‘Icing on the cake’ as Reading City lift first trophy

Reading City celebrate. Photo: Peter Toft.
Reading City celebrate. Photo: Peter Toft.

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Reading City lifted their first senior trophy by beating Horley Town 5-2 in the Southern Combination Cup final at Rivermoor Stadium on Friday evening.

Proud manager Simon Johnson described it as “the icing on the cake” at the end of the most successful season since the Scours Lane-based club was reformed in 2018.

He said: “The lads have worked incredibly hard this season and achieved club records in every competition we have been in.”

With home advantage, City were hot favourites to beat a Horley side that had finished well down the Combined Counties League Premier South table.

Co-captain Phil Veal said before the tie that “nights like tonight don’t come around very often, and it’s important we throw everything at it.”

Phil Veal at Wembley. Photo: Neil Graham.
Phil Veal at Wembley. Photo: Neil Graham.

His side did just that, delivering a quick one-two that put them in control inside the opening 15 minutes.

The side that finished fourth in Premier Division North took the lead after three minutes when Ellis Cowd hammered home Ollie Bourne’s well-placed cross, his effort going in off the crossbar, and less than 10 minutes later, Tyler Robinson doubled the lead.

City’s confidence soared while Horley looked deflated, and at this early stage, there was no longer any doubt that the cup would not be leaving Rivermoor Stadium.

They nearly added a third before half-time, with Nat Boakye twice going close, but he made no mistake when hitting the target in the 57th minute. And two minutes later, Dan Warre extended City’s lead to
four.

Horley, however, refused to give up, and they pulled two goals back through Tom McKenna after 62 minutes and Lewis Taylor 20 minutes later.

But the Cityzens, who had scored nine goals in the previous two rounds of the competition, had the final word with a late fifth goal from Joel Valentin.

Johnson concluded: “We thoroughly deserved our win. We showed the right attitude and the right mentality; I could not be more pleased.

This is a historic night for the club and we are all buzzing.

“I’m extremely proud of everything we have achieved together – players, management, media team, supporters and the amazing volunteers behind the scenes.”

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