Reading FC Women take on Aston Villa tomorrow in a rare Saturday afternoon clash at Banks’s Stadium in the FA Barclays Women’s Super League.
The Royals are coming off the back of a fantastic performance at Madejski last weekend that saw them draw 1-1 with title contenders Arsenal.
The Royals went ahead after just 4 minutes courtesy of a coolly taken goal from Lauren Bruton, before having a long spell in control, where they pressed and pressured Arsenal relentlessly. The Gunners managed to pull a goal back just before half-time through the league’s top scorer Vivianne Miedema, but Reading saw out the remainder of the contest very much Arsenal’s equal, to secure a well-deserved point.
Kelly Chambers’ Royals will be looking to keep the momentum going when they take on the WSL’s newest addition Aston Villa, who were most recently on the wrong end of a 7-0 scoreline away to Manchester City last weekend.
Current form sees the Royals in 6th place in the WSL, 3 points behind Everton in 5th but having played 2 additional games. Villa sit in 11th place but have only played 9 fixtures; gaining 6 points thus far.
In Villa’s opening fixture at home to Manchester City earlier in the season, defensive fragilities cost Gemma Davies’ side, as they went down 2-0 at home. That continued with a 3-1 defeat to the Royals at the Madejski followed by a disappointing 6-0 home defeat at the hands of then in-form Everton. Since then, however, they have won twice on their travels; a 2-0 victory at Brighton & Hove Albion followed by a convincing 4-0 win at Bristol City. The 7-0 defeat against Manchester City meant that Villa are yet to take a point from seven games against the current top-eight.
Villa found life in the group stages of the FA Women's Continental League Cup easier when they competed against Championship sides Sheffield United, Coventry United and Durham Ladies. Villa topped the group, their form including a 9-0 away success at Coventry. Hopes were high when the quarter final draw pitted them against Bristol City, a side they had beaten convincingly in the WSL. However, it was not to be with Villa losing 2-1 on the night.
Gemma Davies will be hoping that the recent signing of Japan captain Mana Iwabuchi will boost the side’s goal scoring record. The 27-year-old Japan skipper has scored 29 times in 72 appearances for her country and was a World Cup winner in 2011. There are other internationals in the Villa squadtoo; Goalkeeper Lisa Weiß joined from Olympique Lyonnais last July and has 4 caps for Germany. Meanwhile, Centre Back Anita Asante has 70 caps for the Lionesses. Forward Stine Larsen has 48 caps for Denmark scoring 14 goals. Another forward, Diana Silva has made 58 appearances for her native Portugal with 13 goals. Reading fans will remember midfielder/winger Emma Follis who netted 19 goals in 39 appearances for the Royals. Emma, a former England U23 international, re-joined Villa after a spell with Birmingham City. She is one of several former Blues players who have made the short move to Villa, others being captain Marisa Ewers, midfielder Chloe Arthur, and forward Shania Hayles.
The two sides met at the Madejski in the aforementioned clash on the second weekend of the current season. It was an important game as both sides were looking to bounce back after losing their first match of the season. It was Reading who were successful when a commanding first half performance resulted in a 3-1 home victory. They opened the scoring when Amalie Eikeland swept home after a scything through-ball from Fara Williams. Villa grew into the game and Chloe Arthur went close to an equaliser, but her well-struck shot flashed past Grace Moloney's post. Two quickfire goals just before the break through Lauren Bruton and Williams' 'Panenka'-style penalty put Kelly Chambers’ side firmly in the driving seat. Villa struggled to create any chances in the opening stages of the second half and Reading almost made it 4-0 on 65 minutes when Eikeland’s effort looped over the bar. Stine Larsen's late penalty strike was a consolation for Villa, who returned home still looking for their first points of the season.
Aston Villa Women v Reading FC Women | Saturday 23rd January | 12.30pm | Banks’s Stadium | Watch all the action LIVE on the FA Player