Midfielder Toufik Najem scored in stoppage time to lift Reading United AC over Philadelphia Lone Star FC in a USL League Two match Saturday at Alvernia University.
It was a roller-coaster of emotions for Reading and its fans in the last 25 minutes.
After getting goals in the 72nd from Sam Hershey and the 77th minute from Shuma Sasaki, United AC led 2-1 and had the momentum.
However, Lone Star tied it in the 88th minute on what was ruled an own goal.
Despite giving up the tying goal, United’s players kept their composure after five minutes were put on the clock and fought to earn the team’s fourth win of the season. Reading (4-2-6) had lost its two previous games to Lone Star this season.
“It feels great,” Najem said of his game-winning goal, which came off an assist from Ryan Kuster. “I missed this feeling. … It felt so great. I’m so happy, and I’m glad I can help my team.”
Najem missed last season due to an injury, and he scored his first goal since returning in United’s last game on Wednesday, a 4-0 win at Lehigh Valley.
“He’s someone who has been in and out of lineups and in and out of playing time,” Reading coach Casey Moore said of Najem. “He keeps working and grinding to earn minutes. He’s now scored in the past two games, so it feels great for him. A well-deserved goal for all the work he’s put in.”
Before the winner from Najem, Reading started the game flat, leading to a goal by Philadelphia (3-4-1) in the 18th minute from Aboubacar Camara.
“I thought we started out slow, and we were trying to chase, and the second half was completely different,” Moore said.
It seemed like Reading flipped a switch coming out of halftime, as its looked more energized at both ends of the field.
“We got into the team at halftime,” Moore said. “It (the play) was not nearly good enough and not up to the standard of this club. Just told guys to man up and show a bit of character. I loved the reaction from the players.”
That reaction led to a second consecutive win for United.
With two games remaining in the regular season, this victory was much needed for Reading as it looks to keep its postseason hopes alive. United is in third place in the Mid-Atlantic Division.
“Every time we win, there’s a huge boost of confidence,” Moore said. “The guys are buzzing right now in the locker room. We’ve been playing really well all season but getting a lot of draws. The win lifts everyone’s spirits. … It’s huge for the guys.”
Reading will face West Chester United SC on July 8 at YSC Sports as it looks to extend its winning streak.
Source: Berkshire mont