ALLENTOWN, PA (May 11, 2019) – Following Wednesday night’s hard earned win over Philadelphia Lone Star in U.S. Open Cup play, Reading United A.C. opened the 2019 USL League 2 regular season with an emphatic 5-2 win over in-state rivals Lehigh Valley United at Allentown’s Cedar Crest College. Three different goal scorers helped Reading stave off a Lehigh Valley comeback and secured the visitors’ eighth straight win over their nearest rivals.
Reading were on the scoreboard quickly as midfielder Alban Rousselet found the back of the net in the game’s 3rd minute. A turnover by Lehigh Valley United near midfield resulted in a furious Reading counterattack. Alban Rousselet settled a pass from the right flank, pivoted and fired a low blast to the far post.
Fifteen minutes later, Reading doubled their advantage. Left back Richie Schlentz sent a cross into the Lehigh Valley penalty that found Simon Becher, who cracked a volleyed shot in to the net to make it 2-0 to Reading.
Lehigh Valley United cut Reading’s lead in half just two minutes later. Steven Bednarski struck a ball inside the visitors’ penalty area that took a wicked deflection and left Reading goalkeeper Gordon Botteril stranded.
The goal shifted momentum. After dominating the opening stages of the match, Reading was forced to sit back and absorb pressure from the hosts. Lehigh Valley’s sustained pressure paid dividends in the 38th minute. A cross into the Reading penalty caused confusion amongst the visitors’ defense. As the ball bounced precariously close the Reading United goalmouth, Bednarski poked the ball past everyone to level the match at 2-2.
Following a set of halftime adjustments, Reading United came out of the locker room and seized control of the match. The visitors set about to immediately put Lehigh Valley on their heels. In the 48th minute, Reading United midfielder Alvin Dahn found himself with the ball close to the endline on the near side of the pitch. Dahn, the 2018 Most Valuable Player for the St. Joseph’s University Men’s Soccer Team, fired a wicked shot toward goal that struck the chest of an unlucky Lehigh Valley defender and caromed into the net to push Reading to a 3-2 lead.
Reading extended their lead to 4-2 in the 66th minute when Simon Becher grabbed his second goal of the night, tapping home a rebound after Dahn saw his shot blocked by the Lehigh Valley goalkeeper.
The visitors sealed the victory in the 86th minute. Deniz Dogan’s 25 yard free kick looked destined to hit the back of the net but clanged off the left post and rebounded to the feet Seth Kuhn. The Wyomissing, Pennsylvania native, who had just subbed in to the match seconds earlier, calmly tapped home the rebound to push the final scoreline to 5-2 in Reading favor.
Reading United will now prepare for their U.S. Open Cup Second Round match versus the two-time defending USL Champions, Louisville City FC, in Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday, May 15th. United return to USL League 2 action on May 22nd when they travel to face the New York Red Bulls U23s in a crucial early season showdown between the Mid-Atlantic Division heavyweights.