The first game with a group of new players is always difficult. The 2016 edition of Reading United A.C. first came together Monday and only managed two training sessions before being thrown into game action Wednesday night. The Atlanta Silverbacks came to town for the U.S. Open Cup Round 1 game at Gurski Stadium in West Lawn, PA.
The game started out on the sloppy side, as each team missed passes and made mistakes. Numerous yellow cards were issued on both sides, and tempers flared on occasion. Throughout it all the Reading players kept their cool and stayed disciplined, which eventually paid off in the 31st minute on a goal by Khori Bennett off a corner kick from French import William Picoux. The Silverback players appeared flustered after the score, as they could often be heard arguing with each other for the rest of the first half. This almost allowed Reading to tack on a second score around the 43rd minute as Frantdzy Pierrot found himself alone in front of the goal but his shot sailed over the net.
Atlanta seemed to regroup during the halftime break and in the early stages of the second half they applied heavy pressure to the Reading defense. Anchored by Will Campbell and Billy McConnell, both Union Academy products, the Silverback attacks were turned back time and time again.
In the 86th minute, Reading clinched the game when Pierrot was left alone on the far post and Ismael Noumansana sent a perfectly placed cross to his feet. Reading found itself up 2-0 as time was winding down. After the score Pierrot stayed down for a few minutes, suffering from apparent cramps on the cloudy and damp night in Berks County.
Sensing the urgency of defeat Atlanta started pressing and applying pressure,but it was not meant to be for the visitors as first year coach Stephen Hogan gained his first victory for Reading. The U.S. Open Cup continues May 18th as Reading travels to Tennessee to face Chattanooga FC of the NPSL in the second round.
Reading also opens its PDL season on Sunday as part of a doubleheader at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, PA. In the opener Reading United A.C. faces Lehigh Valley United and former head coach David Castellanos at noon. In the second game the Bethlehem Steel FC faces FC Montreal later in the day.