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Caversham 1 Tilehurst Panthers 4
Tilehurst Panthers won 4-1 in an important top of the table battle with local rivals Caversham in the Thames Valley Counties League Division One.
Three second half goals helped third placed Panthers move to within four points of their opponents, with four matches in hand, as both chase league leaders Abbey Rangers. The contest was notable for fierce commitment and goals from distance on a gloriously warm and sunny afternoon at Emmer Green.
Panthers started the better and were soon testing the Caversham defence with quick breaks from midfield. Only wayward shooting and brave goalkeeping by Nina Merritt, who had an excellent match, kept the scoreline blank until the 17th minute when Crystal Carrington scored the opener with a rocket of a shot from the edge of the area.
Caversham responded well and levelled on 24 minutes with an equally impressive strike from Freya Jenkins, breaking clear on the left and firing home from the edge of the area.
The same player nearly put the hosts in front with a well struck free kick from wide right which which floated just over. Sunayah Zayadi also caused the Tilehurst defence problems as the match became an even contest up to the break.
Panthers retook the lead early in the second half. After Merritt had initially denied Deanna Cane with a fine save, a second effort from a tight angle found the net. Zayadi nearly equalised with a powerful half volley from a corner soon after and the contest remained in the balance until late on.
The third and decisive Panthers goal on 78 minutes came from a free kick 30 yards out. Ellen Oliver's initial effort was well blocked by the wall but an instant strike from the rebound flew in past Merritt. The final goal from Sam Thoreau came in the 86th minute and was another low precise shot from distance and a tight angle.
The margin of defeat was harsh on Caversham after a well contested match. The home team are only in their second season in contrast to their more established opponents and both teams put on a good advert for the Thames Valley Counties League.
Nina Merritt, Sophie Ali, Lauren Borlace, Mia Edwards, Charis Spearing, Clemence Ali, Sophie Wicks, Freya Jenkins, Tiffany Newland, Somayah Zayadi, Isabel Davis. Subs: Jodie Hayden, Bronwyn Vermaat, Charlotte Clarke.
Ria Walsh, Lauryn Abery, Deanna Cane, Crystal Carrington, Malacia Charles, Lisa Downes, Charmaine Hughes-Boyne, Ellen Oliver, Kim Rushton, Sam Thoreau, Charlotte Wheeler. Sub: Charlotte Wells-Mawdsley, Courtney Hughes-Boyne.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Crystal Carrington clears away from Sophie Ali
(middle) Charlotte Wheeler under pressure from Sophie Ali
(bottom) Ellen Oliver and Lauren Borlace have eyes fixed on the ball
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