Canterbury double header featured match review - Men: Canterbury 4-5 Reading

131124 canterbury reading 32

A last-gasp goal from Jonty Clarke secured three points for Reading in a topsy-turvy encounter against Canterbury at Polo Farm. The home side had led 3-0 with strikes from Michael Farrer, Ross Gilham-Jones and Ben Allberry, however a flurry of second half goals from the visitors was enough to pull Reading level with East Grinstead in the table and close the gap to leaders Beeston.

Canterbury took the lead with their first attack of the game. Farrer showed good composure to collect a mis-trapped penalty corner and find the net via James Bailey’s pads with a fierce strike.

Reading could have equalised immediately, Tom Carson got into space at the back post only to see his lifted shot come off Antoni Kindler’s helmet and fly over the bar.

With the teams playing the game at a frantic pace chances were plentiful in the opening half. Toby Vaughan slid the ball through to Allberry inside the D but his reverse stick effort went just wide. On 19 minutes the home side doubled their advantage. Wei Adams broke forwards on the right and his hard-hit cross was deflected in by a deft touch from Gilham-Jones.

Kindler made another sharp save to keep out Dan Shingles and then saw off consecutive drag flicks from Richard Mantell as Reading pressed hard to get themselves back into the contest. With time running out in the half, Liam Foster hit the side netting with a reverse stick shot, but the score remained 2-0 at the break.

As in the first half, Canterbury scored from their first attack. Foster linked up well down the left with Mickel Pierre and although Bailey made a good save the ball fell to Allberry who made no mistake.

Four minutes later Reading sparked their comeback into life: Carson beat Kindler with a drag flick from a penalty corner. The visitors made it 3-2 just six minutes later. Carson found Richard Springham on the left hand side and the Reading Captain’s accurate cross was deflected in by Chris Cargo.

Canterbury re-established their two-goal cushion with an own goal in the 54th minute but despite this the momentum of the game had clearly shifted. Kindler made two smart stops to keep out Nick Catlin and Richard Mantell from penalty corners but there was no let-up in the pressure. Mantell got the better of the Canterbury goalkeeper with a low drag flick to make it 4-3 as the home defence started to creak under the pressure.

Just a minute after Mantell’s strike the visitors drew level from another penalty corner. The ball was slipped to John Jackson and although Kindler made another fine save, Darren Cheesman reacted the quickest and despatched the rebound to make it 4-4. Cargo then almost gave Reading the lead but not for the first time Kindler saved brilliantly, diving to his right to turn the ball around the post. Farrer fired a late penalty corner wide of the post and it looked like both sides would have to settle for a point. However, in the last minute a sweeping break from Jonty Clarke burst into the D. Although Kindler blocked from Cargo the ball ran loose towards the edge of the D where Clarke had continued his run, he fired a lovely first time reverse stick shot past the despairing dive of the goalkeeper to break Canterbury hearts.

After his side’s second stirring comeback in three weeks Reading Coach Charlie Seccombe told England Hockey:

“In the first half we weren’t good enough. We were poor on the ball and we were defensively lax. We took better care of the ball in the second half; we weren’t taking it into contact and we played into space a lot more, which allowed us to create chances. We knew we needed three points today, a draw was no use to us with the league the way it is. Our team has a lot of character which we showed again. We battle hard every week and today that was enough to get us the points.”

Canterbury Captain Michael Farrer was philosophical in defeat:

“We’re very disappointed to have led and not seen the game through. We want to be able to compete with the top sides and that’s what we did today. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the result, and with the position we’re in currently that’s not good for us.” He added: “When we played Reading at the start of the season we lost 3-1 but we never really competed. We’ve played much better today, certainly competed and could have won. That should give us some confidence ahead of the East Grinstead game next week.”

Next week Canterbury travel to East Grinstead and Reading have a home showdown with leaders Beeston. To read all of the latest results and fixtures, visit our competititions pages.