The Citizens returned to winning ways tonight after a 0-1 win away to Windsor in an all-Berkshire Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division clash, Mckoy Palmer's goal in the thirty-third minute was the difference between the two sides.
Within the first five minutes, the Citizens thought they had broken the deadlock with a goal very much gifted to them by Windsor, but our hosts were saved by the offside flag from the assistant referee and the goal was disallowed. After possession was conceded well inside their own half by Sam Street and Sydney Woods, Luis Le Pais capitalised and found Dan Davies on the left edge of the box who finished with a smart finish low and across keeper Nojus Trinovas.
Shortly after Windsor would have their first chance in the game as Adam McNamara raced in to meet a long ball over the top of the Reading defence, having carried the ball into the box his shot went well over the crossbar when he really should have hit the target.
Windsor then had another chance, fifteen minutes in after a long free-kick forward from Kai Davis is headed on by George Gould and into the path of the Billy Montague, however, he couldn't get enough power on his looping header and it was easily saved by keeper Charlie York.
Sixteen minutes in and it was another opportunity for the Citizens as Marco De Sousa tried his luck with a shot on the turn from the right edge of the box but the effort was wide of the far post.
Twenty-three minutes in and Windsor were again looking for that opening goal as Adam McNamara was released with another early ball forward. His low shot across goal had keeper Charlie York beaten but Tomas Kalinaukas was unable to find the final touch to score at full stretch at the back post, a minute later the hosts were shouting for a penalty as Windsor debutant Ben Mulley went down inside the box following a challenge by Michael Butcher, David Pilling who was overseeing proceedings in this Berkshire derby however wasn't interested and got the game going again.
As we approached the half-hour mark it was the Citizens who almost broke the deadlock after Luis Le Pais found Josh Blackwood inside the box and the striker twisted and turned into space before taking a shot which was narrowly wide of the near post.
A goal would eventually come in the thirty-third minute as the citizens broke the deadlock with a goal against the run of play, Mckoy Palmer cut inside from the left-wing and got past Windsor's centre-back Sam Street with ease he fired a right-footed shot straight past Nojus Trinovas in the Windsor goal from inside the box.
In a highly entertaining Berkshire derby, it was end to end stuff at Stag Meadow as in the thirty-ninth minute, Windsor almost found an equaliser. A cross the left byline found Ben Mulley on the edge of the box, however, he would find himself waiting even longer for his debut goal as it was shot well over the crossbar.
In the forty-second minute, Alfie Grant was shown yellow for kicking the ball away following a free-kick being conceded.
On the cusp of half-time, Windsor again shouted for a penalty after a foul on Billy Montague, however just like the first penalty shout it was ignored by David Pilling.
At the end of the first half, the Citizens went in leading 0-1 after a great display in the first forty-five minutes saw a goal from Dan Davies ruled out in the first five minutes only for Mckoy Palmer to put us ahead against the run of play in the thirty-third minute.
The second half got underway with neither team making any changes during the break, the first talking point of the second half was Josh Blackwood finding himself in David Pilling's book after a foul on Windsor's goalie Nojus Trinovas, following a race for the ball on the left-wing.
Windsor would look to get the equaliser just before the hour mark with the free-kick awarded following the earlier foul on Trinovas but Billy Montague's attempt from 23 yards took a deflection and fizzled narrowly over the crossbar.
Now we know it's a cliche but this was a game of two halves as having been on the back foot for most of the first forty-five, the Citizens were putting on our hosts in their own with some good use of possession.
In the sixty-ninth minute, Windsor would again come looking for their equaliser but it was off target. A corner kick from Tomas Kalinauskas is headed wide by George Gould who looked under pressure, Windsor then had another go only a minute later as Billy Montague almost caught the City defence napping, having found Tomas Kalinauskas in some space over on the left side, the winger dragged his low shot wide off the far post.
Seventy minutes in and Windsor made their first substitution as Sydney Woods. was replaced by Luke Brooks-Smith, marking his 150th appearance for the Royalists, Seventy-three minutes in and the Citizens named their first substitution as Mo Davies made his first appearance having spent the last three months out of action replacing goal scorer Mckoy Palmer. The Citizens would then make their second substitution as former Royalist Matt Stockill was replaced by Adam Cashin-Murray.
With less than ten minutes left our hosts weren't giving up and went looking for an equaliser again, George Gould was found in space on the right-hand side of the box but his right-footed effort is well wide of the goal.
A final substitution was made by the Citizens in the eighty-seventh minute as Arthur Furness replaced Marco De Sousa.
With the game all but won, our hosts weren't prepared to lie down and would fight until the very end, so with eighty-nine minutes on the clock, Windsor would see what was probably their final shot come off the bar after the Citizens failed to clear from a corner, Luke Appleton was able to get his head on the ball only for his shot to blocked by the woodwork.
Into added time now and as Alex Ferguson used to say it was squeaky bum time, with the Citizens holding on to a slender advantage, leading by one goal to nil, Windsor were still desperately looking for an equaliser in this Berkshire derby.
In the third minute of added time, Windsor would have their final chance to stop us coming back up the M4 with all three points, however, we were again saved by the woodwork. After a cross was delivered to the back post, George Gould was able to head the ball towards goal only for it to come straight off the crossbar, the City bench were able to breathe a sigh of relief as David Pilling called time on this evening's proceedings.
Simon Johnson will be happy with his team's performance this evening as not only have they beaten a team that had only lost one of their last six matches prior to this evening's game, they've also earnt a clean sheet. Hopefully, we can now build on this performance.
Following tonight's win for the Citizens, here's what first-team manager Simon Johnson and first-team assistant manager Sam Woodruff had to say:
"Hard-working, disciplined performance from all. Back to winning ways against a very good Windsor side. I’ll take a one-nil win away from home all day long".
- Simon Johnson, first-team manager.
"To come away with 3 points against a very good Windsor FC team is huge. We need to take this momentum into February and March. Pleased to see Mckoy Palmer scoring again".
- Sam Woodruff, first-team assistant manager.