Curley Park Rangers Jaguars 1-3 AFC Reading Falcons (Connaught Pavilion)
[League – game 20 of 21]
Goals: Elliot, Josh.S, Bentley
We arrived at our penultimate game of the season, facing off against the league leaders and champions elect, Curley Park. Our opponents have had a disrupted league campaign after a good cup run and lots of postponed games meant they’ve had to play a lot of games at the end of the season and probably won’t get to play every game, although they should still have done enough to take the title. Falcons still have plenty to play for with Marlow, Pinewood, Camberley and Crookham all fighting with us for the spots behind Curley Park. We only had 13 players for the game with lots of players unavailable, so we fitted everyone in and went with a 4-4-1-1 formation.
This was our first time playing at Curley Park’s home ground, and the club has a really nice setup there. The pitch was on a slight slope and we also had very strong winds that were blowing down the slope as well. This made it very difficult to play when it was the teams were playing in the uphill direction. In the same way that Falcons do, Curley Park clearly had plenty of pace upfront and looked for the ball to their front man when they could. We created a couple of half chances and had a very decent shout for a penalty when Jeremi was taken out in the box, but as has been our luck this season it just didn’t go our way. Curley Park got the lead with a through ball over the top which their attacker ran onto and slotted past Jacob. They could have further extended their lead when they hit the post but we went in at half time with the score at 1-0 to Curley Park.
At half time we talked about the importance of very much still being in the game with the score only being 1-0, but now having the advantage of playing downhill with the wind behind us. The team put in a fantastic 2nd half performance and turned the game around. Falcons’ equaliser came from a nice flick on from Josh.S which Bentley was able to run onto and brilliantly lob the on-rushing Curley goalkeeper. We took the lead when Josh.S cleverly stood behind the Curley defense from a goal kick and with their being no offsides from goal kicks when the Curley defender was only able to head the ball back towards his own goal, Josh was able to collect and score to put us in the lead.
Falcons were defending well, but Curley Park were really pushing for the equaliser, a long shot hitting the crossbar and Jacob did well to parry out some other long range shots and keep the score at 2-1. The game was deep into added on time right at the end when the players produced an excellent pressing effort on the Curley Park back line with Josh.S, Jeremi and Bentley all putting pressure on the ball before Elliot was able to tackle the Curley Park left back and then produce an excellent finish to make it 3-1. It was great to see the whole team go over and celebrate the goal that sealed the win.
The team have produced a number of great performances this season and that one is right up with the best of them, with the odds really stacked against us they all found their best performances. Player of the match was wide open, Josh.S produced a goal and an assist, Bentley scored a great goal and didn’t stop running all game. Louie, Lawrence, Ollie and Kieran with Jacob behind them did a fantastic job in the 2nd half of keeping Curley Park out. The midfield of Josh.R, Matt, Connor, Jeremi and Dan competed for everything. In the end Elliot’s excellent work for the last goal and throughout the game means he got the award this week. So that just leaves our 23rd and final game of the season next Saturday, a complicated situation means that a win against Curley Park, a defeat for Marlow and the league awarding us 3 points for the Reading City game back in February could mean we finish as runner-up, it will be exciting to see what happens.