Reading City’s FA Cup shock, Virginia Water’s milestone and Woodley United’s youngsters part of the big day

Adam McNamara. Photo supplied by Virginia Water FC.
Adam McNamara. Photo supplied by Virginia Water FC.

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The opening weekend of the season kicked off with a few surprises as Reading City sprung a ‘shock’ defeating higher division opposition in the FA Cup while Virginia Water lifted a curse that’s been following them around their cup endeavours.

Elsewhere, there was a former Ascot United youngster in first team action for Reading FC Women and Woodley United had their youngsters out in force for the Combined Counties League Division One opener.

It’s the weekend talking points! As ever, feel free to add your own in the comments here.

Reading City going under the radar

Last week’s Berkshire Football Stories podcast suggested that ‘we’ll tell a lot about Reading City’s season by how they fair against Highworth Town in the FA Cup.’

Well, the Cityzens only went and ‘upset’ their Step 4 opposition in their own backyard. The goals coming from Josh Baines and Leyton Basterfield setting up a trip to either Royal Wootton Bassett Town or Windsor in the FA Cup Preliminary Round.

So what of the season ahead? Partly because of the cup draw and partly due to Reading Festival encroaching on The Rivermoor later this month, it’ll be 6th September before Simon Johnson’s side taste home comforts but they’ve recruited smartly with the experience of Phil Veal and Joel Valentin coming in from Binfield, they’ve promoted youth and kept the core of a squad that produced some strong performances last season – not least on the opening day against Southall.

We’ve high hopes for City then this season. Listen to the podcast here.

Ascot United youngsters making their way in the game

It’s always good news when one of your youngsters makes their way into the professional game and it looks like one of Ascot United’s young players is doing just that with FA Women’s Super League side Reading FC Women.

According to the Ascot team, Bella Cox made her first team debut in a pre-season friendly away at Bristol City.

Reading have some talented players and a lot of experience this season. A fair bit will likely rest on the shoulders of Emma Harries when she returns from injury and Canadian superstar Deanne Rose but the Royals also have plenty of experience and regularly promote youth – a policy that saw ‘super sub’ youngster Tia Primmer sign her first pro deal this summer.

For details on Reading FC Women fixtures and how to buy tickets, head here.

Cribbs boss: I never liked the FA Cup anyway

This just made me chuckle.

Woodley United’s youngsters get involved

Lovely to see and something we’ve chatted at length about elsewhere – particularly with Ellis Woods at Berks County during the club’s FA Vase run. Seeing kids involved in First Team men’s and women’s games sets them up with your club and Woodley United look well set in this regard. Plenty more like this, please.

Virginia Water’s FA Cup milestone

Just to round off, Combined Counties League Premier Division North Virginia Water beat newly promoted Hilltop 1-0 in the FA Cup at the weekend. This was the club’s first-ever win in the famous competition at the fourth attempt.

Waters have played Extra Preliminary Round ties since 2019, losing to AFC Croydon Athletic, Spelthorne Sports and Athletic Newham before finally lifting the ‘curse’ thanks to Adam McNamara’s strike.

Merthyr fans lend their bus to the first team

Very much an ‘and finally’. But on Saturday Merthyr Town (who host Bracknell Town at the weekend) had their afternoon saved by their own supporters when the team coach broke down on the way to Gosport Borough.

A tweet by Cliff Pledge told the story: “Non-league story of the week? Merthyr Town fans saved the day when the team bus broke down going to Gosport. Supporters donated their bus, the stranded fans went to watch Winchester City vs Poole Town instead. Put up the flags, followed their game online, and finished all the beer!”

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