Univ of Birmingham 1 Reading Ladies 3By Reading Hockey Club • Nov 28th, 2011 • Category: L1, Match Reports
Match report from Kate Walsh
It would be fair to say that this away fixture for Reading has proven to be a tricky one over the last few years. It was this recent history that coach Simon Letchford was hoping to quash once and for all. He demanded a fast, efficient and professional performance from his team feeding off the excellent run of results thus far in the league. His team did not disappoint in the opening 5 minutes looking to settle into the game quickly. However it was to be the students who took advantage of, what seemed to be a harsh penalty corner decision in the Reading defensive circle. Number one runner Walsh charged the initial straight shot down, but the Birmingham team were quick to pounce on the spilled ball and slotted it past the right foot of the encroaching Ellis in goal. After just 8 minutes Reading found themselves 1-0 down and it was looking like history may have been repeating itself once again.
There were some end-to-end attacks as both teams looked to make use of space in the midfield areas. It was some aggressive play from Emily Maguire at RH, which levelled the score after 18 minutes. Maguire cut in from the flank and found herself quickly at the to of the Birmingham circle. She deftly turned an oncoming defender before hitting the ball hard and low into the far post past the keeper. Who says defenders can’t score open play goals!
The scores remained level into half time, both teams still struggling to gain flow and a strangle hold of the game. A stern talking to and a few tactical tweaks were much needed at half time and the Reading players held much more possession as a result at the beginning of the second half. Although the momentum had definitely swung in Reading’s favour the Birmingham defence was resolute and forced some excellent last ditch interceptions and tackles from the young Birmingham defenders.
The second Reading goal, which took them crucially into a 2-1 lead, turned defence into attack with speed and precision. A Birmingham attacking corner was due to be slipped to the left but was read by Walsh running number 1 who intercepted the pass. The ball was collected by Reading players racing back from the half way line and played swiftly out to Maguire on the right hand side, she in turn played a quick long ball down the line to Liana Smith. In a classic training ground move Juanita McDonald was a move ahead and having lead to the baseline played a deft one two with Smith before Smith played a quick shot at the Birmingham goal. Although the initial shot was well saved, the Birmingham defence had been stretched by the sheer pace of the move and the rebound was dispatched by a well-placed Jess Brooker.
Four minutes later, in the 58th minute, the Reading team got the match clinching third goal. Now playing with much better shape and structure, Reading were able to move the ball around the pitch in what is fast becoming their signature style. It was some great combination and inter-passing that found Laura Bartlett in space on the attacking right hand baseline. With calm and composure she picked out Meredith Bone (Murph to her mates!) who tapped in the eventual winner.
All in all a job well done and three more valuable points on the board.