In between a thrilling extra time Quarter-Final win in the FA Cup and an enticing forthcoming Semi-Final in the same competition, attention turned back to the league for Reading as they travelled to Bristol City.
It was a positive start from the Royals as the majority of the opening minutes were played inside the Bristol City half. Brooke Chaplen’s clip towards the far post was met by the head of Remi Allen but it went over Sophie Baggaley’s crossbar.
It had been a slow start from the hosts, but on the 15th minute Lucy Graham found space on the edge of the Reading penalty area. Her strike just evaded Grace Moloney’s far post. A minute later, Abi Harrison header looped over.
The Royals managed to win a corner on the 20th minute, which was nodded back across goal by Jade Moore to Allen but Baggaley was there to smother. The Vixens goalkeeper was called into action soon after as the hosts failed to clear their lines from a long throw-in. Williams chipped a cross which was deflected to Rachel Furness, whose looping header was kept out at the far post by Baggaley.
On the half hour mark, Moore’s cross-cum-shot went just wide of the far post, having latched onto Jo Potter’s superb cross-field pass. The first half fizzled out with a few half-chances falling the way of Bristol City.
After the interval the Royals were awarded an early second half penalty as Lauren Bruton was bundled over in the penalty box. Fara Williams stepped up but Baggaley was equal to it, diving to her left. Moments later, Molly Bartrip’s strike from distance was well saved.
The missed penalty didn’t set Reading back however and the deadlock was broken via Chaplen, with her second in as many league games. Bartrip played an exquisite 50-yard pass over the Vixens back four which Chaplen got on the end of, before racing clear of the defence and dispatching confidently past Baggaley.
The Royals conjured a similar opportunity on the 66th minute as Furness played Chaplen through, but Baggaley rushed out of her goal to deny the forward. At the other end, Moloney managed to hold Lucy Graham’s header.
With little intense pressure from Bristol City during the latter stages, the Royals managed to hang on for a big three points, and inflicted a first league defeat on home soil since October for the Vixens.
Bristol City: Baggaley, Dykes (C), Evans, Brown, Kerkdijk, Pattinson, Humphrey, Graham, Harrison, Ayane (Rutherford 62), Biesmans.
Subs not used: Cummings, Kemppi, Allen, Payne, Wilson, Robinson.
Reading: Moloney, Pacheco, Williams (Hönnudóttir 75), Bartrip, Furness, Allen, Bruton, Harding, Moore, Chaplen (Farrow 87), Potter (C).
Subs not used: Pearce, Davison, Bailey, Estcourt, Howard.
Scorer: Chaplen (55)