A Danielle Carter goal five minutes before the break was enough to consign Reading FC Women to defeat in their penultimate game of the Spring Series at the hands of Arsenal.
After fighting from a goal behind against Birmingham to get a draw with ten women on the pitch last time out – and beating Yeovil on their previous outing – Kelly Chambers’ side didn’t quite have enough to pick up points for a third straight game, as the title-challengers ended their home fixtures with victory.
It was a game of few real chances – though Reading were first to fashion a noteworthy effort just before the quarter-hour mark as Kirsty Linnett cut inside and tested the Gunners’ stopper.
Moments later, at the other end of the field, the woodwork was left rattling when Beth Mead unleashed a powerful effort which bounced clear off Mary Earps’ post.
It was Arsenal who finally made the breakthrough, as Carter turned in from close range – the hard work had already been done by Mead and Heather O’Reilly on the left flank, allowing the latter to centre for their teammate to convert.
Reading had more of the ball after the break – and a penalty appeal turned away on the hour-mark – but couldn’t force the equaliser.
Lauren Bruton was the closest to doing so, unleashing a terrific effort from distance, but it wisped past the post. Jordan Nobbs had had a pair of chances to double the Gunners’ lead – first seeing Earps saving well, and then miscuing.
And so Reading will make the long trip up to Wearside on Saturday with the opportunity to potentially finish as high as fifth in the Spring Series – a win against Sunderland would take them above their hosts. Birmingham – who are level on points with the Royals – host leaders Chelsea on the final day.