READ United were gallant in defeat as they went down to a combative Burnley Grammar School Old Boys side managed by former Burnley star Andy Payton on Saturday.
Read United were gallant in defeat as they went down to a combative Burnley Grammar School Old Boys side managed by former Burnley star Andy Payton on Saturday.
The early exchanges saw each side play slick football on a wonderful pitch, as both teams tried to stamp authority on the game.
BGSOB took the lead when another former Claret, man of the match Paul Smith, floated in a delightful cross that was begging to be converted, Phil Neal obliged to nod home.
United responded in spectacular fashion, a half-cleared corner fell to a lurking Matthew Whitwell, who let off a rocket destined for the hosts’ top corner.
This emboldened United, who forced the home side into retreat, Kyle O’ Connor’s diving header should have found the net.
Jack Fielding then engineered a chance for himself with clever footwork, before dragging his shot just wide.
In the next wave of play, Kevin Preston capitalised on hesitant defending by United’s Jake Uttley to give Old Boy’s the lead.
The visitors could have been level just before the break; Jordan Neary’s composed half volley was scrambled off the line with the keeper beaten.
The hosts made United pay by extending their lead through a towering header by Giovanni Tamburello, connecting with an adept Smith cross.
United’s paucity in front of goal was synthesized by missing top scorer Andy Bennett, who’s 14 goals in 8 starts is vital to the Read cause.
Nevertheless United pressed, Dominic Counsell’s pinpoint cross-field ball sought out Neary, who’s flashed cross was sent just over by Fielding.
Callum Clarke then had a bullet-header miraculously tipped onto the bar as United fought valiantly to the end.
Victory for the Payton’s men meant they leapfrogged Read in the table, as United now hover precariously over the relegation zone.
Co-manager Nick Galea questioned the commitment of some players: “After last week’s encouraging display we have lost the spine of our team today for various reasons. If we are to compete in this league we need to keep a consistent squad.”