READING, PA (May 13, 2017) – Perhaps it was the cool, rainy evening or maybe it was early season jitters, but Reading United shook off a slow start to take a 3-1 victory over in-state rivals Lehigh Valley United at Exeter High School’s Don Thomas Stadium in the Premier Development League season opener. Reading got a first half goal from forward Khori Bennett and added two more in the second half from Frantzdy Pierrot and Aaron Molloy to take home the three points and kick off their defense of the Mid-Atlantic Division title.
Off the back of a 1-0 victory over the Clarkstown Eagles in U.S. Open Cup play, Reading United entered the match full of confidence. The hosts controlled possession and pinged the ball around the pitch through the early minutes of play, but they weren’t able to unlock a resolute Lehigh Valley defense led by veteran goalkeeper Logan Keys.
It was a mistake in possession that led to Reading’s first goal. Frantzdy Pierrot intercepted a pass as Lehigh Valley United tried to build from the back. The big Haitian international laid the ball off to midfielder Hugo Delhommelle who cooly slid the ball to the right to pick out Khori Bennett. Bennett, who netted Reading’s first goal of 2016 season in a match against Lehigh Valley, repeated the feat as he rifled a shot past Key’s for United’s first goal in PDL play this term.
Reading continued to rack up chances, out shooting Lehigh Valley 6-0, but the teams went into halftime with Reading United clinging to a 1-0 advantage.
Coming out of the break, Lehigh Valley pegged Reading back in the 47th minute. Shaquille Stephenson put a cross into the box that found the feet of Chad Poarch, whose shot squirted past Reading goalkeeper Ben Beaury to level the match.
The teams would stay deadlocked for nine minutes before Reading United would take the lead for good. Delhommelle broke through the Lehigh Valley defense and had Keys at his mercy, but the Frenchman squared the ball for Pierrot who cooly finished into a wide open net to push Reading to a 2-1 lead.
The highlight of the match came in the 69th minute when midfielder Aaron Molloy had time and space to unleash a long range blast from nearly 40 yards that beat Keys and dipped under the crossbar to push Reading’s advantage to 3-1.
With confidence growing, Reading United continued to press on for more goals. Molloy tested Keys again from distance in the 70th minute, but this time the Lehigh Valley goalkeeper made a fingertip save to deny the Irish midfielder. Reading would outshoot Lehigh Valley 12-4 in the second half. United closed out the 3-1 victory over their nearest rivals with a combination of good possession and timely defensive intervention.
Reading United Assistant Coach Alan McCann, filling in for Head Coach Stephen Hogan who was away with Bethlehem Steel FC in Toronto, was please with his team’s response after a sluggish first half, saying, “The first half we got a little sloppy, especially the last ten minutes. We spoke about it at halftime and in the second half they went out and did it. We added a few bodies in there that injected a bit of pace and creativity.” He continued by praising the work of the Reading back line, saying, “Huge in defense, they were solid. Their transition, their cover of each other, just overall play in terms of us playing out of the back looked a lot more comfortable, so we’re happy.”
Next up, Reading United will continue their 2017 U.S. Open Cup run with a second round match against the visiting North American Soccer League champions, the New York Cosmos, at Albright College’s Shirk Stadium on Wednesday, May 17th at 7:00pm. All United home matches throughout the 2017 PDL season will be played at Exeter Township Senior High School. Tickets for the all regular season matches are available at www.readingunitedac.com. Contact our ticket sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org for all your group needs.
READING UNITED LINE-UP
Ben Beaury; Rob Campbell, Will Campbell,Emmanuel Chanis, Evan Finnegan; Aaron Molloy, Lamine Conte (Marco Micoletto 57'), Hugo Delhommelle (Mo Adams 71'); Paul Marie (Mo Conde 78'), Khori Bennett (Gilbert Waso 60'), Frantzdy Pierrot (Jerome Williams 81')
RUAC - Khori Bennett (Hugo Delhommelle) - 25'
LVU - Chad Poarch (Shaquille Stephenson) - 47'
RUAC - Frantzdy Pierrot (Hugo Delhommelle) - 56'
RUAC - Aaron Molloy - 69'