• Ryan Sheehan

The Citizens March On

On Monday night Reading City played third-place Brackley Town Saints who were looking to close the gap at the top of the table with a win, meanwhile Reading City were in seventh place knowing that a win would push them up the table to fifth. It was a big Hellenic Premier League fixture and it definitely delivered with entertaining football.


Reading City started the first half as they meant to go on, a high counter-press upon losing the ball and good attacking football. Mitch Parker won the ball off of a Brackley defender and instantly played a pass down the right flank for Fergus Burton to run onto, Burton went down the right before playing a low cross into the box where Luis Le Paih was waiting, and Mitch Parker was running in, but it was Le Paih who took the shot hitting the ball first time but missed the target.

The high line in attack without the ball allowed Mitch Parker to intercept an attempted pass from one of the Brackley centre backs who was looking to play the pass over Parker to the left-back. Parker brought the ball down with his chest before dribbling forward a meter or two, then unleashing a shot from about twenty-five yards out from goal, the shot was on target forcing Matt Crowther to make a save. Crowther made sure he pounced on the ball before the onrushing Luis Le Paih who was looking for the rebound.

Le Paih had another opportunity to open the scoring fourteen minutes into the game. Marco De Sousa played a nice ball to Mitch Parker who was just inside the box. Parker chested the ball to bring it down with his back to goal before playing a first-time pass for Le Paih whose shot lacked power and was right at the goalkeeper.

Soon after that chance, Reading City had their best chance of the game so far. Sam Tucker attempted a direct pass for someone to run onto but it went straight to Sam Hartley, Hartley tried to pass the ball across to one of his other defenders as Ben Lambourne was closing him down; however, Fergus Burton was pressed high up the pitch and intercepted the pass, which allowed him to get into a one on one with Crowther. Crowther came out to shut down the angle and did just enough as Burton put his shot over the crossbar in what was most certainly a clear cut chance.

With only a third of the half played you could tell Reading City would be on top all game if Brackley Town Saints didn’t change something. The chances were flowing for City, and they were unfortunate not to have scored.

It took just under twenty minutes for Brackley to have their first significant chance of the game. George Ball played a low cross from the byline just inside the box, Ellis Cowd managed to get something on it to divert the cross, however, the ball rolled to the edge of the box where Godfrey put everything behind his shot as he ran onto it and hit it first time, but the shot was far wide of the left post.

Not long after their first chance, Brackley had another one. A free-kick from just inside the Reading City half wasn’t dealt with well by the hosts, Butcher tried to head the ball, but Ball forced him out the way, Lambourne then tried to head the ball clear but instead it fell for Sam Sharett who had a weak shot saved by Charlie York who got across to it well.

After a quick spell from Brackley, Reading City were back on top. A clearance from Charlie York wasn’t won in the air cleanly by Hartley and fell to Luis Le Paih with space around him on the halfway line. The centre-midfielder dribbled to just outside the eighteen-yard box without being closed down, from there he had an attempt at goal, but it went straight at the goalkeeper.

The pressure continued as some good crosses went in firstly from Parker then by De Sousa, the latter was put out for a corner. The corner went to Le Paih who tried to head the ball back into the danger area from the back post, it was blocked and fell for Burton who then played a pass to Le Paih who had pulled out to the right more to give himself room, Le Paih played a cross upon receiving the ball and captain Ellis Cowd won the aerial battle, but Crowther made a good reactionary save from the close-range header to prevent the home side taking the lead.

Despite the constant pressure and chances Reading City were creating, they gave away a penalty with ten minutes to go in the half. A low cross was put into the box by Brackley from the right-wing, Butcher attempted to clear it but failed to direct it up the field, and the ball went to debutant Ben Lambourne. Lambourne stretched his leg out to stop the ball from rolling to the person who initially crossed the ball, by doing so the ball rolled further from him than he’d have liked and was dispossessed under pressure from two Brackley players. George Ball was the player who won the ball, Alfie Grant then attempted to make what could be described as a desperation slide tackle which looked like it took Ball’s back leg as he was spinning to get away from the tackle and it was enough contact to bring the Brackley winger down, and the referee awarded a penalty. Ryan Knight put the penalty into the bottom right corner sending York the wrong way, Reading City 0-1 Brackley Town Saints.

Reading City were back to creating chances despite the goal. Mitch Parker cut in from the right side after receiving the ball from Le Paih. Parker tried to throw off his defender with a few step-overs, and it opened a gap to have a shot which he did so, but it was blocked well by a Brackley defenders head.

Finally, Reading City found the goal they’d deserved for the whole half, and it came at a crucial time with one minute left in the half. Parker played a one-two with Le Paih and hit a shot first time when he received the ball back, the shot was blocked slightly but still rolled through into the box. Brackley centre back Middleton got the ball instead of letting it roll back to the goalkeeper in case a City player intercepted it before Crowther could reach it. Middleton chose not to clear the ball first time and instead was put under pressure due to a poor first touch which meant he was dispossessed in his own box by Le Paih who played a back-heel to Parker who buried it with a side-footed shot from near the penalty spot into the bottom left corner, Reading City 1-1 Brackley Town Saints.

At half-time Reading City were extremely unlucky to not be in the lead but weren’t clinical enough when the chances arose. For Brackley Town Saints they were lucky to be in the game with hardly any chances all half.

City continued to be strong in the second half. Marco De Sousa played a ball down the right for Parker who brought the ball down and then turned inside before releasing a beautiful through ball for Fergus Burton to chase, but Crowther did well and rushed out meeting the ball at the same time but coming out on top. Almost right after City won a free-kick on the left touchline for an awful challenge from behind on Mitch Parker by Brackley defender Sam Hartley. Adam Cashin-Murray took the free-kick, and Alfie Grant won the header but saw it go just past the left post.

Brackley showed signs of improvement from their first-half performance. They passed the ball nicely around the box in the build-up to a good cross from half-time substitute Stott which was put wide by an ambitious scorpion kick attempt from Knight. Soon after Knight had another chance as he got on the end of a through ball, he cut inside to be on his left foot and looked to put his shot into the top left, but Charlie York made a superb save to deny a goal. From the corner, there were big appeals for a handball against Ellis Cowd, but the referee dismissed the claims, and the game continued. The best chances and spell Brackley had had all game.

Just after the hour mark, the home side went close again. Cashin-Murray had a shot blocked on the turn, and the free ball was picked up by Parker who cut in from the right and forced another good save out of Crowther.

A minute later City found their second goal, and it came from the previous chance. Debutant Ben Lambourne received the ball on the left side from a beautiful chip pass by Le Paih. Lambourne’s first cross was blocked, and the pitch stopped the ball just before it went out. Lambourne recollected the ball and dribbled towards the byline before cutting back which created space for a cross on his right foot, it was an almost perfect cross for one of last weeks debutants, Sam Tucker, to head into the bottom right corner, Reading City 2-1 Brackley Town Saints.

With fifteen minutes to go, Sam Bell came off the bench and almost made an immediate impact. Bell brought back a high press with his fresh legs, and he won the ball from a poor first touch, he dribbled forward towards goal and he hit it just as he got into the box forcing another good save out of Crowther who really kept his side in the game and kept the scoreline respectable for Brackley.

Just over ten minutes to go and another free-kick caused issues as nobody won the aerial battle cleanly, but Ellis Cowd got to the ball first with a sliding shot which was on target, but the goalkeeper made the save.

City found a third to secure the three points with two minutes left to go of the ninety minutes. The play for the goal started from the edge of City’s box as Cashin-Murray made a clearance which went to Le Paih who headed it on to Parker who returned the ball to Le Paih with a flick.

Le Paih showed his pace, and he dribbled down the left with speed into the box and had a shot saved, but the rebound fell for him, he kept the ball under close control with two men putting him under pressure but he still managed to poke a ball through for Sam Bell who was given far too much time to set himself up to shoot in the box and he calmly put his shot past the goalkeeper, Reading City 3-1 Brackley Town Saints.

Brackley had a final chance to score a consolation goal when two substitutes combined, Kille played a through ball for McCallum, but York rushes out quickly to shut down the angles and made a save to keep the scoreline as it was.

It was a superb victory for City who controlled the game throughout. Luis Le Paih was incredible throughout and played a part in all the goals with two assists and a pass to the assister, and he was also involved in a lot of the chances which went close, definitely man of the match.

The next game for Reading City is away to Shrivenham who we beat on the opening day of the season 3-1 at the Rivermoor. If you aren’t able to make it to the game, there are two games scheduled to take place at The Rivermoor.

The next game for Reading City is away to Shrivenham who we beat on the opening day of the season 3-1 at the Rivermoor. If you aren’t able to make it to the game, there are two games scheduled to take place at Rivermoor and Rivers. The U16s play in the morning at Rivers in the JPL and then the U23s play at the Rivermoor for the first time this season at 2pm, more news for all three games will be posted on twitter @ReadingCityFC and @RDGCityFCYouth.

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