Reading FC Women and Birmingham scored a goal a piece and shared the points in a tightly contested league clash at the SportNation.bet Stadium that saw Reading trailing at half-time, but pull level through a second-half goal from Rachel Rowe.
Reading enjoyed most of the ball in the early stages; knocking it about comfortably between themselves as they looked for opportunities to get both Captain Natasha Harding and Amalie Eikeland in on goal early on.
However, as has been the way on many occasions this season, it was the opposing side that opened the scoring. Birmingham won a corner just 6 minutes into the game. The deep corner was kept out by Grace Moloney, but the rebound made its way out to City’s Ruby Mace who hit the back of the net to put the Blues in front from close range.
As they had prior to the opening goal, Reading saw the best of the ball after it. Nice link up play was had in the middle of the park between Rachel Rowe, Fara Williams and Angharad James. Rowe unleashed a shot on the Birmingham goal from distance, but her stinging effort was batted out by Blues’ keeper Hannah Hampton.
Danielle Carter made a promising break, steamrolling her way into the Birmingham half and towards goal. She laid the ball off nicely to Harding on the wing, but the Captain’s cross was blocked.
Moloney was called into action just before the end of the half, as she tipped Claudia Walker’s dipping volley over the bar, at full-stretch, to ensure that the score remained 1-0 to the home-side as the teams went into the break.
Half-time: Birmingham City Women 1-0 Reading FC Women
The second-half started less tentatively as the first as both sides pushed the pace early.
Reading had the better early effort through a nicely worked free-kick routine in which Williams and Rowe got the ball to Harding in the area. The skipper laid the ball off to Carter, whose shot on goal was blocked, but only as far as Rowe, but the Wales international’s effort was wide of the mark.
Reading sent Lilt Woodham tearing down the left wing several times in the first fifteen minutes, as she latched onto long ball after long ball.
It wasn’t too long before their tenacity paid off. The Royals won a pair of corners on the right. The second one came in deep and Williams headed towards goal. The ball was cleared as far as Rowe, who smashed the back of the net to equalise.
The substitutes came thick and fast as Reading looked to capitalise on the momentum. Brooke Chaplen made a welcome return after months of injury and illness, as she replaced Amalie Eikeland. Emma Harries and Kristine Leine also replaced Lily Woodham and Bethan Roberts, respectively, as Reading turned up the heat.
Carter had a great opportunity to put Reading in front, but the ball into her bounced over her head as she stretched to meet it.
As the clock ticked down and the 90th minute approached, it was Birmingham that came closest to sealing the victory as Christie Murray’s thunderous attempt on goal smashed off the Reading bar. Minutes later and into injury time, Chaplen laid the ball off to Carter in front of goal, but the striker’s shot was slightly scuffed and Hampton collected the ball just before the whistle blew for full-time.
Full-time: Birmingham City Women 1-1 Reading FC Women
Birmingham City Women: Hampton, Mayling, Scott, Mace (Whipp 77’), Murray, Littlejohn, Kelly, Brougham, Walker, Napier, Holloway.
Substitutes not used: Green, Whitehouse, Murray.
Goals: Mace (7’)
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Bartrip, Cooper, Woodham (Harries 73’), Roberts (Leine 73’), Rowe, Harding, James, Williams, Carter, Eikeland (Chaplen 65’).
Substitutes not used: Nayler, Childerhouse, Jeon, Flores.
Goals: Rowe (64’)
Yellow cards: Bartrip (28’), Williams (54’)
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