As it happens, I was not the only person that had marked down this game. I discovered when I got home that none other than serial ground-hopper Tony Incenzo was also present. However, he was ticking off ground number 2,133 whereas I am a mere amateur on ground number 126.
When the game kicked off, with the home side kicking up the slope away from the A404 towards Gossmore Lane, it was they who looked the more lively. However, the fact that Reading played the first 5 minutes with 10 men may have had something to do with it. The early start was good for me, especially as I had only come from Bracknell this evening, it was clearly more of a challenge to the players who, I assume, had struggled to make the kick-off after a day at work.
Despite Marlow having the upper hand possession-wise, it was Reading who made the two best opportunities in the opening minutes, stinging the Marlow keeper's hands with one effort from outside the box.
After 13 minutes a switch of play by Reading found one of their players unmarked on the left flank. As he tried to cut inside he was pulled down and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
YMCA captain Dan Donegan swept the ball home to make it 0-1.
To emphasise the fact that this was a Step 7 game, Donegan's next touch of the ball was when he had to run into the adjacent car park to retrieve it after a shot was deflected for a corner.
Despite having the lead, Reading did not take a stranglehold on the game. In fact, the remainder of the first-half was pretty even. Reading, in fairness, continued to make the better chances but Marlow still posed a threat, particularly through the pace and quick feet of winger Liam Bushey. On 39 minutes it was Bushey who came closest to levelling the scores. A mazy run from the halfway line ended with the winger clipping the post with a shot that had the Reading keeper beaten.
HT Marlow United 0 Reading YMCA 1.
On the hour mark we had what, I thought at the time, was the bizarre incident of the game. Marlow were awarded a free-kick midway into the Reading half. As Marlow midfielder James Tripp prepared to take the kick he must have said something to the referee. The referee obviously didn't like it and produced a yellow card. As the official walked away Tripp must have made a further comment because the referee immediately turned around, showed a second yellow and a red card. I don't think I have ever seen a player get two yellows after being awarded a free-kick before.
Down to ten men, the task got even harder for Marlow three minutes later. A superb cross-field ball was controlled on the left-flank by Cox who then found the unmarked Johnny Adey running into the 6-yard box to tap home. 0-2.
To give credit to Marlow, after going two goals behind and being a man short, they gave it a really good go and took the game to Reading for the next 15 minutes or so. They had a coupel of half-decent chances but never really made Jamie Froude, in the Rading goal, stretch too much.
With just under ten minutes to go Reading put the icing on the cake when another left-wing cross was delivered perfectly for substitute (and Birthday Boy, I believe) Mark Lemm to head home. 0-3.
FT Marlow United 0 Reading YMCA 3. Reading go into their last game still unbeaten for the season, which is a great achievement at any level. Marlow still aren't certain of second place but a win against Mortimer on Saturday would all but guarantee it.
An eventful evening in which I managed to miss the most notorious and famous ground-hopper in the country and a change of assistant at half-time. Should have gone to Specsavers!
This was my first taste of the Thames Valley Premier. I don't think it will be my last.
Marlow United - @unitedmarlow
Reading YMCA - @ymca_fc
Thames Valley League - @readingleague