READING Abbey made expert use of the appalling weather conditions in the final stages of their Southern Counties North game to earn a crucial 21-16 home win against Wallingford.

On a miserable afternoon at Rosehill, Abbey fell behind after six minutes when Wallingforf full-back Charlie Campbell landed an excellent penalty from 30 metres out, and things got worse shortly after when a swift counter-attack ended with Peter McKinley speeding away to touch down for a try in the left corner.

Campbell’s conversion attempt drifted to the left, but his side led 8-0.

Abbey struck back quickly, though, and with Wallingford hooker Jack Payne in the sin-bin, they opened their account when prop Adam Postlethwaite dived over from close range after George House had been stopped just short.

Charlie Shackleford's touchline conversion attempt struck the post, but the visitors moved 11-5 up on 23 minutes when Campbell landed another excellent penalty.

A Shackleford penalty cut the gap back to three points, before a lengthy halt in proceedings arose after Payne looked to have suffered a potentially serious injury.

Both sides returned to their changing rooms, but fortunately, the front row was able to leave the field of his own accord before half-time arrived with Wallingford leading 11-8.

While the rain eased off to an extent in the second half, the wind increased in power, with Abbey the more likely to benefit.

However, it was the visitors who grabbed the opening score, the forwards launching a series of drives inside the Abbey 22 before prop Carl Tappin eventually powered over the line.

Campbell’s conversion attempt from near the right touchline barely left the ground, such was the strength of the wind, but his side had fashioned an eight-point lead.

Abbey again rallied, though, and with Will Bevan and Jules Greenaway testing the Wallingford back three with a series of high, swirling kicks, they eventually forced a penalty inside the 22 which Shackleford knocked over.

As the game neared the final 10 minutes, the Abbey forwards finally took full control.

Prompted by Bevan, they pounded away inside the Wallingford 22, with Gereie Sutherland, Lewis Jones and Postlethwaite all prominent.

Sutherland made 10 metres from a tapped penalty, and after a series of drives, Conor Slaven crossed for the all-important try after 72 minutes. Shackleford’s conversion gave Abbey the lead for the first time, and Abbey then showed an impressive maturity as they wound the clock down.

Greenaway launched another kick which trapped Wallingford in their own 22, and drive after drive saw the Abbey pack retain possession and keep their discipline.

With injury time approaching, Wallingford had second row Ed Searle sent to the bin following a warning to both captains, and shortly after, Abbey won a penalty on the left-hand touchline.

With just a minute or two of injury time remaining, everyone, including home coach Luke Harding, assumed Abbey would elect to take a scrum, but to general astonishment Shackleford called for the kicking tee.

To the home supporters’ delight however, he landed an amazing kick to stretch Abbey’s lead to five points, and while there was still time for the game to restart. Bevan’s kick to touch sparked off Abbey celebrations after a hard-won victory.

The victory lifts Abbey 11 points clear of the bottom two, although they face a tough test in their next outing on Saturday, February 29 when they travel to champions-elect Witney.