For 83 minutes, Reading United was in complete control against their PDL Mid Atlantic Division rivals from New Jersey. In a matter of seven minutes plus four minutes of extra time they saw their 2-0 lead evaporate and turn into a 2-2 draw. Reading was looking to make a statement win against a tough team they will see two more times later this season in New Jersey. Standing on the sidelines, the result felt more like a loss than a draw, which still gives them a point in a tight division race.
Reading United was in control on both sides of the ball from the outset of the match. Their defensive line had not yielded a goal in the two previous league matches as well as in the US Open Cup match in Tennessee. In the 15th minute, Paul Marie notched his third goal of the season off a rebound on a shot by Brett Campbell. The Reading United veteran then returned the favor in the 30th minute when he assisted Campbell on his first goal of the season and Reading appeared in total control.
As the second half began with several Red Bull U23 substitutions, so did the pressure. United head coach Stephen Hogan prepared his team for the Red Bull attack and it was evident in how well the defensive unit held solid. They countered the Red Bulls time after time and saw several scoring opportunities end with saves by Red Bull keeper Eric Klenofsky. One particular opportunity found Reading's Frantzdy Pierrot alone against the visiting keeper only to find his shot bounce off the post.
Finally the United defense relented in the 83rd minute as the Red Bulls notched their first goal on a header from Sevag Kherlopian. The goal ended the 470+ minute shutout streak for the United defense and keeper Steffen Kraus, who made several key saves throughout the match. In stoppage time, the Red Bulls struck again as Arun Basuljevic buried the equalizer .The final whistle blew soon after as the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
Reading returns to action Saturday, June 4th, against their arch rivals, the Ocean City Nor'easters. That game will be played down the shore starting at 7:00 p.m.
On June 12, 2016, the Union Festival comes to town as former head coach Brendan Burke and the Bethlehem Steel take on their fellow Philadelphia Union affiliate in a friendly match. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at Don Thomas Stadium. The Union will also have former Reading players and several other first teamers on site for autographs.
David Musante serves as the team photographer for Reading United A.C. and is owner of Penn Images. He also covers Reading United for The Brotherly Game. Additional match photos can be found at www.PennImages.com/ReadingUnited.