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Holloway Hockey Men’s 1sts struggle in high scoring draw with Reading 2nds

Despite the fact that once more, Holloway found themselves deep in their own half for the first few minutes, they then started to improve, and it was just reward when the first goal came for them. From a short corner, the initial shot was blocked by the keeper, but it simply fell at the stick of Drew Lees, who scored his second goal for Holloway just a week after his first by flicking the ball into the opposite corner.

Unfortunately, the side were unable to press home this advantage before Reading replied with their first. A loss of concentration at the back enabled a break by their centre forward, some more missed tackles and a failure to properly close him down gave him the space he needed to shoot, and it ended up in the bottom right hand corner of the goal. With the equaliser coming within just a few minutes of Holloway’s goal, it was an instant setback.

To the credit of Holloway, they didn’t let it get to them and responded positively adding the second goal of the afternoon, when a well worked build up down the left hand side lead to a cross coming into Ed Gallagher, who pulled off a very well executed shot on the turn, once more restoring the lead. 

In spite of pulling ahead for the second time, the see-saw nature of the afternoon continued when Holloway conceded their second goal. This time it was a short corner, the first that had been conceded by the team this year. A solid strike from the top of the ‘D’ went to the bottom left but a lapse of concentrating in defending and goalkeeping allowed it free travel into the goal.

The game continued to sway from side to side in a drunken manner when Holloway’s third goal went in and their lead was once more regained. Another well worked short corner routine left Barney Knights Johnson in space, and his hard flat shot ended up in the back of the net.

Somewhat predictably, however unfortunate it may have seemed, Reading managed to equalise before the end of the half. Once more Holloway defence struggled to cope with an attacking set piece, this one a hit from just outside the top of the ‘D’, and the defence were unable to stop the ball before their striker got a touch on it, deflecting it into the net.

Clearly, the flood of goals from the first half would have to be tamed, a feeling clearly felt by both Reading and Holloway, as the first fifteen minutes of the second half were largely played in the middle of the pitch, with very few if any opportunities occurring as either end. What Holloway were finding frustrating however was the lack of communication, not just in defence which had already lead to a leaking of goals, but also up front. Opportunities were being made but not converted because of the lack of calling between the midfield and the forwards. Clear cut passes were not being picked out because there hadn’t been a clear call made, and this limited what Holloway could have done at the beginning of the half.

It was Reading who broke the relative calm with about fifteen minutes of the match remaining, forcing a goal from open play that came as a result of disastrous marking and snail like reactions from the goalkeeper. This really put the team behind for the first time in the game, and the next ten minutes or so were spent trying to force the final goal, which mercifully came courtesy of another short corner just a few minutes before the final whistle. This time a one-two passing routine between Will Stock and Drew Lees resulted in a shot that hit the post, from which Laurens Noten comfortable slotted in his third goal of the season.

So whilst Holloway managed to leave Reading with a point, there was an underlying disappointment that the team had not picked up more than the one point. Whilst scoring four goals was an achievement, there was a feeling it could have been more, but perhaps most crucially the defence will have to improve considerably before the next match at home to Sussex 1’s on the 12th November.

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