July 20, 2016
Eastern Conference Championships next for Reading United
READING, Pa. -- Reading United rallied to defeat the Western Mass Pioneers, 3-1, in the opening round of the PDL playoffs Tuesday night.
Goals by Frantzdy Pierrot (40th minute), Rayane Boukemia (71st) and Ismael Noumansana (90th) and strong defending helped United advance to the Eastern Conference Championships for the first time since 2013. Reading United will host the championships Saturday and Sunday at Don Thomas Stadium.
The match started fast. United had an opportunity in the 21st minute as Noumansana’s close range blast off a cross saved by Nick Zucco at the far post.
The Pioneers took the lead in the 23rd minute as Max Viera converted a 20-yard volley off a pass chipped over the defense.
United then began to control the pace. In the 35th minute, Boukemia’s cross from the right was punched away, Pierre Reedy shooting at an empty, Ben Lamb scrambling to clear off the line.
Five minutes later, Noumansana whipped in a low cross, Pierrot running through to flick past Zucco.
Following halftime, Reading struggled offensively, but, led by center backs Rob Sagel and Kaique Fernandes, shut down the Pioneers.
Reading broke the deadlock as Pierrot began an attacking move with hold up play, sending a ball wide to Noumansana, who found Boukemia running through the middle. Boukemia then chipped Zucco, who was off his line.
Noumansana then scored with a move from the top of the penalty area after Gilbert Waso found Pierrot, who laid off to Noumansana.
Seconds later, referee Jeroslaw Werel whistled for a penalty kick following a hand ball, Boukemia’s penalty saved by Zucco.
“They came out great, it was what we wanted,” Reading coach Stephen Hogan said. “We came out fast and we possessed the ball through Aaron Molloy and Rayane Boukemia. The two of them were fantastic. We fell asleep for 10 seconds on a throw-in and they got a great goal. Hats off, it was a great strike. After that, we came in after they scored and dominated possession. I think we deserved the equalizer. I think Frantzdy Pierrot finished it fantastically.
“Through the whole squad, there was always belief. We try to put simple messages into them, but there was always the belief that we’ll create chances and then we just needed the players to believe in themselves to put the ball into the net. There is a certain belief that no matter what happens in our goal, we’re definitely going to score in the opponent’s goal and that’s just continued to happen. I think there’s a lot of positivity going on, they’re very professional, very focused.”