A post match report of a defeat is a welcome rarity at the moment for the Terriers, and Saturday's performance against a strong Reading Rovers team didn't deserve a write up of a defeat after an exciting end to end game against local rivals. The game itself was late starting, as the Rovers had decided to pay a visit to Birch Hill first, and a number of their players were therefore late getting to the Cantley pitch.
The Terriers welcome back Greig Scott for a rare outing with the development side, as injuries and unavailability continued to limit the match day continuity. What didn't change was the work rate and effort from the side, as the Terriers held their own against a Rovers side sporting country age group players and a wealth of experience across the back. They had the better of the opening exchanges, with Dominic Harvey and Jack Barker both giving the side width, whilst Robbie Campion and James Romain bustled busily upfront to ensure the Terriers were able to counter with pace.
However, the first goal went the way of the Rovers. Paul Harvey left the pitch briefly due to injury, and with the Terriers defence unsettled, Rovers too the chance to break with an aerial deep into the Terriers half leading to a well taken goal. A brief setback, but the Terriers responded well, and were level before the end of the half. A polished short corner routine saw Greig Scott drive the ball in hard to the outside post where James Romain deftly deflected the ball into the net, for his 8th goal of the season, and his 6th game in a row on the scoresheet.
Disappointingly, the game was then held up for a number of minutes, as a group of the Rovers players argued over the goal, as they believed that it should not stand as it was deflected into the goal above the height of the backboard. It appears their knowledge of the rules was on a par with their map reading skills before the game. Cantley is in Wokingham, Birch Hill is in Bracknell (for reference). And rule 13.3(l) is clear that a deflection can be any height provided it isn't dangerous (and as the ball went in cleanly and without risk of contact with a player on the line, there was no danger).
1-1 at halftime, and an even game which continued into the 2nd half. Rovers undoubtedly presented a threat going forward, although Graeme Aldous and Paul Harvey were solid in the middle. As the half progressed, a draw seemed like a likely outcome, until some slack defending in the D game Rovers a chance to turn and shoot, and the ball squeezed past an unsighted Marcus Bown in goal. Terriers pushed forward, and a chance to draw level from a penalty corner would have been a fair result, but a dragflick from Greig Scott was swatted away by the Rovers keeper. With a couple of minutes on the clock, Rovers attacked, earned a penalty corner, and killed off the game with a looping dragflick which evaded the defenders on the line.
A 3-1 defeat was a frustrating scoreline, as the effort from the Terriers probably deserved more. However, they only have a week to wait to get back to winning ways, as they head to Sonning where they will be looking not only for a win, but a markedly improved performance from the home tie against Sonning when a 2-0 victory masked one of the Terriers more disjointed performances. The Terriers also hope to welcome back three injured players, which will bring a boost to the squad if they are available.