AFC Reading Falcons 2-2 AFC Henley Hotspurs (Coley Recreation Grnd)
[League – game 19 of 21]
Assists: Cam, Elliot
This was the third time this season we had played Henley on the previous two occasions the only thing that had separated the two teams was a very tense penalty shootout in the cup. This game was equally as closely matched as the previous ones. Falcons had a number of players missing in key positions; we patched ourselves up and plugged the holes with players once again willing to play where they needed to help the team out. We used the 4-4-1-1 formation with a lone striker and an attacking midfielder playing just behind him.
We nearly had a dream start to the game when, with less than 30 seconds on the clock, Osamah raced through and shot just wide of the post. We did take the lead in the game when Elliot played the ball out of defence to Osamah, who picked the ball up in his own half and set off at pace, running more than half the length of the pitch before slotting the ball home. Henley got themselves level before the half time break when a cross from their right was parried into the middle by Cam, who was standing in for Jacob, the ball bounced around in the middle of the penalty area and unfortunately for Falcons bobbled into the net.
The 2nd half hinged on some key decisions by the referee, before those we got the lead again when a good kick out from Cam in goal allowed Osamah to chase through and grab his 2nd of the match and his 30th goal of a great season for him. Osamah was then through again when the defender pushed him in the back to stop him being able to get the ball, unfortunately for us the referee’s view was blocked and he was unable to give the decision (he told me after the game). As the game wore on Henley got a free-kick which was well struck and bounced on the hard pitch just in front of our goalkeeper, causing the ball to be spilled back out in front of goal. Henley followed in well and their attacker shot the ball well wide, there was then a collision between the attacker and the goalkeeper, and much to our dismay the referee decided it was a foul and a penalty. This happened to be the same referee who changed his mind over a penalty decision for us in the Reading City game. Henley scored the penalty and grabbed a draw from a game they had played well in, but having been ahead twice we would have liked to have won it.
I don’t want to complain about referees and their decisions; we need them to be able to play the games and we should encourage them as much as possible, I chatted calmly to this one after the game to ask about the push on Osamah, the penalty decision for Henley and the penalty he changed his mind about in the Reading City game. They will make mistakes and this one was very young and will hopefully have gained some important experience from the two recent games he has refereed for us.
The penalty decisions that have gone against us are harsh and the goals have directly affected our final league positions. Unfortunately none of them were meaningless, which can sometimes make them all the harder to take. Full credit to the players in this game we coped with the player absences brilliantly. Dan took the Man of the Match award, I’m not sure if he has ever played as a centre back before but he did an excellent job there and fully deserved to take the trophy home.