On a bright and windy Saturday morning, the Hotspurs faithful made their way down to Thatcham to witness if not a battle of the sexes then a contest between skill and brawn but not as one would have expected.
Fielding a depleted and injury ridden team, the Hotspurs held their own against a physically strong and professional Reading Girls team. The then as yet unbeaten Hotspurs were challenged from the first whistle by a tsunami of attack by the opposing team.
For the first half of the 1st quarter, the Reading Girls pushed forward challenging the skills of the Hotspurs’ keeper, Ben Palmer. The usually vocal keeper became ever more animated throughout the game as the Reading Girls challenged the Hotspurs’ defence. Eventually a chink was found in the Hotspurs’ armour and a strike from the opposition, trickled in under the poor keeper’s body.
Despite the pressure from Reading, the Hotspurs made good runs themselves and skilful passing and tenacity resulted in a fine goal from Striker Dexter Harris in the second quarter. At this point the Hotspur boys could have played for a draw against a stronger than expected side but this was not their style.
Backwards and forwards the play went, the Hotspurs defence of captain Tom Francis and Freddie Piasecki repeatedly frustrated strong runs by the Reading team. Special mention must go to the clinical sliding tackles of Stanley Massie. Sliding like a penguin on ice, Massie time and time again took the wind out of the sails of Reading attacks whilst at the same time giving his mother a headache with all the mud on his kit!
At the other end of the pitch, the strike force of Dexter Harris and Jake Williams gave the Reading Girls a run for their money. Light touches created opportunities but not enough powerful shots.
Unfortunately towards the end of the second quarter one the Reading girls strikers managed to slot a goal past the solitary Hotspurs’ keeper.
Determined runs down the left wing by the Hotspurs resident terrier, Daniel Tsoi kept the boys in the game in the third quarter. Using his pace and FIFA honed skills, the left footed player was time and time again involved in dogfights with multiple combatants. Never giving up even when the ball was seemingly lost.
The defiance of the Hotspurs team eventually resulted in a classic Dexter Harris lightning quick break resulting in a hard won equalising strike. However a few minutes later despite a renewed push by the Hotspurs’ defence and midfield, exhaustion and the lack of substitutes resulted in the Reading Girls’ offence once again asked questions of the Hotspurs’ defence which was answered in what turned out to be the winning Reading Girls’ goal and Hotspurs keeper Ben Palmer shouting where were his defenders?