. We now face 2 key games for our whole season. The first is against Marlow to top the Cup group and make the regional finals followed by a league game against Fareham another decent team.
It’s all in our hands and I have total faith the boys will respond, stay calm and focused and perform well. An exciting 2 weeks of hockey after half term await!!!
Squad – Connor (GK), Will S, Harry, Jake, Ollie, Ben, Jonny, James, Joel, Marc, Firthy, Will T, Hobie, Charlie V, Ben R
Coaches – James & Ed & Martin