The game was being played at a neutral venue, Sol Joel Park in Earley.
The day started with a fair bit of rain and didn't look like it was going to improve vastly over the course of the morning. However, the pitch was playable if not a bit heavy in places and I don't think the game was ever in doubt.
On arriving I noticed immediately that Caversham were giving a debut to their new kit. Well their new shirts to be more exact, the rest of the kit having not been delivered yet. So, after a team photo to mark the occasion the sides were ready to do battle for a place in the Final.
Coming into the game both sides had played two games to progress to this Semi-Final. Shinfield Park kicked off with a 4-1 victory over fellow Division 3 side FC Showcase, they then beat Division 4 side Tilehurst Titans 4-0 in the Quarter-Final.
The Billy Goats beat the now defunct Coley Park Reserves 6-1 and followed it up with the dramatic 4-3 extra-time win over Borussia Teeth in the Quarter-Final. So, a total of 23 goals in the four games played so far. The chances of this being 0-0 were slim.
Shinfield, brimming with confidence after beating league leaders AFC Lowfield Green 6-1 in their last game, took the game to Caversham right from the first whistle, immediately pushing the Goats defence backwards and onto the back foot. It took 11 minutes for Shinfield to break the Goats resolve, Steven Downes breaking clear of his marker and producing a clinical finish past Tom Higginson to make it 1-0.
Caversham tried to dig in, but with their defence still being pushed quite deep they were finding it very difficult to get a foothold on the game and it was no real surprise when Shinfield grabbed a second goal. It came in the 23rd minute, Brett Rann controlling a ball over the top on the left flank, cutting inside and shaping an excellent shot into the far corner of Higginson's goal. 2-0
Once again, Caversham showed plenty of grit to steady the ship at this point, but were still not making any significant inroads into the Shinfield half. That was until the last 5 minutes of the first half when The Billy Goats managed to put together a few good passages of play and showed enough to give some encouragement for the second half, not forgetting that they were 2-0 down in the Quarter-Final as well.
HT Shinfield Park United 2 Caversham United 0. The higher ranked side showed their class and dominated the half. However, there were signs of a Goat revival toward the end of the 45 minutes.
Credit to the Goats though that it took until the 67th minute before Shinfield finally put the game to bed. However, when it did come it was a goal of such simplicity that Caversham must have been very annoyed to concede in such manner. A corner from the right which was headed in, almost unchallenged, by Wayne Broadley for 3-0.
This would be an ideal spot to wheel out comments such as The Goats leaving themselves a mountain to climb but, of course, I'm not going to do that. Eight minutes later substitute Alex Dow got in on the act, muscling his marker off the ball before slotting the ball past Higginson to make it 4-0. The mountain had just become Everest.
Caversham were well beaten by now but weren't going to just collapse. To their credit they did still try to get the ball down and at least get a consolation goal. It was, however, not to be their day at all.
They won't be happy that on 81 minutes they conceded a goal almost identical to the Shinfield's third. Another right-wing corner but this time Shinfield captain Mitchell Cooper was the one to head the ball home. 5-0.
That just left 16-goal top-scorer Patrick Gardner to have the last say, hammering home Shinfield's superiority with the last kick of the game. 6-0
FT Shinfield Park United 6 Caversham United 0. The dream is over for The Goats but they can be proud of getting to a cup semi-final. On the day they were well beaten by a very good side in a division above them. Shinfield can go top of the Division Three with their games in hand and, on this evidence, I can see no reason to doubt that they will do just that.
Shinfield Park United: J.Patterson, Edwards, Holmes, D.Patterson, Carpenter, Baker, Rann, Downes, Cooper(c), Gardner, Rawlinson. Subs: Bessant, R.Dow, A.Dow, Broadley, Hughes
Caversham United: Higginson, Slowe, Foster, Frost, France, Sadiq(c), Webb, Dellow, Hales, Thomas, Sturgess. Subs: Voelker, Swift, Westwood
Ground Number: 181