Royals overcome hosts at Ashton Gate
Reading FC Women got their Spring Series campaign off to a flying start at Ashton Gate, as they saw off newly-promoted Bristol City Women by a 3-1 scoreline.
January arrival Rachel Furness opened the scoring for the Royals, with Rachel Rowe and Melissa Fletcher each opening their seasonal accounts soon after. Lauren Hemp cut the arrears for the hosts deep into the second half but the Royals claimed the points.
Over 1,000 supporters were in attendance to witness the kick-off of the transitional tournament – the Vixens joined Reading at this level at the end of the 2016 season, having finished second in the WSL2 on goal-difference to Yeovil and earning promotion to the top tier.
The game was deadlocked going into the interval, despite a high-tempo start and some good openings. Royals stopper Mary Earps, who travelled with the England senior squad to the SheBelieves Cup last month, was called upon to deny Claire Emslie one-on-one and save well from a header by Olivia Fergusson.
Fletcher twice fired over for Reading and Earps’ crossbar was rattled by Emslie before the break – but just three minutes after the restart, the Royals led.
Former Sunderland midfielder Furness arrived to meet a deep corner and headed in powerfully, marking her league debut in the blue and white hoops with the first goal of the Spring Series.
The hosts responded with a few forays, but weren’t able to find the target – and the Royals punished their profligacy before the hour-mark when Rowe was slotted in and finished with precision from the edge of the box. And Fletcher snaffled up the chance to make it three when a defensive mix-up gifted her a chance to poke into an empty net.
Those three goals in 12 minutes effectively wrapped up the match – but the hosts were offered a lifeline with quarter of an hour remaining, as a patient piece of build-up was finished decisively inside the box by Hemp.
Late pressure from the hosts amounted to nothing; the Royals held on for an opening-day win!
The Royals travel to Liverpool next weekend, and then kick off their home campaign at Adams Park on Wednesday 3rd May (7.35pm) against Chelsea.