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  • Writer's pictureRobert Austin

EBFL League Cup Match Report (30/09/2023): Real Saracens vs. Hype Train FC

Welcome aboard the home of Hype Train Football Club. Here, you can read the match reports from the train's outing across Saturday & Sunday League action throughout the 2023/24 season, with the team competing in the East Berkshire Football League (EBFL) and the Reading & District Sunday League (RDSL). All aboard.

Match Report: Hype Train FC

Date: Saturday 30th September 2023

Competition: EBFL League Cup (First Round)

Opposition: Real Saracens FC

Location: George Pitcher Memorial Recreation Ground, Britwell Road, Slough, SL1 8DF

Final Score: Real Saracens FC 2-4 Hype Train FC

Photographer: Paige Alexander

Match Report:

The train's encounter against Real Saracens was our 11th competitive match of the 2023/24 season, with the team involved in the East Berkshire Football League's League Cup - our first cup outing in the EBFL since winning the Presidents Cup in a 4-3 thriller against AFC Cressex on 7th May 2022! This was also the first time that we faced Real Saracens, who are a new club in EBFL Division One for the 2023/24 season!

With a little over 5 minutes on the clock, the first goal of the game arrived and started with pressure down the left flank with Leo Pereira and Luke Follington trying to force an opening, before the ball is cleared away. The clearance is retrieved by Mitchell Saunders in the middle of the park who spreads the ball out to Jon Watkins on the right, who took one touch before delivering a deep flighted cross to the far post inside the penalty, where Phil Newport was waiting patiently to score a first-time volley past the Saracens goalkeeper to open the score!

The hosts weren't afraid of committing players forward and drew a top save from Jamie Halsall during the 14th minute, when following a set-piece that was flicked by a Hype Train head towards the byline for a corner, Saracens kept the ball in and flashed a shot at the near-post, which Halsall made a great reactionary save to keep the score level. Saracens then during the 28th minute flashed a shot wide of Halsall's left post, narrowly, when the second ball dropped invitingly for a first-time strike at goal.

An equalising goal would arrive, though in controversial fashion, during the 31st minute. Initially, Saracens moved the ball to the left wing and cut in to take a shot at the edge of the penalty area, which led to the shot being blocked and deflected by Cory McManus that kept the ball spinning around the penalty area. When the shot was taken, Saracens had an attacker who was several yards ahead of our defensive line pick up the ball and put the ball in the net with his big right toe - with the team flagging for a clear offside. The referee, who was supplied by the hosts, didn't want to hear our linesman out, believing that McManus's block meant that the ball had started a new phase of play, when in reality a deflected shot into the path of an attacking player is counted as the same phase by the FA rulebook - either way, it is a clear offside and we were in dismay that this was overturned and the goal stood.

During the 34th minute, another incident threatened to turn the game in a negative way for the team when Saracens put the ball in the net for a second time when their left winger put the ball out of play, clearly, on the left, though pumped the ball forward and a scramble led to an attacking player putting the ball in the net. Had it not been for their own linesman eventually calling for the throw, we'd have been 2-1 down to the most dubiously awarded goals in grassroots football, though the hosts and their supporters were not happy.

Despite these moments, the train were the team more comfortable on the ball and probing more at goal, and during the 43rd minute the game turned in our favour again when route one football from Halsall in goal saw Newport get to the end of the long ball forward, with Newport's shot saved by an encroaching goalkeeper, who after the save left his goal unguarded, allowing Christian Freemantle to slot home the ball into the net for his first competitive goal for the club!

With the lead restored, the team pulled away in the 2nd minute of added time in the first-half in a sequence that started with Robert Austin intercepting the ball off the toes of a Saracens midfielder, before playing the ball to Newport. On the turn, Newport supplied an accurate pass out to Luke Follington on the right wing, who collected well with his chest and upon attempting a cross to Austin at the back post, his connection with the ball ended up going straight over the goalkeeper and into the far-right of the goal - with this also being Follington's first competitive goal for the club!

The second-half didn't slow down a back-and-forth cup outing, with a 5th goal arrived in the 52nd minute, this time for the hosts. As the team switched the play from left to right, Follington put a pass into no man's team for our defenders, with a Saracens attacker picking up the ball and showing some good pace as he has ghosted behind our line and has found the left with a good effort on his left foot to bring hope back into the game for the home side.

Another moment of controversy would then show itself in the 58th minute when Saracens were awarded a dubious penalty. Working the ball down their right channel, a cross was half-cleared away by Tom Dalgarno into the path of Pereira at left back, with the chasing Saracens player and Pereira engaging in a 50-50 shoulder challenge - this led to the Saracens player flopping to the ground in an attempt to win a cheap penalty - with the referee allowing this to happen. The VEO clearly shows a clean shoulder challenge between the two, with the attacking player going down with no engagement from our left back - with the referee claiming in the moment that Pereira had shoved the Saracens player in the back.

With the penalty awarded, the only thing stopping Saracens from an equalising goal was Halsall in goal, with the spot-kick taker shooting low and to his right, with the effort matched by a top save by Halsall in goal, who steers the ball away in what is our goalkeeper's second penalty save of the season!

With several chances for both teams, we had to wait until the 72nd minute to push further ahead in the game, and it happened when an in-swinging corner by Follington was glided towards the back post, tipped only marginally away by the Saracens keeper, but only to Newport who couldn't miss from close range with his head, to take the game to 4-2!

With the team closing up shop, Saracens were denied in the closing minutes of the game by two Halsall saves, and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when the ball flicked up onto Dalgarno's hand inside the penalty area, whilst at the other end of the pitch, Saunders was unfortunate not to net a 7th goal for the club when a shot across goal went agonisingly wide after great footwork to beat several defenders, before the Saracens goalkeeper was forced into a top save when he denied Austin from range. This all meant that with the bare bones squad travelling out to Slough, we have qualified for the second round of the EBFL League Cup!

Next up for the train, we were in cup action on Sunday's as we travelled to AFC Reading in the first round of the RDSL Industrial Cup on Sunday 1st October 2023!

Thoughts from Club Secretary, Robert Austin:

"Our latest outing to Slough was a proper cup encounter, end to end with a lot of chances for both teams. We had such a funny week with availability with a lot of injuries and holiday engagements forcing us to travel out with the bare minimum, so our only objective was to get the win, keep the squad fit until the end of the game, and get out of the game with any manner of victory. Largely, we achieved that objective, and had some first-time scorers too, so it was a good day at the office from a few vantage points.

In terms of our performance as a team, we have had better days, and this was a game to manage to the best of our abilities with a limited squad. Saracens had a fair number of chances, but didn't have a clinical edge, and ultimately had their best chances carved out for them due to the calls made by the referee. For both teams, the ball held up in the grass and would stick to our feet, and it led to the game being easily broken up at times for both teams, so was a game on our end of exercising patience and maintaining our composure against a passionate set of home players.

I think I speak for all current EBFL clubs when I say that the Committee and clubs have to come together, and quickly, to resolve the issues over the lack of referees in the league right now. It is beginning to turn the tide of negativity and clubs and the league need to be protected, so if they need clubs and ourselves to come together, now is that time.

Best of luck in Division One to Saracens, here's hoping you pick up some results as the season kicks on as they aren't where they should be with the bunch of players they have."

Hype Train FC: Matchday Squad

Manager: Robert Austin

Starting 11:

GK: Jamie Halsall

DEF: Jon Watkins

DEF: Robert Austin

DEF: Tom Dalgarno

DEF: Leo Pereira

MID: Luke Follington

MID: Cory McManus

MID: Mitchell Saunders

MID: Emmanuel Boateng

FOR: Phil Newport

FOR: Christian Freemantle

Goals & Assists:

Goal 1: Newport (goal), Watkins (assist)

Goal 2: Freemantle (goal), Newport (assist)

Goal 3: Follington (goal), Newport (assist)

Goal 4: Newport (goal), Follington (assist)

Want to know more about The Hype Train?

The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in general football and Fantasy sports reporting, starting with Fantasy Premier League (FPL), before expanding to MLS Fantasy coverage in 2018.

We pride ourselves in providing beautiful graphics, statistics, in-depth analytical reporting and free weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb rankings tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review games, live sport, and professional wrestling.

In 2019, Hype Train Football Club was formed, becoming the first Fantasy Football website to take to the field. HTFC is a socially active team across social and web channels, providing regular match highlights, match reports, comprehensive player statistics and unique player profiles. We won both Goal of the Season Awards in the Berkshire and County FA regions, with Callum Parr-Jones winning the Berks & Bucks FA award, whilst Martin King won the PlaySport UK award.

In 2021, we formed the Reading Sunday Social League (RSSL), a competitive Sunday League involving 8 teams in its debut season. During the 2021/22 season, we won our first-ever trophy, lifting the East Berkshire Football League's Presidents Cup!

The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog' in 2016 by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), and were again shortlisted as a finalist in 2019 in the 'Best Fantasy Football Blog' category.

You can follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, follow Hype Train FC on Instagram, subscribe to our YouTube channel for exclusive content, visit our club's dedicate website, or visit our website here at

Believe The Hype!


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