Reading Sunday Social League Match Report (23/05/2021): Hype Train FC vs. Thames Valley Railway
Hype Train FC played our 15th competitive game of the 2020/21 as continued our Sunday League journey with a fourth outing in the Reading Sunday Social League - the league that we co-created with Caversham United - with the team making the short trip to play Tilehurst Titans. Read the match report from our game at the Ibis Club in Reading. All aboard.
Match Report: Hype Train FC vs. Thames Valley Railway:
Date: Sunday 23rd May 2021
Competition: Reading Sunday Social League (Game 6)
Opposition: Thames Valley Railway
Location: Calcot Recreation Ground, Reading, Berkshire, RG31 4XD
Final Score: Hype Train FC 3-0 Thames Valley Railway
Photographer: Sam Austin (@HypeTrainSam)
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Our 10:30am kick-off against Thames Valley Railway is likely to be the most train-inspired set of team names in football history, with the Railway visiting the team at Calcot Recreation Ground after one of the pitches at the Ibis fell victim to the bad weather - a week of torrential rain that threatened to cancel all RSSL games that weekend.
We started the strong of the two sides and had several chances to opening the scoring in the first 20 minutes, though were denied by the heroics of Railway keeper, Charlie Smith, to keep the score level. First, Sam Bolwell expertly robbed the ball at the edge of the penalty area and hit the post with a low-drive, with Phil Newport picking up the return ball and rifling an effort from close range which was smothered by Smith. Minutes later, Callum Fox-Spence raced through one-on-one after beating the Thames defensive line, with Smith denying Fox-Spence's well-struck effort.
We were able to take advantage of our positive start in the 23rd minute of the game when a neat passage of play between Rod Stevens, Jon Watkins and Clayton Holloway, ended with Stevens feeding the ball to Watkins at the edge of the penalty area on the right-flank, with Watkins setting before blasting a rocket past Railway's custodian in the far-post to give us the lead.
With Thames looking for their way back into the match, the referee awarded them an indirect free-kick from eight-yards-out after a sliced clearance from Vincent van Lembergen caught the wind and fell into the arms of Jake Holloway, with the team's defensive line doing well to smother and block the resulting set-piece.
It was just after the 30th minute when the visitors had their one and only shot on target in the game, when they broke with a counter-attack following a corner, with the ball cut-back across the penalty area, with Robert Austin blocking the shot from the Railway attacker a few yards out from goal to keep the team in the lead.
The 38th minute then provided some breathing room for the team when a corner by Stevens was flicked on to the left wing, with central defender Martin King collecting the ball, putting it through the legs of an on-rushing Thames defender, before putting a cross at the back-post for Watkins to slide home from the goal line - Watkins second goal in the half!
Heading into the second-half, the tempo of the match slowed and chances were at a premium for both sides, though Thames flashed a long-range effort narrowly wide in the 65th minute. Smith in the Railway goal then kept the score from extending when he got a powerful hand on a well-placed Stevens free-kick from 20-yards-out, diving well to his left to deny our right-back his second goal for the club.
Heading into the final minutes of the game, substitute Walid Zaky danced into the penalty area and was brought down for a penalty kick, with Fox-Spence selflessly subbing himself off so Watkins could complete his hat-trick, with the Number 20 rifling the spot-kick with power to the right of the goal to seal the win!
The win means that we move up to 2nd place in the Reading Sunday Social League with just one game left - a mammoth match between ourselves and Caversham United. Win and we quality for the grand final of the league against either Southbank FC or Woodley Saints FC.
Man of the Match: Jon Watkins (#20)
Earning back-to-back Man of the Match awards for the club, only the third player to achieve this at the club after Rod Stevens and Martin King, Jon Watkins scored his first hat-trick for the club and took his tally to 4 goals in the RSSL - joint-top with Stefan Sukara in the goal charts.
Watkins first goal was an unstoppable strike, whilst his second was put on a plate after fantastic work by King to find Watkins lurking at the back-post, whilst the penalty at the end of the game was emphatic.
There were also impressive performances for the team's three central midfielders - Sam Bolwell, Clayon Holloway and Callum Parr-Jones, as well as attacking outlet Phil Newport, - whilst the defensive unit kept a 5th clean sheet of the season and a second in the RSSL.
Thoughts from Player Manager, Robert Austin:
"Sunday's game against Thames Valley was a very tough, physical encounter for the team. Railway equipped themselves well and were well organised for large periods of the game. Our pitch at Calcot hadn't been cut so it slowed the pace of the game by a small fraction, whilst the wind wasn't helpful to either team in a competitive bout.
The team were well worth the points though and it if wasn't for their goalkeeper, Charlie Smith, we would have scored a few more on the day - hats off to a great performance in between the sticks! We carved out a lot of chances, particularly in the first-half and it was a game to just get the points and move on. We played a lot better in the first-half, whilst we dropped our intensity in the second when a few tired legs were showing, though we did well to limit them to very, very little to preserve our clean sheet.
We now have a huge fixture upcoming against Caversham United in two weeks' time. It's virtually a semi-final for the club. Win and we go into our first cup final. I'm hoping the players see this as a big opportunity to seize, though we aren't getting carried away. We'll be focused over the next few trainings and games so we're ready for the challenge."
Hype Train FC: Matchday Squad
GK: Jake Holloway
DEF: Rod Stevens
DEF: Vincent van Lembergen
DEF: Martin King
DEF: Robert Austin
MID: Jon Watkins (Zaky 75')
MID: Sam Bolwell
MID: Callum Parr-Jones (Paddon 55')
MID: Clayton Holloway
MID: Callum Fox-Spence (Watkins 89')
FOR: Phil Newport (Jones 75')
SUB: Walid Zaky
SUB: Owen Jones
SUB: Sam Paddon
Goals & Assists:
Goal 1: Watkins (goal), Stevens (assist)
Goal 2: Watkins (goal), King (assist)
Goal 3: Watkins (goal), Zaky (assist)
Did You Know?:
- Stefan Sukara and Jon Watkins are currently the top scorers in the RSSL with 4 goals each in the competition.
- We have scored 21 goals in 5 RSSL matches, the highest of any team in the competition.
- Watkins hat-trick was the first treble scored by a player at the club since Leon Mannion netted five goals in a single gam against Barton Rovers in October 2019.
Above: Watch Jon Watkins score the team's first of his three goals, collecting a ball from Rod Stevens before powering past the Railway keeper.
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.