Goals from Alex Lancaster, Ashley Lamb (2) and Charlie Lauri were unfortunately not enough to stop Wycombe Wanderers Sports & Education Trust (WWSET) slumping to a 7-4 defeat against their Reading Football Club Community Trust (RFCCT) counterparts under the Adams Park lights last night.
Despite great national and international interest in the game, as well as our close families and friends, the match had to be held behind closed doors due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but a live stream was made available on the WWSET YouTube Channel – an option that nearly 500 people took up!
WWSET lined up in last seasons’ rather fetching change strip of yellow shirts, yellow shorts and yellow socks (and a multitude of different colour boots!) and attacked the Lords Stand end of the ground with the iconic Frank Adams stand to their right, whilst RFCCT lined up in an equally striking orange shirt, black shorts, black socks combo.
The WWSET squad in full: Jason Carr (Head Coach), Clare Bassett (Coach), Lewis Bloom (Captain), Andrew Homent (GK1), Mark Heath (GK2), Kirk Williams, Brian Joseph, Alex Lancaster, Billy Ready, Jack Fowler, Emma Newberry, Rishi Tugnait, Matt Edwards, Ashley Lamb, Tom Khalil, Rob Charman, Charlie Lauri, Mark Fawkes, Tom Baldwin, James Richings and Matt Joy.
Head coach Jason Carr gave an inspirational pre-match team talk, akin to the President in Independence Day, “We shall not go quietly into the night…”, or the famous “The show goes on…” speech from the Wolf of Wall Street in an attempt to send the team out with gusto and a willingness to run through walls for him.
But just 90 seconds into the game, and ignoring the gaffer’s words, WWSET would find themselves 2-0 down, as RFCCT came out of the traps like a greyhound chasing a mechanical hare. Not a huge amount that WWSET goalkeeper Homent or his beleaguered defence could do about either of them – just quality from the Royals.
What was required now was cool heads, to take stock of events, and stop messing up. And this is exactly what happened over the next 20 minutes. WWSET found their feet in the game, defended stoically and even managed to get the ball down and play a bit in the final third.
The tactical game of chess was broken, however, as a rash challenge in the box from Billy Ready gave the Royals a chance to extend their lead from the spot which they did. Alex Lancaster pulled one back for the home side with a sublime set of step overs and a low finish drilled into the bottom corner. But it would prove to be a game of momentum, and the Biscuitmen showed it was still with them as they scored another three quick fire goals.
As Paul Withams, our experienced and esteemed referee, put his whistle to his lips to blow for half time, Reading were in a commanding 5-1 lead.
The sides went back out with only change – Mark Heath replacing Andrew Homent between the sticks – to calls of “It’s still 0-0, heads on”! Heath is an intimidating sight, and one that opposition strikers fear with the fire of a thousand suns and, he would tell you it was because of this, that it was WWSET who started the better side after the restart. The strike from Ashley Lamb to reduce the deficit was beautiful, but not as beautiful as the celebration as he ran into the… ahem… “crowd” and gave the teams a standing ovation.
The introduction of Joseph and the late-arriving Kirk Williamson would add steel to the spine of the WWSET side that was previously a bit mushy. Heath, Baldwin, Lancaster, Richings, Fowler, Newberry, Charman, Fawkes, Joy, Ready… the list of defensive warriors continues.
As the sun started to set and the flood lights came on over the rolling Buckinghamshire hills, the WWSET defence was finally firing on all cylinders, and it was the team in yellow that would score next as Charlie Lauri picked the ball up from right-back Emma Newberry, jinked this way this and that, took it onto his left peg and let fly from some 35 yards. What. A. Hit.
As we passed 80 minutes and some of the more tired legs started to feel the pace, the hosts would concede a neat headed goal at one end and then add a fourth through the intelligent play of Ashley Lamb. His second of the evening. The final goal of the game would go to the visitors, however.
So RFCCT ran out 7-4 winners, but WWSET had the honour of winning the second half 3-2. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!
Despite the result, a very enjoyable game of football under the floodlights which gave us a show to the tune of “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes at full time. A game of football that really showcased the good, the bad and the ugly side of football when played at this level, I think it’s fair to say. There will be some sore legs this morning! Thank you so much to everyone at the Reading Football Club Community Trust for coming, giving us a great game, and playing the game in a tremendous spirit.
A rematch is scheduled for next year at the Madejski Stadium in Reading.