I've been to Mapeldurham Recreation Ground before, a 2018 Reading Sunday League Cup Quarter-Final between Caversham United and Borussia Teeth (Goats Survive Brush With Teeth). Consequently, I can't count this as a new ground even though the place has changed considerably and Caversham now play on a different pitch to the game that I witnessed in 2018. The ground is accessed from a service road off the A4074. Look out for the Mapeldurham Tennis Club & Playing Fields signpost. There is a decent car park, shared with the tennis club. The pitches are behind the main building, accessed via a path between the main block and the (new, I think) Heights Primary School. The old pitch, from memory, was lengthways to the right of this path. The new one lies at a 90 degree angle to the left of the path. There are no covered areas of course, this is a community playing field, but the surface looked to be flat and in good condition.
In all fairness, this was a match-up between the league's two most out of form sides. Carterton, as followers will know, have only taken a single point so far in what has been a difficult season for them. Caversham have struggled for goals in the league and had only take a single point themselves since the 1-0 defeat of Kidlington in October. That came at Mapeldurham, with a 1-1 draw against Eversley & California. When the sides met in the second week of the season, Caversham returned from Oxfordshire with all three points thanks to a 1-0 win courtesy of Sumayah Zayadi.
Carterton may well have had a tough season but impressed with their attitude when I saw them get beaten at home by Woodley United a few weeks back (Call 999, Woodley Are On Fire). It was pleasing to see that they had two substitutes listed this weekend, having struggled to get a team out at times. I really hope they can turn things around there. Despite their league position, they look to only be a couple of additions to the squad away from being competitive again. Caversham for their part, were coming into this game with both of their two top scorers, Sumayah Zayadi and Freya Jenkins (7 goals between them), missing from the team. This meant that debutant Chante Bynoe-Gittins would be leading the line.
Caversham started brightly, with Annabelle Baxter letting fly early on but not troubling Burdock too much. However, it was a preview of what was to shortly follow. With only eight minutes on the clock the home side went ahead through Caitlin Levy. The midfielder picked the ball up some 25 yards out before unleashing a fierce dipping drive that beat Lynsey Burdock with pace as much as anything. Great strike. 1-0
Carterton were finding it hard to stem the flow of Caversham attacks. The Goats were playing a very attacking formation, with Katie Dearling pretty much in the right-wing position. They were clearly out to kill this game as soon as they could. However, it took a further ten minutes for Caversham to increase their lead and, when it did come, it was with more than a little help from the visitors. A dangerous looking cross from the left was inadvertently and unluckily diverted past Burdock by defender Molly Duffy, under pressure from Chante Bynoe-Gittens. 0-2.
As with the Woodley game a few weeks ago, Carterton continued to plug away but were finding top scorer Zoe Pugh well marshalled by Sophie Wicks. Jennifer Rozak looked lively and Sam Wadey-Smith kept battling in central midfield. In defence Molly Duffy, who also had a good game against Woodley, showed that that game was not a one-off, despite the unfortunate own goal. Again, you couldn't knock Carterton's efforts all across the pitch. Caversham just had too much for them on the day and, just before the half-hour mark, they effectively killed the game off as a contest. Katie Dearling got free down the right, pulled the ball back for Beth Hope who delivered a pinpoint cross for debutant Chante Bynoe-Gittens to stab the ball past Burdock. 3-0
HT Caversham United 3 Carterton 0. Not entirely one way traffic, but definitely a dominant display from The Goats.
With 10 minutes left, the high Carterton line was broken when Annabelle Baxter managed to get in down the right side. Once again, Lynsey Burdock did very well to make a great save. However, eight minutes later, Baxter was again in on goal from the right side. Her initial shot was blocked again by Burdock but Baxter was alert enough to follow up, latching onto the rebound and making no mistake. 4-0. That just left enough time for Emma Hopkins to round off the scoring in added time, taking a pass on the left before hitting a dipping shot over Burdock from the edge of the box. 5-0
FT Caversham United 5 Carterton 0. Caversham's biggest win of the season and the first time they had managed more than two goals in a game. A good all-round performance and a promising start from Chante Bynoe-Gittens, grabbing a goal on her first appearance. I am sure that Carterton are now focused on building a squad for next season. They, once again, kept playing until the final whistle and you have to admire their spirit. I found myself wanting them to get a consolation goal toward the end.
Next weekend Carterton entertain Penn Tylers Green, who they lost 5-1 to on the opening day of the season. Caversham make the trip to Eversley & California. The sides drew 1-1 in the reverse league meeting. The Boars also won 3-1 at Mapeldurham in the FA Cup earlier in the season.
Caversham United: Thoreau, Wick, Scott, Clarke, Downey, Levy, Dearling, Baxter, Hope, Bynoe-Gittens, Hopkins. Subs: Nelson, Jumratie, Graham
Carterton: Burdock, Duffy, Cornford(c), Diamond, Wadey-Smith, Rozak, Steptoe, Brain, Pugh, Clarke, Streete. Subs: Galloway, Smart
Ground Number: Re-Visit