Reading United A.C. took a big step toward reaching the Premier Development League Playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, scoring a tidy 2-0 victory over the visiting Northern Virginia Royals. United relied on some timely offense and Alex Bono’s goal keeping heroics to turn aside their opponents and vault to the top of the Mid-Atlantic Division.
The opening minutes of the match were played at a frenetic pace, with end to end action energizing the crowd at Gurski Stadium. The home side was gifted the opportunity to open the scoring in the 5th minute when Royals goalkeeper Joel Helmick went into a clumsy challenge with United forward Nico Delgado that saw referee John Barr award Reading a penalty kick. Guillermo Delgado stepped up to take the kick and powered his shot against the crossbar.
United would get their goal minutes later. Shane Campbell sent a lofted free kick into the Royals penalty are from the left channel. Center back Jordan Wilson rose above the crowd and flicked his headed effort past the diving Helmick to stake Reading to a 1-0 lead.
Following the goal, Northern Virginia spent much of the first half laying siege to the Reading defense in search of an equalizer. The Royals offense peppered the Reading goal with 10 shots but they were denied by the fine goalkeeper play of Alex Bono. Bono made a total of six saves in the first half to keep the Royals off the scoreboard.
Reading Head Coach David Castellanos made a tactical sub to start the second half, inserting central midfielder Owen Griffith into the match in place of the more attack minded Graham Smith. The move helped to stabilize the Reading defense as Griffith took up position just in front of the United center backs. By regaining control of the midfield, United began to press their guests in search of an important insurance goal.
That goal came in the 60th minute off the foot of in form forward Brett Campbell. Running through the heart of the Royals’ midfield, Andrew Morales picked out Campbell’s run down the right with an excellent through ball. The forward picked up the ball and cut back towards the center of the penalty area before hitting a laser that beat Helmick near post. Campbell now has goals in back-to-back matches for Reading.
With a two goal lead and firmly in control of the match, United looked to maintain possession and close out the victory. Northern Virginia mounted a late charge, forcing Bono to make three more clutch saves, but the visitors just could not breach United’s goal. Bono credited his teammates with helping him earn his fourth clean sheet of the season, saying, “It was a real team effort. We’ve got center backs scoring, we’ve got guys clearing balls that are coming out of break aways. Making saves is just all part of the job. To come out with a shut out today, it’s a real team effort, for me, the back four and the rest of the guys.”
The 2-0 victory allowed United to leapfrog the idle Jersey Express and regain the top spot in the Mid-Atlantic Division with just three matches to play. Reading Head Coach David Castellanos praised his side’s performance against a challenging opponent. “It’s tight in the race, you take a look at the table, every match is important. Anybody can come in and complicate things. Northern Virginia have a decent squad and they made it tough for us. Hats off to our boys for chipping away and getting us a much needed three points.”
Reading United A.C.
Alex Bono; Tim Lazorko (Quincy Thomas 12′), Jack Webber, Jordan Wilson, Shane Campbell (Rob Sagel 57′); Alex Olofson (JeVaughn Vance 64′), Graham Smith (Owen Griffith 46′), Andrew Morales (Geaton Caltabiano 61′); Brett Campbell, Nico Delgado (Manolo Sanchez 78′), Guillermo Delgado
READING: Jordan Wilson (Shane Campbell) – 8th Minute
READING: Brett Campbell (Andrew Morales) – 60th Minute