Saturday, June 15, 2013
READING, Pa. – In a match that lived up to the week-long build-up, Reading United and the Ocean City Nor’easters entertained the large crowd at Don Thomas Stadium in a thrilling 1-1 draw on Saturday night. The Mid Atlantic Division rivals put on a clinical display of attacking soccer, solid defending and clutch goalkeeping. Ocean City’s Anthony Asante staked the Nor’Easters to a lead at the half, but United substitute Jason Plumhoff buried a headed goal in the 86th minute to help rescue a draw for the home side.
Ocean City was on the front foot from the opening whistle, with Asante nearly slipping in on goal in the first minute of the match. United handled the early pressure and began to settle, controling possession for broad spells of the first half. John McCarthy and his Ocean City counterpart, Brian Billings, each made several clutch saves to keep the game scoreless.
As the first half entered stoppage time, United found themselves on a counterattack into the Ocean City end of the field. A poor pass to switch the field was picked off by the Nor’easters defense. Racing down the middle of the field, Asante picked up a ball as miscommunication along the United defense allowed the speedy forward to stay onside. With just McCarthy to beat, Asante chipped the ball into the net seconds before referee Ian Bongaardt blew for halftime.
It was a sucker punch to United and their fans. Recognizing his team had played well in first half, Reading Head Coach Brendan Burke said, “that goal was totally against the run of play. We got a numbers up situation wrong and we got counter-attacked.” Burke continued, “They have very good athletes across the front three, and that’s how they get a lot of their goals.”
With United in search of an equalizer, the second half was an exciting mix of fluid attacking soccer and moments of defensive brilliance. Back from his week of training with Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, Reading captain Steve Neumann led United’s fight for a tying goal. Neumann led several brilliant build-up moves that were just lacking the final, decisive pass that would have opened up the Ocean City back line.
It was nearly disaster for United in the 64th minute, when McCarthy let a Nor’easters corner go through his hands and drop near the goal line. A heads up play by Fatai Alashe got the ball out of danger and kept Ocean City’s advantage a just one goal.
Burke used his final substitution to get United’s top scorer Jason Plumhoff (9 points from 2 goals and 5 assists) into the match. After a wild scramble occurred in Ocean City penalty area, Shane Campbell lofted a ball across the front of the Ocean City goal. Plumhoff rose up and headed the ball past Billings to level the score at 1-1. Plumhoff credited the great ball from Campbell.
“It was great service and I just rose up and put it in the corner and equalized,” Plumhoff said.
With the match level, each side went in search of a winning goal. After making his 10th save of the night, McCarthy started a Reading United attack with a long throw out of the back. United quickly transitioned and the ball fell to Mario Pinto, who had a clean look at goal. The Brazilian forward hit a stinging volley that Billings did well to save to preserve the 1-1 draw.
“I’m proud that our boys kept playing soccer, kept playing out of tight spaces, kept playing through the windows, kept playing fast and kept the right tempo," Burke said. "I’m really pleased with our team’s performance. The scoreline aside, I’m really pleased with the way we approached the game.”
Based on the night’s performance, Burke sees good things ahead for his team. “If we continue to play that way, at that level, we’re going to win games.”
Reading United hit the road for two matches before returning to Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium on Sunday, June 30th for an important divisional match against the Jersey Express. Tickets are available at www.readingunitedac.com. Reading United offer 2013 Game Day Youth Packages, Group Discount Packages, Birthday Parties and Fundraising Ticket Packages. Contact Denise Strohmayr at firstname.lastname@example.org for all your group needs.