Reading United AC lose PDL National Championship, fall short to Calgary Foothills FC 4-2

In a marathon of a match where there were six goals, two red cards, and a lot of physical play, Reading United AC lose PDL Championship to Calgary Foothills FC. The 120 minute match ended 4-2 in favor of Calgary after two goals in extra time. 

Reading United AC hold their heads high as they receive their PDL Championship Runners Up Trophy. Mandatory Credit Reading United AC.

The stage was set at Gurski Stadium for the Professional Development League (PDL) National Championship. If you’re new to PDL and how it works, take a look at my preview of this match to understand how these teams got to this point. Reading United won PDL’s Eastern conference playoffs, and won their PDL National Playoffs semifinal; Calgary Foothills FC won PDL’s Western conference playoff, and won their PDL National Playoffs semifinal. This matchup featured two teams with a total of one loss between the two of them. Reading united were trying to complete an undefeated season! Alas it was not to be. Here’s a look at how this highly entertaining match went down.

1st Half:

As the game started, Reading United AC showed their ability to combine well. The main issue was when they lost possession. Calgary Foothills FC hit Reading on the counter attack early and often. They were able to create many dangerous chances this way. After a few dispossessions, Reading United AC resorted to fouling Calgary to stop their counter. This proved costly in the 12th minute.

Calgary won a free kick just outside the box and Ali Musse curled a shot over Reading’s wall and into the net. After the goal Reading United seemed to be more organized when they lost possession. They stopped lunging into their tackles, and played more to contain the counter. This led Reading United AC to have more confidence moving forward.

As the half went on the combination play from Reading got better and better. Captain, and central midfielder Aaron Molloy controlled the pitch. He helped Reading find areas to play around Calgary’s swarming defense. Foothills FC started to get frustrated by this at the end pf the half. A foul was committed just outside the Calgary box, and captain Molloy stood over the ball.

Molloy assessed the wall and the keeper. The referee blew his whistle, and Molloy approached the ball. He struck it well. The ball curled easily over the wall, but it looked like it may sail over the bar. As the ball continued to move it started to dip. The ball fell past the outstretched arm of the keeper, kissing the underside of the crossbar to tie the game. That proved to be a huge goal, as it was the last kick of the first half.

2nd Half:

In the second half the intensity ramped up to another level. Both sides created chances to find goals, but neither had the clinical finishing touch. After a host of substitutions by both sides Reading United found their breakthrough. Fresh sub Kieren Roberts came on for Reading in the 78th minute, and found the back of the net in the 79th. He headed a chance home to give Reading United AC the 2-1 lead with 10 minutes to play.

Literally a minute later Reading United defender Kamal Miller went into a challenge dangerously. This resulted in his second yellow, and meant Reading would be down a man for the rest of the match. This man advantage for Calgary helped them find more space in their final third. In the 85th minute, Calgary found the equalizer, and looked to be on the front foot to get the win. Luckily for Reading they couldn’t find a winner; even more luckily for reading, A late sliding challenge by Calgary helped leveled the playing field. The match went to two 15 minute halves of extra time, with both teams playing with 10 men.

Extra Time:

In extra time both teams tired, and the lack of a man per side made for a lot of space to move forward. A crazy physical first 15 minutes saw both sides stay level at two goals a piece.

As the match entered the last 10 minutes of extra time both team’s were very fatigued. A Reading United player Pierre Reedy went down with an injury and could not continue in the match. Since Reading had used all of their subs they had to play the last seven minutes with nine men.

This was the turning point of extra time. The extra man created even more space to attack the Reading wings. Five minutes after Reading went down to nine men, Calgary found the go ahead goal after a great run down the wing turned into a cutting run into the box. A perfectly precise shot buried Reading United giving Calgary the lead. There was still hope as the match had four minutes of stoppage time. That hope was short-lived as another well worked gaol went Calgary’s way. The final whistle blew, and Calgary Foothills FC won the PDL National Championship!

Reading United AC can hold their head’s high:

This result does truly suck for Reading United. They were on the brink of an undefeated season and fell short in the dying minutes. However, this is nothing to feel badly about. Last season Reading United AC barely made the playoffs and lost their first match of the of the 2017 playoffs. This year they only lost the championship game. While that will sting for quite some time, these young players will have a great learning experience to take with them as they develop into professional soccer players. Their head coach Alan McCann won coach of the year, and their captain Aaron Molloy is the top prospect in PDL. This team could come back next season and be even better; and more importantly, they are in a great position to develop players into future greats.

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Mandatory Credit: Reading United AC.

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