Hype Train FC played our seventh competitive game of the 2020/21 as began our Sunday League journey with a first outing in the Reading Sunday Social League - the league that we co-created with Caversham United - with the team making the short trip to take on Woodley Saints FC. Read the match report from our visit to Berks County Sports Club. All aboard.
Match Report: Woodley Saints vs. Hype Train FC:
Date: Sunday 11th April 2021
Competition: Reading Sunday Social League (Game 1)
Opposition: Woodley Saints FC
Location: Berkshire County Sports Club, Sonning Lane, Sonning, Reading, RG4 6ST
Final Score: Woodley Saints 2-1 Hype Train FC
Photographer: Sam Austin (@HypeTrainSam)
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Our maiden Sunday League outing took us to the Berks County Sports Club in Reading to take on Woodley Saints in the RSSL for a 10:30am kick-off, with the game not taking much time at all to wake up.
The first-half ended goalless but it wasn't without incident. Woodley seized the initiative and probed with some early long-rangers before their first real chance saw Jake Holloway in goal springing into a good save after their attacker cut inside the penalty area, but was unable to find a corner. Woodley broke down the channels twice and their left-winger missed a one-on-one with his right-foot that flashed past the far-post to Woodley's frustrations.
Sporting green for the occasion, Phil Newport picked out an advancing Jon Watkins with a pin-point cross, with Watkins's volley from point-blank range saved expertly by Woodley's shot-stopper. Rod Stevens then flashed in a corner that passed every single person and agonisingly across the goal line and out for a goal-kick.
The second-half saw Woodley's pressure pay off, eventually, when the broke the deadlock five minutes after the restart. Stevens initially cleared a Saints corner off the line, with the resulting corner cleared, before deflecting to the path of a man at the edge of the box who played in a low pass for their player, Blue Caswell, to sweep home from eight-yards-out.
Seeking an equaliser, our most likely moment came when Stevens played in a brilliant ball to the back-post, with Woodley's keeper making a second point-blank save to deny Phil Newport's header, with Newport and Sam Bolwell unable to convert the follow-up.
The home side's lead would not be preserved for much longer though as substitute, Walid Zaki, took control of a flighted ball, roamed in-field where his eventual pass was cleared, but only up in the air for Bolwell to head down towards Callum Parr-Jones to hit a rocket of a half-volley into the far-corner of the net, with CPJ netting another wonder goal for the club - his first goal of the campaign too!
Having equalised, a stroke of fortune for the home side gifted them an opportunity to regain the lead as Woodley won a penalty when Stevens controlled in the area and the ball flicked onto his arm (in a natural position). Holloway saved the resulting spot-kick, though the rebound fell back to the same man to net Woodley's eventual winner.
Holloway then made a pair of incredible point-blank saves of his own as we pushed men further up the pitch, whilst we probed with several efforts of our own, though the Saints were able to come away with all three points on opening day in a fiercely contested contest. Well done on the win, Woodley!
Next up, the squad return to Reading Sunday Social League action as we take on Southbank FC at the Ibis Club in Reading on 18th April 2021. We next return to EBFL league action on Saturday's on 24th April 2021.
Man of the Match: Walid Zaki (LM)
A few standout performers were both making their competitive debuts for the club against Woodley and deserve all the praise for their individual efforts. First, Jake Holloway, who appeared in goal in our very first game against Berkshire Dons in a July 2019 friendly encounter, made a competitive start, saving a penalty and making two incredible saves when Woodley broke our defensive lines.
Further up the field, veteran Walid Zaki's contributions off the bench merited our Man of the Match award, with Zaki proving a calming and positive force that was instrumental in our equalising goal.
Thoughts from Player Manager, Robert Austin:
"Having been a sole Saturday League until this year, we co-founded the RSSL this year to give our players more game time and to slowly continue the growth and expansion of our club. It's also a chance to play more locally, something that we weren't afforded in the East Berks Football League, so it was a no-brainer that I reached out to Paul Gutteridge at Caversham and got this unique league started - and having now competed at this level, it is great to see that we've been able to give teams in the local area a breath of fresh competitive air after the Reading & District Sunday League shut its doors for the rest of the season.
Our performance wasn't completely up to scratch, but there were positives. Over the course of two days we showed that can be be defensively compact and hard to break down. Woodley had the lion share of chances in the first-half and their goal was coming to break the deadlock. We did settle for a period and scored a goal worthy of the cameras, only to have fortune go against us in the end. If we had taken some of our clear-cut chances, we would have gotten something out of the game, but it wasn't to be and I can only congratulate Woodley on the win - they're a good team and applied themselves really well on opening day.
We move on and hopefully with lockdown easing my challenge of knitting my team can happen quickly as we have a couple of big months ahead to build on the positives and negatives of our return!"
Hype Train FC: Matchday Squad
GK: Jake Holloway
DEF: Rod Stevens
DEF: Vincent van Lembergen (C)
DEF: Robert Austin
DEF: Jack Roche (Jones 30', Zaki 65')
MID: Jon Watkins (Jones 68', Roche 78')
MID: Sam Bolwell
MID: Jack Reddings (Parr-Jones 60')
MID: Callum Fox-Spence
MID: Joe Sawyer
FOR: Phil Newport
SUB: Walid Zaki
SUB: Owen Jones
SUB: Callum Parr-Jones
Goals & Assists:
Goal 1: Parr-Jones (goal), Bolwell (assist)
Want to know more about The Hype Train?
The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in 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.
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.