Berks County Res 9-1 The Hop Leaf
By Matthew Wade
County show killer touch
After what seemed an age between games due to bad weather, the Crematorium Ground had recovered sufficiently to see the match go ahead, would training, friendlies and shooting practice be sufficient to keep everyone match fit?
On a cold, but otherwise perfect day for football the lads put themselves through a vigorous warm up and were quick off the mark from the whistle. Good possession and quick movement were rewarded in the first three minutes when Darren McNeill’s long throw-in from the left was helped on into the box for Helder Fveitas to head the ball into the net, 1-0 County.
The early pressure continued when Stuart Lloyd raced down the right wing to whip a shot cross in that caused the keeper trouble and Fveitas was there to steer the ball over the line 2 – 0, five minutes gone.
The Hop Leaf were not giving up easily and peppered the County goal including a 25 yard shot that Chris Regan held well and averted the danger.
Ben Maddock and Dean Caffell dominated the midfield and distributed well with some lovely one-touch football. When the ball found Fveitas he pulled it back to find Tiernan Mines who drilled his shot just wide of the goal.
As The Hop Leaf went on the counter attack they were met by some strong and assured tackling from Andy Prendergast and with Dan Saunders keeping a cool head at centre back, County continued to play the ball out from the back.
Dave Amey and Lloyd worked the ball well down the right, with Amey putting in a delightful cross for Tiernan whose effort just failed to find the back of the net. With barely fifteen minutes gone Jason Chapman produced a goal out of nothing with a superbly struck twenty-five yard effort, low and accurate to the right of the keeper, 3-0.
McNeill and Mines put on a great display of inter-play down the left, winning a corner. Saunders picked out his man at the far post and Amey header was saved by the keeper.
Mines played a skilful ball for Fveitas, who was chasing his hat trick, shot from range but couldn’t beat the keeper.
Another long range shot from The Hop Leaf forward was comfortably handled by Regan who looked assured in the 18-yard box. Deep into the first however, half The Hop Leaf pressed hard down the left and a long, perfectly weighted cross left to right, split the County defence and the ball was tucked away past the outstretched hand of the keeper, 3-1.
County continued to play some assured, first-touch football, but couldn’t quite capitalise on the chances before the halftime whistle.
Following a halftime team talk and a switch to a more offensive line-up, County grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. Maddock and Caffell continued to dominate midfield and three minutes after kick-off Caffell released Amey down the right who christened his new boots with a 25 yard shot from wide right to beat the keeper 4-1.
Two minutes later Fveitas slipped the ball in the net and completed his first hat-trick in County colours 5-1. A double substitution followed David Parrott out onto the left, returning from injury, and Matt Wade moving into a forward position. On the hour mark Regan distributed the ball out to Lloyd at right back, he carried the ball forward before launching the ‘assist of the season’ with a 65-yard pass that found Richard Cumner who didn’t need asking twice and finished with aplomb, 6-1.
Wade was immense up front, holding the ball up bringing others into play and eventually laying the perfect pass for Cumner to nip in and score his second within the space of three minutes, 7-1.
McNeill, Saunders and Parrott kept The Hop Leaf at bay out on the left with committed tackles and positive movement into the oppositions half then, in the 88th minute, Wade’s efforts were rewarded with a goal when he headed past the keeper to make it 8-1.
Not content with his goal, Wade produced yet another assist for Fveitas, whose sweetly struck shot beat the keeper on the right hand post to complete the rout 9-1.
The training, friendlies and shooting practice had paid off. The score line did not reflect the true nature of the game as The Hop Leaf came close on many occasion and on the final whistle were magnanimous in defeat, it was just one of those days.
Written by Wayne Parrott