Sunday, 17 July 2016

Highmoor IBIS 2 v 1 Badshot Lea

Saturday 16th July 2016
Pre-season Friendly
Scours Lane, Reading
Admission: £3.00
Programme: None
Attendance: 30 (estimate)
Match Rating: 2

Following my lunchtime game at Thatcham, I made my way back to Reading to tick off another ground in the Hellenic League. Yet another delayed train threatened to result in my missing the kick-off here, but fast walking and the referee convenintly starting this match a few minutes late meant I arrived just in time for kick-off.

Although Reading West is about half the distance from Scours Lane, it has a much less frequent service than Reading station has, and so I chose to have a very pleasant 45 minute brisk walk along the River Thames to get to the ground. Scours Lane used to be the home ground of Reading Town until they were abruptly closed down in February, and all of the signage in and around the ground still refers to Reading Town (apart from the recently re-decorated interior of the clubhouse). Today would be first game that Highmoor IBIS play here, and all of their home games from now on. Spectators enter through a turnstile block in one conrer, and once inside, one finds ground that, understandably is a little rough around the edges at the moment, and it is quite strange that, from one side, the view is harsh on the eye, with an ugly perimeter wall topped with barbed wire, and an industrial background with rail overhead wires behind. Yet from the other side the view is pleasantly rural, with colourful trees and hills in the background. Behind the goal where spectators enter is a covered stand with a couple of terrace steps as well as a small amount of seating. The clubhouse is situated in one corner set some way back from the pitch, with the changing rooms in brick buildings in the far corner. Cover is provided either side of the half way line, on one side a small and rather rudimentary roof covering terrace steps, and on the other side is a more modern and neat metallic all-seater stand. Hard standing is available around the rest of the ground. No programme was produced today.

Highmoor IBIS finished last season in 11th place in the Hellenic League Premier Division, with 53 points from their 38 league games. In the parallel Combined Counties League Premier Division, Badshot Lea finished in 17th place in the 22 team division.

With conditions still feeling very warm, Highmoor always had the edge in this game, and were given a massive helping hand with scoring the first goal on 3 minutes. The ball was pumped high forward into the area and it seemed to be a simple catch for the keeper with no-one near him, but he allowed the ball to bounce just over him and towards goal, and a desperate clearance by a covering defender ricocheted into the striker Mo Davies and the ball ended up in the back of the net. Both teams came close to scoring next, but it was the visitors who got back on level terms on 34 minutes, when their striker connected with a low ball forward with a first time shot across the keeper and into the net.

Into the second half and Highmoor went back into the lead on 49 minutes. The ball was passed through the defence and Jamie Piercey guided the ball under the keeper and into the net. The second half was competitive and quite even, Highmoor always looking to have the more quality but it was Badshot Lea who twice hit the woodwork, on 59 minutes from a free kick and a minute from time, from a header from a corner.

Credit to both clubs for a competitive friendly match played in very warm and sticky conditions, and hopefully Highmoor IBIS will be able to make Scours Lane much more like their home with some tidying up around the ground. Badshot Lea's defence will be a concern based on today's performance, but otherwise had a useful workout.

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