Reading’s three-match winning run in the league came to an end at Everton as the Royals lost 3-2 in Southport for the second time this season.
Remi Allen put the Royals ahead on 7 minutes with a tap-in from close range after good work from Natasha Harding. The Welsh right-back forced a save from Kirstie Levell at her near post, before squaring it to Allen who finished past the Everton defenders on the goal line.
The hosts were looking to hit back straight away but Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah’s volley was well held by Grace Moloney. The Royals shot-stopper was called into action again on the 20th minute to palm Danielle Turner’s fierce left-footed strike.
Reading were dominating possession but were finding it difficult in the final third to effectively break Everton down. The Royals then had captain Kirsty Pearce to thank for keeping the scores level with a header off the line to deny Boye-Hlorkah, with just over seven minutes left of the first half.
However, just two minutes later and the hosts were gifted an equaliser as Moloney gave possession to Kaagman with a loose pass out from the back. The Everton midfielder still had a lot to do but expertly chipped Moloney who was off her line.
It was Willie Kirk’s Everton who turned the game on its head early in the second half as Boye-Hlorkah danced past a few challenges before unleashing a shot from over 20 yards which beat Moloney via an awkward bounce at her near post.
Just after the hour mark, Hannah Cain dragged a shot wide and Fara Williams forced a comfortable save for Levell from a free-kick.
Everton grabbed a third on the 64th minute following a counter-attack. Simone Magill was played through and forced a good save from Moloney before finishing on the rebound.
The Reading goalkeeper was certainly making amends for her earlier error with further saves to deny Cain and then Boye-Hlorkah as Everton continued to pile on the pressure.
Reading did halve the deficit with 15 left to play and it was a well-worked goal. Williams finished high into the roof of the net, having latched onto Millie Farrow’s clever disguised pass.
Kelly Chambers’ substitutions seemed to have the desired effect as Reading began to dominate the proceedings again. Rachel Furness blasted just over from a free kick on the edge of the area five minutes from time.
The Royals pushed for a late equaliser in stoppage time but clear-cut chances evaded them as Everton held on for the points.
After the game manager Kelly Chambers said: “It’s a hard one to take. We’ve gone from a first half where we’ve dominated, defensively we were quite sound and there was no pressure on us.
"The second half was difficult, Everton came out the blocks and we weren’t ready for that. We weren’t then good enough to get back into it.”
Everton: Levell, Turner, Worm, Boye-Hlorkah, Kaagman (Bruinenberg 90), Magill, James, Stringer, Finnigan, Cain (Hughes 83), Brownlie.
Subs not used: Bryson, Chance, Coan.
Scorers: Kaagman (40) Boye-Hlorkah (51) Magill (64).
Reading: Moloney, Pacheco, Williams, Bartrip, Pearce (Howard 65), Furness, Allen, Bruton (Farrow 62), Harding, Bailey (Davison 78), Moore.
Subs not used: Estcourt, Laws, Woodham.
Scorers: Allen (7) Williams (75)