Reading 2 Loughborough Students 2By Reading Hockey Club • Nov 13th, 2012 • Category: M1, Match Reports
A sun-soaked autumn day provided a fine setting for the much anticipated return of the Men’s 1st XI to Sonning Lane. Following their successful EHL qualifying campaign at East Grinstead, Reading were seeking an overdue league win having taken only one point since victory against Southgate in early October.
Loughborough Students, the visitors, were sure to prove a stern test having netted on 13 occasions in their previous three matches.
A feisty first half saw early chances go begging at both ends but the deadlock was broken by Loughborough with a 13th minute penalty corner strike. Postman Nick Page got a thick inside edge on Rob Farrington’s flick but could not stop the ball trickling agonisingly over the home side’s goal line.
Parity was restored to the game on the stroke of half time. The ever-menacing Darren Cheeseman cut in from the base line and beat two defenders before unleashing an unstoppable reverse stick strike that added to his tally of 7 for the season. 1-1 at the break.
The hosts came out of blocks hard in the second half, Harry Slater pulling the strings as some scintillating attacking moves saw the Students’ goalmouth peppered. The sound of Kookaburra on backboard was only a matter of time, and Andy Watts deflected in a powerful Simon Mantell cross to put the home side into a deserved 2-1 lead.
Reading would have been disappointed not to capitalise further on their high levels of possession, but the visitors showed good fighting spirit to keep themselves in the hunt. The Students’ tenacity was rewarded in the 58th minute as David Condon burst through home defence, taking his chance clinically to level the tie.
Buoyed on by a strong home crowed, the Blues pressed hard for a winner. An Olly Deasy cross flashed tantalisingly past the far post as the clock ticked towards the 70th minute. Loughborough’s Chris Gregg had the home fans’ hearts in their mouths as his snap shot thumped against Jamie Legg’s cross bar in the closing minutes. But neither side could find the breakthrough, and a hard-fought contest ended in a draw – a fair reflection on both side’s performances.
Reading return to The Lane on November 25th to face Hampstead & Westminster in their final home game before the Christmas break.