The 12th Man – Titans Match Report

February 17, 2022

Result : DRAW 3-3 vs Reading Redsox

Match Report : Jatin Patel

A 3pm pushback away at Reading would rarely be top of anyone’s favourite list but 13 gallant Titans made the trip and had the good fortune to watch an excellent Reading Ladies 1 team put an Exeter team to the sword on the show pitch. Missing several regulars through Covid concerns and other assorted excuses the Titans took to the field with El Capitan’s words of encouragement uppermost in our minds.

The early exchanges were fairly even, we happen to use both channels, Left & Right (Yes the left side!). The very 1st chance was created by Titans when an aerial from Howard found Jatin running onto goal to face an oncoming keeper and unselfishly decided to thread a measured pass to the far post for Jez (The Flash) running to meet it only to slip at the last moment otherwise that would have been the goal of the game! It wasn’t long before another opportunity to attack down our favourite right channel by Laurence who cut back to Jatin in the D and with some trademark dazzling skills beat the closest defender and drew the keeper out to nutmeg him only for the ball to hit the inside of the pads which happened to roll kindly towards Greg for the simplest of touches for the opener.

We held Reading back with some sound defending from the back line of Duncan, Biffi, Howard & Tim. Justin was at hand (and Pad) for anything that came his way (and there were quite a few chances for Reading in the 1st half), Howard put his aerials into good use to get us out of pressure. Tireless running from Wiz helped us link up with the front, and we were able to get the ball high up-front numerous times. The formation worked well for us.

Now those who have played Reading before know quite well that they are capable of upping their game and started launching attack after attack and were rewarded with a number of penalty corners and it was from one of these that the equaliser came. 1-1. Still a long way to go!

Half time came, discussions were had, simple message, we go again!! Titans continued to threaten on the break and a beautiful deflection by Wolfie from a perfect pass outside the D from Biffi put the Titans ahead again. The score stayed at 2-1 through half time and into the final quarter.

It was fair to say that we had a few good chances to come away with a famous win at Reading. It was good to see the left channel used more often and hope this can continue longer with the use of aerials that helped us bypass the press namely one where Joergen found Big Hands on goal one-on-one but their keeper came out very quick to the top of the D to put him off. Another opportunity on the left saw Joergen trying to lob the oncoming keeper in the D only to hit the top of the net. We kept pressing. The opportunity was there for the taking.

With the short corner count at least 6 to 0 in Reading’s favour, the defence stood strong until a bizarre intervention by the umpire (12th man). Foul committed on the sideline, Titans player who was shoved to the fence, tried to get back to defend, BUT the Umpire decides to stop the ball for Reading which was rolling off the pitch so that a quick hit can be taken – Why would he do that? (Something to do with Reading being 2-1 down! Error No. 1), Titan player then cleanly tackled the incoming threat, hit Reading foot in the process, No foul given, the resultant goal (2-2) was allowed to stand in the face of loud protestations including from one of the Reading players on the side of the pitch (Error No. 2).

Such an injustice clearly unsettled several players and a third goal quickly followed for Reading. With the umpires indicating two minutes left (AFCON timing 😊) we just had to push for an equaliser and boy did it come in style, a mazy run by the captain earned us our 1st SC of the game and it was converted in a magnificent fashion by a rocket of a strike by captain Jatin, it flew in the corner and that meant the honours were shared.

It felt like a win!!

Southgate Hockey Club. Great fun, great hockey, great facilities.