Week 6 featured match review: Reading 6-0 Sutton Coldfield

Leah Wilkinson Reading Investec Women's Hockey League 450x288

Investec Women’s Premier Division: Reading 6-0 Sutton Coldfield

A hat-trick from Alex Danson stole the show as Reading produced a dominant display to brush aside Sutton Coldfield and maintain their position at the top of the league.

Danson’s hat-trick goal came from a penalty corner with the last play of the game and put a gloss on a performance that also featured goals from Dirkie Chamberlain, Leah Wilkinson and Becky Halle. Had it not been for a splendid display from goalkeeper Becky Batsford, Sutton could have sunk without trace.

Reading took control of the game from the off forcing a number of early penalty corners. Wilkinson’s flick was saved by Batsford from the first one and then the goalkeeper could only watch as Susie Gilbert struck a post from close range from the next. Then, Batsford showed good reflexes to keep out a deflection from Halle but it was only a matter of time before Reading took the lead.

The opening goal came on 20 minutes. Danson burst into the D on the left from a long corner, escaped her marker and fired a good shot inside the near post to make it 1-0.

Steve Bayer’s side didn’t let up and Batsford was again called upon to repel first Helen Richardson and then Wilkinson in quick succession.

On 31 minutes the ‘Ding started a four minute blitz of goals. The first came from a lovely move involving Halle and Danson. The latter fired a low reverse-stick cross into the D where Chamberlain applied the finish with a deft touch. Two minutes later Halle netted her third of the season, reacting quickly to a penalty corner rebound to slap home. With Sutton reeling, Reading bagged a fourth. Wilkinson shimmied around the runner at a penalty corner and smashed a fierce low shot into the corner to make it 4-0 at the break.

The second half picked up where the first finished as the home side continued to dominate. Helen Richardson broke into the D and flicked low for the far corner, only to see Batsford produce another superb save diving to her right to turn the ball round the post with her stick.

Sutton were sitting deep aiming to limit the damage but managed to force their first penalty corner: Rosie Bailey slipped the ball to Laura Price but her pass went harmlessly out of play, leaving Sarah Ellis in the home goal untroubled.

Reading resumed their pressure and Batsford pulled off another stunning save to keep out an Emma Thomas drag flick and then a splendid sprawling save to deny Chamberlain.

On 56 minutes, Batsford was powerless to stop Danson notching her second and Reading’s fifth. The England star turned the defender and burst into the D where she fired an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner.

The Great Britain striker was hunting for her hat-trick but when she saw an effort cleared off the line by Charlotte Cross and another chance smothered by the goalkeeper it looked like she would have to settle for a brace. However, with the last play of the match Danson was not to be denied. A penalty corner was injected to the top of the D and although the move appeared to break down, Danson kept her cool and found the bottom corner to make it 6-0.

Reading now head the table with a lead of two points over second-placed Canterbury who drew 2-2 with Leicester.

Sutton Coldfield Coach, Don Vinson was philosophical in defeat saying:

“Today we came up short; obviously Reading fully deserved to win and were a much better team. That’s no problem; we’ll just keeping scrapping and fighting and see what we can do. For us it’s about coming and giving a performance and competing as much as we can but also setting ourselves up for our next five games. Those games are probably much bigger for us than today was.”

Reading Captain Emma Thomas was happy with her side’s efforts, telling England Hockey:

“We’re really pleased with the performance; it’s great to get three points on the board which is the important thing. We had patches where we played some really good hockey but our target is to extend those patches and make them as long as we can. Sutton made our life hard at times by compacting the circle and denying us space which is always tough to play against but overall, three points, six goals, we have to be pretty happy with that.”

Steve Bayer, Reading coach echoed his captain’s thoughts:

“It was a professional performance today. The girls worked hard, did their jobs and delivered the three points. Our momentum dropped a little in the second half, which we’ll look at, as we’d like to sustain that for longer periods, but overall it’s a very satisfying display for us.”

Next week Reading face a tough game against Clifton whilst Sutton go up against Bowdon Hightown.