Reading Girls Under 16s 3 Maidenhead Girls U16s A Team 3
By Maidenhead Hockey Club
A NIGHT of High Octane Hockey
A NIGHT of High Octane Hockey saw our Maidenhead girls share a six-goal thriller away to local rivals Reading.
It felt like something out of the Fast and the Furious franchise with screeching shots, twisting hand-break turns, all played at a flat-out pace with a fair few crunching “coming-togethers”.
Twice we got two-goals clear under the floodlights, but each time the Reading team – peppered with County players – fought their way back into contention.
With the scores level and still 10 minutes to play…it was anybody’s game. One minute Emily was firing wide from a penalty corner, the next Alexis was sprawling at full length on the floor to save.
This was not a game that quietly ebbed and flowed; instead it pulsated at a ridiculously high beats per minute and left everyone – players, coaches and supporters – both physically and mentally drained at the end.
The girls should be proud of their performance which maintains the A-Team’s impressive nine-game unbeaten run all season. Although, in terms of progressing out of our group in the EH Cup it was probably a game we had to win.
We started well, pushing up on the Reading defence who struggled for most of the game to deal with our high intensity press.
But, by return, the hosts were dangerous through the middle and it needed our rock-solid Katie in defence, along with Holly on the left, to repel early attacks.
Still, our pacey forwards were causing trouble of their own and after 14 minutes pressure turned into shots…first by Tilly and then Havana. Reading could not clear and Tilly picked the ball up wide on the right to cross and Maisie touched home.
Reading hit back immediately, but their forward missed her tap-in at the far post. From then on, we traded attacks with Holly closing down a Reading penalty corner while Maisie had two runs and shots just wide.
Then we got a bit of luck when Tori’s long range shot from well outside the D was deflected in by Tilly to put us 2-0 ahead.
For the next five minutes Reading were in shock and we created chance after chance in a golden spell. Maisie spun and shot wide; Emily’s cross-shot missed the far post; Havana was in, one-on-one with their ‘keeper, but her shot was saved and then Tilly put another effort past the post.
A third goal could have killed the game, but with virtually the last hit of the half, Reading pulled one back from a short corner.
Undaunted, five minutes after the break, we went 3-1 ahead with Emily scoring from a penalty corner, injected by Holly. But two minutes later Reading scored their second from another short corner with a lovely four pass move to reduce the arrears.
From here on the pace was relentless. Maddy upfront launched several good runs alongside Frankie and Havana while at the back Lizzie was called into action to clear several dangers and Thea made an excellent debut in the white heat of battle.
The Reading equaliser came from a long hit out down the left wing and finally a home striker ran in to beat Alexis from open play.
Both teams battled for a winner but with Katie secure at the back and Tori rampaging all over midfield the girls played with pride and passion and were not going to be beaten.
It is the second time we have drawn against high-flying Reading this season and the result leaves us top of the table, one point clear of our County rivals, although they do have a game in hand.
But, for now, all attention turns to our forthcoming regional Home Counties League quarter-final knock-out tie against Hertford at home on Sunday 24 February. It’s going to be another big game!