Reading FC Women will welcome supporters back for the first time this season, as they take on Bristol City in the FA Barclay’s Women’s Super League this Sunday.
After another international break that saw a great showing for the usual Welsh quintet of Royals and a fantastic competitive debut for Republic of Ireland for Reading keeper Grace Moloney, Kelly Chambers’ side are back in league action for the first time since a mid-November draw away to Everton.
The Royals currently sit in 7th place in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, just three points behind Manchester City in 5th, whereas opponents Bristol City currently sit bottom of the table.
It has certainly been a difficult start to the WSL campaign for manager Tanya Oxtoby and her Bristol City side. Looking to improve on last season’s 10th place finish, a 4-0 home defeat to Everton on the opening day was the first of five straight league defeats. That run was almost extended to six but for a stoppage time goal from Ebony Salmon that salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw at home against Tottenham Hotspur in their last league outing three weeks ago, and as a result City sit bottom of the table. Away defeats have come in the form of a 9-0 score-line against Chelsea, 8-1 against Manchester City and 3-1 to Arsenal, and at home, a 4-0 loss to Birmingham City. However, Bristol have enjoyed success in the Continental Cup. Wins over Championship sides London Bees, Crystal Palace Women and Lewes FC Women have seen the Robins top their group to secure a position in the quarter-finals. Leading goal scorers both with four, are England U19 forward Ebony Salmon and Australian international midfielder Chloe Logarzo who joined City in January 2020.
The Bristol City squad remains similar to that of last season, but another Australian recruit is 28-year-old midfielder Ella Mastrantonio who joined from W-League side Western Sydney Wanderers. She has a wealth of experience with over 100 W-League appearances and six caps for the Matildas. 22-year old keeper Benedicte Haaland – who has represented Norway at U19 level – arrived in the West Country following the expiration of her deal with Swiss side, Lugano Femminile. The Northern Ireland international Laura Rafferty has joined on a season-long loan deal from fellow WSL side Brighton & Hove Albion, where she represented the Seagulls on 30 occasions. 18-year old midfielder Emma Bissell, a product of Manchester City's Regional Talent Centre programme, moved to Bristol after four seasons on the blue side of Manchester. Formerly with Liverpool, 23-year old Jemma Purfield can feature as full back or as a winger and has represented England at U19 level. Finally, 16-year old defender Naomi Layzell is a product of the Robins’ Regional Talent Centre and made her WSL debut against Manchester City last month.
Since the Robins finished runners-up in WSL2 in 2016 thereby achieving promotion to the top-flight, they have always found the Royals extremely difficult opponents. The teams first met in the 2017 Spring Series and Reading won 3-1 at City’s Stoke Gifford Stadium, their goals coming from Rachel Furness, Rachel Rowe, and Melissa Fletcher. The Royals did even better when they returned to the same stadium in October 2017, triumphing 5-0 in the WSL. Rowe scored a well-taken double while Fara Williams, Remi Allen and Jade Moore were also on target. The following February, Reading completed the league double over the Robins with a 4-0 victory at Adams Park – the Royals’ first home league win since moving to the ground over two years earlier. There were two wonderful strikes from Williams with Kirsty Pearce and Brooke Chaplen also hitting the net. Moving into season 2018-19, the Royals again completed the league double over the Robins. In November at Adams Park, Williams again netted a memorable brace and Brooke Chaplen completed the scoring in a 3-0 victory. The following March, Chaplen scored the only goal at Stoke Gifford to ensure the Reading returned home with the three points. Last season’s only meeting came at the Madejski in November during the inaugural Women’s Football Weekend, where Bristol finally had some success. Early goals from Allen and Chaplen put the Royals in control but Charlie Wellings halved the deficit before the interval. Angharad James restored the Royals 2-goal advantage but within a minute Yana Daniels had replied for City. This gave the visitors confidence and Ebony Salmon’s late goal made the final score 3-3.
The return of fans
For the first time since the Barclays FA Women’s Super League was disbanded earlier in the year before the end of the 2019-20 season, supporters will be attending a Reading FC Women match this weekend.
Upon the return to Madejski Stadium, your safety is absolutely top of the list. We want three points, we want a good performance, but more than any of that we want to ensure that our fans are safe and secure when they return to RG2.
Click here to find out more about measures that have been put in place and how you can play a role in keeping your fellow supporters safe, too.
Print at home only tickets are still available to purchase here, until 12pm on Sunday.
After 5pm today (Friday) tickets can only be purchased online and not over the phone.
Parking will be available on the day for £10 contactless payments only.
PLEASE NOTE THAT TICKETS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BE PURCHASED AT THE GAME.
Reading FC Women v Bristol City Women | Sunday 6th December | 2pm | Madejski Stadium | Watch Live on the FA Player