Three first-half goals do the damage as Cambridge City are beaten by Reading in Investec Women's Hockey League, Division One South
Cambridge City were undone in the first half as they suffered a 4-2 defeat to Reading in the Investec Women’s Hockey League, Division One South.
The incisive, counter-attacking style of Reading with the wind at their backs helped them establish a 3-0 lead inside the first half-hour.
City mounted a spirited and determined fight back in the final five minutes of the half and then deep into the second period, but a breakaway fourth at the end of the third quarter helped Reading seal their win.
Reading had shown their prowess at moving the ball at speed on the break in the early stages, and broke the deadlock after nine minutes when a ball in the D deflected up, and Abbie Dixon slammed home emphatically.
The visitors doubled their lead five minutes later as Beth Marriott surged into the circle and then struck a low shot past City keeper Polly Oakman.
City started to grow into the game, and tested Reading keeper Sarah Ellis through Lisa Williamson’s drive from just inside the circle and Ellis was again called into action to thwart Heidi Baber.
There was a riposte though, as a slick move from Reading saw them play their way round Oakman for Alys Richards to sweep home at the back post.
As the half went on, City were proving their own potency on the break, and Maddie Axford broke into the circle before passing to Holly Sheahan, who was denied by Ellis.
The half was brought to a close by a smart stop on the line by defender Fran Clemente, blocking Meg Crowson’s effort following a penalty corner.
City started the second half as they finished the first, with Crowson forcing Ellis to save with her feet, with Oakman having had to make a similar stop at the other end.
The deficit was reduced in the 44th minute as a penalty corner went to Crowson, who then slid the ball through to Emily Davies at the back post to sweep in for City.
Minutes later, Axford went on a brilliant weaving run into the D and although her shot was saved by Ellis, Sally Bradley reacted smartly to smash home the rebound on the angle.
Axford almost completed the comeback minutes later, with a shot that went just narrowly wide, but then came the sucker punch.
Reading broke in almost the final play of the third quarter, setting up a three-versus-one and though Dixon’s shot was saved by Oakman, it deflected down onto Sophie Shakespeare’s stick and into the goal, making it 4-2.
It was a bitter blow for City, against the of the second-half play, and gave Reading more breathing space.
Instead of frantically having to defend in numbers, it meant that they were able to exert greater control on the game as City had to try to force matters.
But despite the best efforts of both sides, there were no more goals as Reading completed a season double over City, who had lost the previous match in Berkshire 5-0.
City can take heart from their fightback, and will just be ruing that they gave themselves such a mountain to climb in the first half.
Cambridge City: Polly Oakman, Jessica Greaves, Hannah Bloy, Emily Davies, Vicki Franks, Megan Crowson, Holly Sheahan, Sally Bradley, Miriam Marti-Palet, Lisa Williamson, Heidi Baber, Milly Wych, Jo Saunderson, Maddy Newitt, Maddie Axford, Katie Curtis.
Reading: Sarah Ellis, Megan Jones , Abbie Dixon, Marianne Downer, Emma Thomas, Beth Marriott, Jo Ellis, Keelie Perham, India Shakespeare, Fran Clements, Jennifer Crossley, Catryn Langley, Sophie Shakespeare, Alys Richards, Rachael Peck, Lucie Daman.