Reading United: Match Reports

Win puts Reading back on track

Photo: Courtesy of Glenn Riegel/Reading United

Reading United beat the heat and the Bermuda Hogges on a sizzling hot Friday night at Albright College’s Shirk Stadium by a 4-0 scoreline.

The return to winning ways was punctuated by a strong effort that produced three second half goals and a shutout. Deshorn Brown found the back of the net twice and Stephen Okai struck a stunning free kick goal to go with assists on each of Brown’s goals. Emmanuel Martin was solid in goal and earned his fourth clean sheet of the season.

By shaking off a three game winless streak, United regained some much need confidence at a crucial point ahead of the remaining five fixtures. Reading are now just three points behind Jersey with a game in hand and very well placed as they look to overhaul both the Express and Ocean City FC to claim the Mid Atlantic Division title.

First Half

The temperature at kickoff was a balmy 97 degrees, but that was nothing compared to the heat the United players and staff felt with the the PDL season hitting the home stretch.

With head Coach Brendan Burke in Houston with the Philadelphia Union as their new assistant coach under John Hackworth, Reading Technical Director and former US Men’s National Team player Troy Snyder stepped in as head coach. Snyder stated he was “expecting a little bit more urgency in the beginning,” and  his players were again very active in creating chances against a Bermuda defense that had yielded just over three goals per road match.

But, as with the last three matches, United could not turn their early chances into goals. Pedro Ribeiro and Deshorn Brown continued to work well together in the attack, each creating opportunities for the other. Emmanuel Martin was called into action throughout the first half and made four excellent saves to deny Bermuda.

As the first half wore on, United appeared sluggish and out of sorts. Passes became more sloppy as United pressed for the opener. Players took extra touches searching for the perfect shot, only to be dispossessed by a Hogges defender.

With frustration clearly written on the faces of United’s players, University of Mobile midfielder Stephen Okai kick started the United offense. Okai drove into the Bermuda penalty area in the 42nd minute and sent an inch perfect cross to the foot of his college teammate Deshorn Brown who finished well to put United in the lead, 1-0. The goal seemed to come from nothing and stunned the Hogges heading into the half.

Second Half

Coming out at the half, United pressured looking for a second goal.

Okai almost created a goal for himself three minutes into the second half, when he used a nifty cutback to strand his marker and fired on Bermuda keeper Tahj Bell. Bell did well to parry Okai’s effort but the rebound fell to the feet of United midfielder Ian Christianson. Christianson’s blast cleared the crossbar and Bermuda was momentarily off the hook. Seconds later, Okai when again spotted Brown at the top of the Bermuda penalty area, his pass allowed Brown to shake off his defender and calmly chip the helpless Hogge’s netminder to make it 2-0.

Brown’s brace, his second of the season, puts him on seven goals in an impressive 2012 campaign.

With United in the ascendancy, Bermuda sat back allowing Reading to control the match and continue the search for goals. Ribeiro had an impressive evening, creating quality scoring chances for his teammates on numerous occasions and he was unlucky not to make it on the scoresheet.

Bermuda began to wilt under United’s relentless pressure and in 72nd minute one of Bermuda’s central defenders handled the ball just outside the penalty area. Stephen Okai stepped up to take the free kick, and he buried his effort for United’s third tally of the evening. The spot kick was a thing of beauty as Okai beat the Bermuda wall leaving Tahj Bell powerless to stop the shot destined for the upper 90, a true highlight reel goal.

As tentative as Reading United played in the first half, the second 45 was the polar opposite. United played the final 45 minutes with a controlled aggression and Bermuda never looked capable of mounting a comeback once they had fallen behind by two goals.

The final scoreline was written in the 84th minute when Christianson peppered Bell with three shots before finally finding the back of the net to make it 4-0 United.

It  was an emphatic result and for Reading a much needed boost of confidence. After the match players mingled with some of the 416 fans in attendance and back slapping, high fives, bro hugs and smiling faces once again returned to the Shirk Stadium sidelines.

Asked for his thoughts on the match, Pedro Ribeiro said, “It was a good game, we’re back on track, we’ve got a game on Sunday, and we’re going to try to get another win, and score more goals. We’ve been struggling scoring, today we scored four good goals.”

Coach Snyder echoed the sentiments of his Brazilian forward when he said, “It was good to see us put in four in the back of the net and hopefully we can build on that for Sunday.”

Scoring Summary

Reading United

42′:  Deshorn Brown  (Stephen Okai)

49′:   Deshorn Brown (Stephen Okai)

73′:   Stephen Okai

84′:   Ian Christianson


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