Taking on the complexities of a psychological thriller, this game posed the Shinfield team a number of challenges. A girls team. Reading FC. In a lower Division. But with an excellent recent track record. I don’t think anyone knew what to expect in this Plate game.
Straight from the whistle, the tone was set. Strong, fast, well drilled Reading girls, playing a good passing game and not holding back on ANY tackles. It’s fair to say Shinfield were outclassed and overpowered in the first 10 minutes and this pattern remained through the first half. Shinfield defence had to work extra hard against repeated attacks from Reading. Our attackers meeting some very physical opposition when they got anywhere near goal.
After 20 minutes Reading were 2-nil up, the first goal being slammed from the edge of the box leaving Luis and the defence stranded. The second goal slotted into the left corner after the ball had rattled around the goal area.
Shinfield had seen very little opportunity to get near the Reading goal with a very solid Reading back four snuffing out any danger we might have posed. Luis was kept busy with Reading driving continuously at our goal.
As half time approached, a rare Shinfield corner found its way through a crowded box where Casey was waiting on the edge of the 6-yard box and didn’t hesitate to side-foot the ball solidly into the goal. At half time, the 2-1 score line didn’t really do the game justice and Shinfield could easily have been further adrift.
The second half started with a refreshed Shinfield stepping up their game. In a change to the first half, Shinfield were now seeing a lot more of the ball and making opportunities up front. In addition, our defence had tightened up and the difference was obvious – much more play in the Reading half.
Reading continued to close us down quickly with some excellent defending and close-marking. But the Shinfield pressure paid off eventually and the breakthrough came as Casey received a loose ball on the edge of the box and decided to take a long range shot. The Reading keeper, solid as a rock up until now, misread the bounce and fumbled the ball into the goal.
This equaliser spurred on Shinfield even more. The game took on more energy. Reading tried to step up. Both teams not wanting this to go into extra time. Reading tried a long shot which Luis pushed onto the crossbar. Our defence remained resolute. And our midfield continued to pump through-balls to our forwards. Max, Casey, Ellis now seeing a lot of the ball up front, Aidan working hard on the left.
A couple of Max-Casey interactions worked well but were snuffed out by effective defending. With about 15 minutes left on the clock, Casey raced down the right flank, pulled the ball low and hard right across the box where Max was waiting at the far post to tap the ball into the left corner.
The remaining minutes became exciting, tense, nerve-wracking, all in equal measure as Reading tried hard to get the ball back into our area. Vinay, Dan, Ajay, Lewis, Jack B had all had a good game but now there focus remained as important as ever.
Another lofted ball from our midfield put Max through just past the half way line with two defenders chasing him . As he neared the goal area, a solid and well-timed sliding tackle by a Reading defender, stopped Max in his tracks.
Shinfield stayed solid for the remaining minutes and finished victors with a 3-2 win.
Full respect to the Reading girls for some excellent physical and well-oiled play. For our boys, it shows that they can stay focussed and keep going even when the game has started slipping away and the opposition look strong. A fabulous game today.
Final Score: Shinfield 3 – Reading FC Girls 2
Scorers: Casey (2), Max
Trophies: Casey, Dan, JackB, Vinay
Reported by Chris Starke