It was a relief to arrive at Cintra Park on a considerably cooler morning than those of the previous days. The hot weather had left its mark: inevitably the pitch was very hard and the ball bounced erratically. A considerably different challenge to the wet and sometimes muddy surfaces encountered in the regular winter season.
The day’s opposition were Whiteknights FC U11s White Foxes, despite the name resplendent in royal blue, a locally based team drawing players from across east Reading.
The Hurricanes started the game in possession, and an early chance for Ed, who hit the post. The White Foxes hit back immediately, though, slicing through the defence and firing home. They were dismayed to see the linesman’s offside signal ruling their well-crafted goal as disallowed.
This near miss stirred the Hurricanes, who surged forward on the right. Shiva passed the ball forward to Oscar, whose cross found today’s captain Will L who headed home.
The Hurricanes were further galvanised by this. The game was increasingly played in the White Foxes’ half, although defenders Dominic and Will G and midfielder Nicholas had to be alert to the White Foxes’ breaking from defence.
The Hurricanes kept up their attack, but the White Foxes’ defence made it difficult to create chances. Oscar and Gabriel both saw shots saved as the White Foxes’ keeper showed he was up to the task.
The second half began with the White Foxes pushing forward, perhaps inspired by the half-time team talk. Jack T, Dominic and Gabriel won the ball. Gabriel’s clean ball forward found Oscar whose perfectly-weighted pass found Will G, who thundered forward and powered the ball into the net.
The game had settled into a rhythm, with the Hurricanes having much of the possession and the White Foxes looking to counter-attack. Jack T cut out one break, hotly pursued by three strikers.
Unusually, two Hurricanes players shared the man-of-the-match award: Nicholas for consistency in the heart of midfield and Gabriel who was in the thick of the action in attack and defence.
Next week sees another visit to Cintra Park for more BYDL action!