Reading’s EuroHockey Indoor campaign kicked off against the Turkish team Kecioren Baglum SC. Reading started slowly and struggled to break down the extremely deep defence of Kecioren. However, Reading were the first to break the deadlock, through Helen Richardson-Walsh who calmly placed the ball past the onrushing keeper. Kecioren posed a threat in attack and within the space of three minutes had taken the lead 2-1, after clinically finishing a quick counter attack and slotting home a penalty stroke. Reading went in trailing at half time but quickly reduced the deficit early in the second half. Good pressure from Reading saw a string of corners awarded, and Thomas duly dispatched a well-executed routine. Thomas doubled her tally and within a minute of scoring her first corner she was slotting home another, and Reading went in front for the first time. Thomas completed her hatrick, after good patient build up play from Reading; space opened up at the top of the circle for her to drive and fire home Reading’s fourth. Danson added to the score line with a well-taken penalty corner, making the final score 5-2, and Reading took the full 5 points from their first game.
After the mornings victory Reading were ready to take on HC Rotweiss Wettingen. The early stages of the match were positive for Reading and Maguire’s brace gave them a 2-0 lead at half time. The second half saw four goals come in quick succession. Wettingen were first to score from a penalty corner but Reading replied quickly through Danson to maintain their two-goal lead over the opposition. However, Wettingen quickly scored two levelling the score to 3-3, after Reading turned the ball over and conceded two goals; one on the counter and the second via a corner. Helen Richardson-Walsh displayed some great individual skills as she passed two opposition players and rounded the keeper to score and with it take Reading back into the lead. Unfortunately Reading were unable to hold onto this lead, and Wettingen were successful in their search for an equaliser leaving the final score 4-4. The Reading girls had learnt a lot during the first day of competition and were looking forward to taking on the challenges of the next few days in their quest for promotion to the A division.
This morning’s game saw Reading take on Royal Antwerp HC. Reading knew a victory would see them top their pool and take three points through to the promotion pool. Royal Antwerp had other ideas, and took the lead in the first five minutes. Reading stayed calm and were quickly awarded a corner; Danson stepped up to fire home an equaliser. Reading defended well and created good opportunities going forward, however in the latter stages of the first half, Reading had to defend a barrage of corners. Ellis produced some great saves to keep the score level. Reading started the second half well and a good piece of individual skill and quick shot from Cockburn, deep within the opposition’s circle, saw Reading go 2-1 up. Shortly after, Reading extended their lead through Danson, who then completed her hatrick, after Halle was awarded a corner through good skills in the circle. Danson stepped up and zipped the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. This 4-1 win over Royal Antwerp meant Reading topped their pool and would take on the home side Gintre Strekte Uni in the last game of the day.
Reading came from behind twice during this match to secure a draw and a share of the points. The Lithuanian side had an extremely clinical corner routine, which they proved within the first three minutes. Reading quickly replied with a goal from Danson and both sides went close to taking the lead on numerous occasions, but went in level at half time. In the second half, Readings defence put in some great tackles to stop the Gintre Strekte Uni attacks in their tracks, but once again the opposition took the lead through another slickly executed penalty corner. Reading kept to their processes and within a few minutes were back on level terms with a second from Danson. The draw between the two sides meant there was everything to play for in the following mornings match vs. the Dundee Wanderers.
The pressure was on, with the format of the tournament, a draw or win was needed to see the Reading girls promoted to the A division. The battle commenced, with both sides giving it everything. Dundee struck first in the early stages of the first half with a well-taken penalty stroke. The next thirty minutes were a tense affair, with both teams defending resolutely and creating chances. Danson tested the Dundee defence on many occasions, however Reading were unable to convert any corners awarded. The final few minutes saw Reading up the ante by taking Ellis off the pitch and playing with an extra player outfield to score that all important goal. Reading’s perseverance paid off, Gilbert’s drop ball found Maguire at the edge of the circle who clinically and calmly dispatched the ball into the net.
Overall it was an extremely professional and gutsy performance from the Reading girls, with the result securing promotion to EuroHockey Indoor Club Cup in 2015. The medal ceremony that followed was a sight to behold. The podium was covered from above by colourful paper, as there was ticker tape galore! Who could pass up this chance to have a little fun with the photos…
Thank you again to all who have supported us on our European Indoor journey.
The Blue Army were out in force, their destination Wembley Arena to see the Reading Ladies take on Bowdon Hightown. The prize up for grabs: the possibility of being crowned Maxinutrition Hockey5s Champions.
The atmosphere in the arena was fantastic; the part of the crowd wearing blue was buzzing and the girls didn’t disappoint them. Within the first 30 seconds, Helen Richardson-Walsh put the ball in the back of the net, after driving through the centre of Bowdon’s defence. The Reading girls kept the intensity high and were rewarded for their hard work, with plenty of scoring chances. An attack down the right hand side saw Emily Maguire firing home a loose ball in the circle for Reading’s second. At the other end of the pitch Sarah Ellis was producing some exceptional saves denying Bowdon in attack time after time. Bowdon were struggling for answers to Reading’s press and Becky Halle was on hand to convert after Alex Danson drove strongly along the baseline following a turnover. On the stroke of half time, Reading were awarded a penalty corner which Captain Emma Thomas finished with panache over the charging keeper’s shoulder.
Coming in 4-0 up at half time was fantastic for the defending champions, however Reading knew that this score line guaranteed nothing. A relentless and ruthless second half was needed; the first goal in the upcoming half was key.
Reading hunted aggressively for their next goal and within two minutes, after two excellent initial saves from the Bowdon keeper, Halle pounced on the rebound to slot the ball into the goal. Another corner was duly dispatched by Thomas and as Reading’s constant pressure continued to show, Susie Gilbert pick pocketed a Bowdon defender on the edge of the circle and then calmly rounded the keeper for Reading’s seventh.
Some quick thinking and direct play from Bowdon allowed Tina Cullen a one on one against Ellis, which she finished off to give Bowdon their opening goal. Almost immediately Reading were able to reply through Gilbert to quash any hope of a Bowdon comeback.
The final two minutes were end to end. There was a goal for both teams as Sally Walton scored for Bowdon with a composed finish past Ellis and Helen Richardson Walsh picked up her second making the final score 9-2.
It was a clinical and professional performance from the Reading girls and they were deservedly crowned Champions for a second year running. Special mention also goes to Becky Halle who received Man of the Match after a fantastic display capped by two excellent goals.
A huge thank you to all who came and supported us. We are extremely grateful for the support we have received for our Get Reading to Europe campaign.
Now onto the outdoor season….
The club recently embarked upon a new sponsorship drive aimed at enhancing the ability of their men’s and ladies teams to compete at the highest level in Europe whilst also continuing the development of their first class facilities at their Reading home.
Chris Davey, Chairman of Reading Hockey Club said:
“This agreement with Dream It Believe It Achieve It is the perfect start to our recently launched drive for longer term, sustainable sponsorship and funding for Reading Hockey. In amateur sport, with success often comes high financial commitments and in order to continue our men’s and ladies success across Europe, we needed to find new partners. As the first of those partners, Dream It Believe It Achieve It fits the club’s ethos perfectly and I am delighted to welcome them on board.”
Matt Dimbylow, Founder of Dream It Believe It Achieve It said:
“At Dream It Believe It Achieve It we want to increase participation in sport. One of the ways we can do this is to support clubs just like Reading Hockey. If a sports club is run on a successful and sustainable basis, it is more able to reach younger players and provide accessible inclusive sporting environments for disabled participants. Partnering with a high profile and highly successful community hockey club like Reading will not only make more people aware of Dream It Believe It Achieve It, but will help develop our network of partners that will see us expand across many more grass roots clubs.”
The partnership has been agreed in time for Reading’s men’s and ladies indoor teams to wear warm up tops displaying the Dream It Believe It Achieve it logo at the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Championship Finals at Wembley Arena on Sunday 2 February.
Check out the Dream It Believe It Achieve It website at www.dreamitbelieveitachieveit.com