The 3rd round of the BUCS brought a mouthwatering tie between the flagship footballing sides of Imperial and Reading University. With both ties securing promising results in BUCS it was set to be hard fought game.
Reading, currently 4th in BUCS South Eastern 2A were the favourites against the 2nd placed team in 3A. This showed with Reading early on controlling possession making Imperial chase shadows. Imperial kept their shape and discipline and were able to contain the opposition until the 30 minute mark where a loose ball in midfield initiated a Reading counter-attack and clinically making use of their 3 against 2 advantage to open the deadlock. Imperial responded strongly and created a number of half chances after forging runs from central midfielder, David Hayes.
A disallowed goal by Leslie for a debatable foul at the edge of the box prevented Imperial from drawing level at the 35 minute mark and two minutes later Reading doubled their lead after a through ball from the Reading captain split the Imperial defence and made the strikers job of finishing easy. It was 3-nil before halftime after a speculative set peice fortunately found the head of the Reading winger.
A halftime team talk by captain Mustapher Botchway and the experienced members of Patrick McMullen and Thomas Fryatt rallied the troops to continue their committment and work rate and get an early goal to pressurise Reading. Three minutes into the half Imperial scored a well deserved goal after the a teasing cross by William Swain met Theocharis Tofis who calmly slotted it into the near post of the Reading goalkeeper.
With the momentum now with Imperial, further half chances were created, and nullified by the presence of the Reading goalkeeper.
Reading gradually regained possession and after a few lukewarm opportunities, they restored their 3-goal advantage in a manner similar to that of the first goal. Imperial were again caught out in the middle and the Reading striker worked well to drag the centre backs out of their position to and was rewarded with a well-taken finish.
Imperial didn’t give up and again created some chances with dynamic play from Matthieu Vallin and Nathan Ferrol, to no avail.
Reading completed their scoring with another counter attack, taking advantage of the fatigue of the outfield players and us the wings to stretch Imperial and then deliver a low cross which was met by the Reading striker.
The game was played out and the game ended 5-1 to the favourites. Cup matches often yield surprises but unfortunately it wasn’t to be for Imperial who were against a team who scored 5 of the 6 chances they created. If Imperial are to rise up a notch and secure promotion into Reading’s league, the discipline and concentration will need to improve over the 90 minutes, as will clinical ability of all members of the team.
A surprise did occur on the adjacent pitch in another 3rd round BUCS cup tie between Imperial’s 2nd XI and LSE’s 3rd XI. Questions were raised after a number of LSE players emerged on the pitch with ‘1st/2nd team’ emblazoned on their tracksuits. Imperial went on to lose 2-1 and diminished the hopes of Imperial being represented in the last 16 of the cup.
The 1st XI nevertheless move on, and concentrate on aiming for promotion in the BUCS league and aiming for the final in the ULU Challenge Cup, with a promising quarter final against an as-yet-unbeaten SOAS side tomorrow.