Reading Ladies 3 Clifton 2By Reading Hockey Club • Dec 5th, 2011 • Category: L1, Match Reports
Saturday 3rd December – match report from Kate Walsh
The last game before the winter break saw Clifton making the journey down the M4 to Sonning Lane. The away fixture wasn’t straightforward back in October with Reading coming out narrow winners, one goal to nil. Clifton were also looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss at home to Bowdon Hightown the week before.
The game was reasonably cagey to begin with and both sides looking to carve an opening. Both defences stood strong however, and Clifton’s keeper looked to be on form again as she saved a number of fine shots from Reading’s strikers. Indeed it was a stale mate until the 32nd minute when Clifton put away a well-worked deflection play at a penalty corner. Aileen Davis finishing the ball, which was slapped hard from the top of the circle.
Half time came at a good time for Reading and it gave them the much-needed opportunity to re-group and re-set themselves for the second half. Whatever was said in the changing room had an immediate effect as Reading capitalised on some aggressive pressing and forward momentum. A quick aerial out of defence from Kate Walsh caught Clifton out and a number of players miss-trapped the bouncing ball, which ended up falling kindly for Helen Richardson high on the left hand side of midfield. Richardson couldn’t believe her luck and passed it straight into a stretching run from Alex Danson. On picking up the ball Danson cut hard left to right and drifted across the Clifton circle before shooting on goal. The shot took a wicked deflection the ball looping into the goal leaving the Clifton keeper wrong footed and stranded.
Two minutes later Reading were up in the attacking third again. This time Sam Quek found herself taking a quick free hit outside the circle and attacking the baseline at pace. Her movement opened up some space on her backhand which she took advantage of and crossed the ball with her reverse. The ball squeezed between the keeper and the defence, in what can only be described as ‘the corridor of uncertainty’. Captain Emma Thomas was alive to the space and Quek’s intention to cross the ball and a full-length signature dive saw the ball tipped in with her backhand.
There was no time for the home crowd to settle though as Clifton quickly hit back in the 41st minute. Again Clifton looked to take advantage with a penalty corner and that they did. A shot from the top wasn’t able to be cleared by the Reading defence and it was tapped in by a waiting Georgie Twigg.
The game was now finely balanced as both teams looked to find the winning goal. Although I am slightly biased, I think it only fair to say at this point that the best chances were being created by an enterprising Reading side who were now in full flow. Aggressive pressing and quick inter-passing aided by some good stretch resulted in a number of attacking circle entries. One such foray saw a corner awarded for Reading and the resulting flick was deemed to have hit a defender’s foot on the line and a penalty stroke was duly given. With 6 minutes left on the clock Richardson stepped up to take the stroke but unfortunately missed. The three points were still all to play for.
The Reading supporters were kept on the edge of their seats right up until the final minute of the game when Elizabeth ‘The Terrier’ Hunt made a skilful circle entry on the left hand baseline. A last ditch tackle by the Clifton defender up ended Hunt and a corner was given. The deflection corner worked like a dream and saw the ball squirt over the keeper and into the net.
Some would say that games like these could make or break your season. There’s still a long way to go so the verdict is still out on that one but the players all know there were some hard and valuable lessons learnt from this tight game. Three more points in the bag and sitting pretty at Christmas gives the team some confidence going into the winter break and a packed indoor season.