Reading FC Women were defeated by a second-half goal from Claudia Walker against the run of play, as they were unable to capitalise on a dominant performance that saw them rack-up twenty-two chances on goal to Birmingham City’s five.
The early stages of the game would mirror the majority of the match, with Reading enjoying more of the ball and knocking it about the park with more speed and authority than the visiting side.
Chances were created constantly, as captain Natasha Harding was busy down the right-hand side and Emma Mitchell equally so on the left.
Brooke Chaplen had several attempts on goal, two coming in the first ten minutes, both of them from the very edge of the Birmingham area. The first rose and went out for a goal-kick, the second was on target and required a save from Hannah Hampton.
Jess Fishlock was next to test the Birmingham keeper with a stinging effort from 30-yards, but again, Hampton stood her ground and parried the shot.
Reading would hit the crossbar twice in the first half, the first time from one of Wednesday’s goal-scorers Amalie Eikeland, whose chipped shot dinked off the top of the woodwork and out for a goal-kick and secondly in the dying minutes of the half, by Chaplen from a free-kick on the edge of the Birmingham area.
Half time: Reading FC Women 0 - 0 Birmingham City Women
The corners came in thick-and-fast as Reading started where they left off; constantly knocking on the Birmingham goal. Bartrip swung in a trio of corners before 50-minutes was on the clock, each one of them testing the away-side’s backline.
Chaplen came close again, as she intercepted a pass from Mitchell, turned and shot, but the ball was agonisingly close to dipping under the bar.
Frustrations grew as Reading continued to press. The duo of Danielle Carter and Fara Williams were brought on by manager Kelly Chambers, replacing Jeon Ga-eul and Eikeland.
There were strong appeals for a penalty just after the hour-mark, as a myriad of Royals players claimed the ball was handled in the box, but the referee waved it away.
The most agonising of all the chances, however, came on the 71st minute, when a goal-line scramble saw the ball creep along the line as Lauren Bruton bundled the effort towards goal before it was cleared. The ball made it’s way down the other end of the field incredibly quickly, where Claudia Walker stunned the Royals by slotting the ball home past Grace Moloney to give Birmingham the lead.
Reading dug deep and kept looking for the elusive goal. Bruton made way for Kristine Leine to give the Royals some pace down the right as Harding moved more central. This exchange almost paid off towards the end of the game, as Leine dashed down the wing and swung a great cross into the box, but Harding’s glancing header was wide of the mark.
Chambers’ side continued battling until the final whistle, but were unable to turn a solid, dominant performance into points.
Full time: Reading FC Women 0 - 1 Birmingham City Women
Reading FC Women:
Moloney, Mitchell, Cooper, Bartrip, Harding, Jeon (Carter ’60), Fishlock, James, Eikeland (Williams ’60), Chaplen, Bruton
Substitutes not used: Nayler, Leine, Rowe, Skeels, Harries, Woodham, Roberts
Birmingham City Women:
Hampton, Mayling, Scott, Corsie, Green (Grant ’75), Murray, Brougham, Holloway, Whipp (Scofield ’45), Walker, Napier (McCaron ’75)
Substitutes not used: Lawley, Toussaint, Logan
Goals: Walker ‘72
Yellow cards: Scofield
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