Week 15 featured match review: Reading 5-3 Surbiton

Reading's Darren Cheesman during their NOW: Pensions Men's Hockey League Premier Division game at Wimbledon HC, 6th October 2013.

A stunning second half display from Reading gave them a well-deserved win over Surbiton as Charlie Seccombe’s team recovered from trailing 1-0 at the break to Matt Daly’s 14th goal of the season.

A brace from Andy Watts within three minutes of the re-start and further goals from Darren Cheesman, Chris Newman and Richard Mantell stunned Surbiton and ensured all three points went to Sonning Lane.

Reading enjoyed a lot of early pressure but Surbiton’s strong defensive work ensured chances were hard to come by in the opening exchanges. Cheesman went close with a deflection from a Newman cross but despite Reading’s dominance it was Surbiton who created the first clear opening: On 12 minutes they were awarded a penalty corner. Matt Daly stepped up but was denied by a good save from James Bailey to his left. The corner was re-awarded due to the save being dangerous and this time Daly succeeded in beating the goalkeeper to make it 1-0.

Reading continued to press and Nick Catlin’s solo run could have brought an equaliser but the Great Britain man’s reverse stick shot went over the bar. Jonty Clarke had a great chance when he found himself free in the D facing the goal but Jonny Gall pulled off a fantastic last ditch tackle to prevent the No12 from getting his shot away.

Tom Carson had an opportunity from a penalty corner but David Kettle made an excellent save diving to his left and then the goalkeeper pulled off another good stop down to his right from Richard Mantell’s drag flick. With half time approaching Mantell did manage to beat Kettle but his penalty corner effort crashed against the post and Clarke blazed the rebound over the bar.

Reading levelled the scores immediately after the break. Tom Carson broke along the baseline on the right and bounced a cross in towards Andy Watts. Watts produced an exquisite first time finish to glance the ball into the far corner beyond Kettle. A minute later it was 2-1. Carson again threatened but Kettle made a good save to prevent his shot finding the net. The rebound fell to Watts who calmly despatched the chance from a tight angle to give his side the lead.

With Surbiton reeling, Reading snatched a third in the 44th minute. Chris Cargo broke down the left and played a nice ball into Ben Boon. Boon slipped away from his marker and squared to Catlin in the D, he in turn teed up Cheesman who slotted home for a lovely team goal. The two goal cushion lasted a minute as Chris Grassick displayed good strength and awareness on the baseline to break a tackle and then lift the ball over Bailey for 3-2. The scoring was far from over, however. Watts turned provider this time, cutting in along the baseline on the left and playing the ball into the D where the tireless Newman got the deftest of touches to elude Kettle and restore the home side’s two goal cushion.

Surbiton were reduced to ten men after Rob Moore was shown a yellow card for a foul. From the resultant penalty corner Mantell ripped an unstoppable flick into the top left corner leaving Kettle grasping at air. To Surbiton’s credit they kept pushing for a way back into the match, despite the deficit. With three minutes left to play they were awarded a penalty stroke. Alan Forsyth stepped up and sent Bailey the wrong way to make it 5-3 with his tenth goal of the season.

Reading collected all three points to keep up the pressure on Beeston and East Grinstead in the battle for the top three places. Despite the defeat, Surbiton held onto fourth place after Wimbledon lost out 5-3 to Canterbury.

Surbiton Coach Todd Williams told England Hockey, “It’s always a concern when you concede five goals. I wasn’t happy with what we did when we had the ball; it had an impact on how they regained possession which in turn exposed our defenders. We need to take a look at that and the pressure it puts us under.”

He added: “After playing well the week before we were off the pace today. We need to lick our wounds and learn some lessons which we will, but obviously we have to give a lot of credit to Reading who were excellent.”

Charlie Seccombe, Reading Coach was understandably overjoyed at an impressive three points for his team, “I wasn’t worried at half time as I felt we’d controlled the game. We were doing right things and I felt they were struggling to contain us. Once we got the first goal I felt the second would follow.

"What was really pleasing is that we continued to press them and managed to put ourselves in a winning position. We played some great 2-3 touch hockey and moved the ball brilliantly. It was a performance worthy of getting to the playoffs and we’re improving with every game at the right stage of the season.”

Next week Reading head to Hampstead and Westminster whilst Surbiton play host to Loughborough Students.