Ladies 1 v Clifton 1
Written by Dave Wright - Reading Post
Reading 0 Clifton 1
New coach Merijn van Willigen is still looking for his first win, even his first goal, with the Blues.
But the Dutchman is happy with the way his side is shaping and reckoned they were unlucky to lose to Clifton on Saturday.
“It was an improvement on the previous game with Surbiton,” he said.
“In fact, I felt we were possibly the better side. We didn’t defend as deep and we certainly created scoring chances.”
The Reading forwards certainly caused the Clifton defence more problems than they had in the goalless draw at Surbiton and skipper Emma Thomas was only denied by the post from a penalty corner.
Blues, however, still lacked punch in front of goal, while also losing possession to a strong-tackling Clifton defence.
As a result, they rarely looked capable of replying to Clifton’s 12th-minute goal. And that goal should have been prevented.
Although losing possession as they tired to work the ball out of the circle, they still had plenty of players defending.
But two challenges were not strong enough and, though keeper Sarah Ellis got a foot to the ball, it fell to Jo Leigh and she made no mistake.
Blues tired hard to get back on level terms and Ellie Cockburn saw her effort saved by keeper Caitlin Jeffries.
Cockburn was even unluckier three minutes into the second half.
Susie Gilbert played a long ball in from the right which Cockburn picked up close to the near post and turned it into the net, but only to see the ‘goal’ ruled out due to an earlier infringement.
In a positive start to the second half, Blues also forced two penalty corners, but could not find a way past Jeffries.
At the other end, Reading had a close escape when Harriet Pearce missed a good chance from in front of goal.
Blues visit Canterbury on Saturday.
In the same week as her civil partner Kate confirmed she had changed her mind about retiring from international hockey, Helen Richardson-Walsh said she also intends to carry on playing for England.
The Reading midfielder is currently in “full-time rehab” at Bisham Abbey as she recovers from back surgery early in the year, but she said her target is to play in the 2016 Olympics. She plans to resume playing club hockey in the New Year.
Readings next game is Away to Canterbury at 17:00 on 27 Sept