Sevenoaks came into the game against Reading full of confidence following a brilliant team performance against Oxford Hawks the previous weekend. Both sides started the game quickly and looked to gain an early foothold. A slick breakaway after eight minutes saw Reading enter the Sevenoaks circle on the right hand side. A speculative pass across goal from the baseline ricocheted off a Sevenoaks defender and into the back of the net to give the visitors a fortuitous early lead. Sevenoaks tried to pick themselves up but within five minutes the score line became 2-0 as a lapse of concentration at the back allowed a Reading forward to find space in the circle who found the backboard with a low reverse strike.
The game continued at a fast pace in the second quarter and Oaks began to find space against Reading’s man to man press as their rotations started to test the fitness levels of the visitors. Oaks managed to enter the attacking D on several occasions however the final pass let Oaks down. Pressure started to tell as a series of penalty corners were won however Sevenoaks were unable to capitalise on these opportunities.
Sevenoaks went out into the second half determined to turn the game around. Oaks dominated the early phases, pressing Reading high up the pitch and forcing errors. In possession, Oaks remained calm on the ball and looked to stretch the pitch. Further opportunities started to arise with some driving runs forward from the purple midfield however Sevenoaks were still unable to break down the stubborn Reading defence.
Sevenoaks continued the momentum they had gathered since the first quarter and piled on the pressure. Reading occasionally created a breakaway opportunity however these were quickly snuffed out by the Sevenoaks defence. Oaks finally managed to get themselves back into the game when a perfectly executed back hand by Craig Morton found a lurking Ben Selby who deflected the ball into the goal to set up a tense finish to the game. Sevenoaks continued to pile on the pressure, winning penalty corner after penalty corner however they simply couldn’t find the back of the net. The game finished on a further succession of penalty corners but Oaks failed to take their chances and the game finished 2-1 to Reading.
Though disappointing not to capitalise on the opportunities given to them and to come out of the game with at least a point, it was a positive team performance as Oaks dictated and dominated play for the final three quarters of the game. Oaks will look to take the positives into their next fixture away at Teddington on Sunday.
Original report from Chris Barker at Sevenoaks Hockey Club.