Slim Sky Sports pickings of Premier League also rans Arsenal and Man Utd facing off on a Monday night meant that I rather more fancied a trip to The Rivermoor on Reading’s iconic purple 17 Bus for a Bluefin Sports Hellenic League Cup tie. My best decision of the season so far.
Purple bus. Purple rain. Lots of it, as Hurricane ‘Matt’ Lorenzo promises to impose on our week in similar fashion to how its smarmy namesake imposed on our mid-90s Endsleigh Insurance League Sunday afternoon ITV offerings. Purple Pain. I was struck by a stray ball in the pre-match kick-in. The precipitation hid my tears (not pictured).
A slow start on a Rivermoor surface which held up superbly given the deluge gave no clue as to the goals that were ultimately to rain down on us. Premier division Reading City led Division One East Holyport by the twentieth minute as McKoy Palmer started the net-bulging ball-rolling and thoughts of a Cupset seemed as distant as the British summer when Steve Lee nodded home at the end of a corner, a goal I almost missed while retrieving a matchball from some nettles.
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Andy Forisky finished well for the ‘Port by way of immediate response but when another corner for the Citizens resulted in the softest of goals, credited to Stubbs-Alleyne, the idea of being sat next to a roaring fire watching Granit Xhaka suddenly appealed. But if the second half conditions upgraded from ‘torrential’ to ‘Biblical’ the footballing forecast promised ‘showers of goals, initially sweeping in from the East of the County’. A penalty awarded for handball saw the visitors reduce the arrears and a genuine stonker of a strike tied the game up by the hour.
When Forisky slotted home at the far post after good work by Steven Deverall with barely fifteen minutes to play, the ‘Port were in dreamland but City had other ideas and the storm blew over inside the final ten minutes. Palmer finished well at the end of a fine team move and a matter of minutes later completed his hat-trick with the goal of the night, all his own work this time. It never rains but it poured for poor old ‘Port.
Credit to both teams for some excellent football in a match which was played in fine spirit. Props to City on their durable playing surface, to underdogs Holyport on their never-say-die spirit and to circa 40 spectators for turning their back on what the unenlightened might suggest were superior alternative attractions.