Reading FC Women are back in action following the international break, as they travel to take on Bristol City for a Monday evening kick-off under the lights at Ashton Gate.
The league clash against the Robins will be the first time Kelly Chambers’ side has seen action since their 1-1 draw against Everton at Madejski Stadium on February 14th.
In a clichéd assessment of the match against Everton last time out, it really was a game of two halves, as the Royals dominated the first frame but were only able to net once courtesy of Rachel Rowe. Everton then went onto control the majority of the second-half, with a late goal from Nicoline Sorensen levelling the score.
The match did mark a four game unbeaten streak for Reading that also includes draws against Arsenal and Aston Villa, as well as a victory away at Manchester United.
The fantastic run of form in an unbeaten February has earned manager Kelly Chambers a nomination for Barclays FA Women’s Super League Manager of the Month. This will be an award Chambers will be hoping to pick up alongside Captain Natasha Harding, who sees herself nominated for Player of the Month.
The recent run of form sees Reading sitting in 6th place, just three points behind Everton, however the toffees have a game in hand.
Bristol City’s recent form guide
When the Robins played at the Madejski in early December they were bottom of the table with just one solitary point from their first six league fixtures. They remain rooted to the foot of the table and, in their seven league fixtures since their 1-1 draw with the Royals, have picked up just four more points. Their first league victory of the campaign came in a 3-0 home win over Brighton & Hove Albion and then the side came away from West Ham with a point from a 1-1 draw. Unfortunately for the Robins, the heavy defeats have continued, losing 6-1 at Manchester United and 5-0 at home to Chelsea. They lost at home by a 4-0 score-line to both Aston Villa and West Ham, and lost by the same score line at Everton. Their goals conceded column now stands at 55 from 14 league games, scoring 10 times themselves, with leading scorer Ebony Salmon bagging 5 of those.
The Continental Cup, however, has been a different story for Monday’s opponents. Having topped their group, two goals from Salmon gave them a 2-1 home win in the Quarter Final over Aston Villa. With home advantage in the Semi-Final, they overcame Championship outfit Leicester City 1-0 to secure a place in next weekend’s final, where they will play Chelsea at Watford FC.
The Robins’ squad details – an update
The main personnel change at City since their 1-1 draw at The Madejski in early December is that Manager Tanya Oxtoby has handed over the reins on a temporary basis whilst she is on maternity leave. Former West Ham United, Liverpool and Chelsea manager Matt Beard has taken over proceedings as Head Coach. On the playing front, attacking midfielder Molly Pike has arrived in the West Country on loan for the remainder of the 2020-21 campaign. The 20-year-old joined from fellow WSL outfit Everton Women where she made 17 first team league appearances in her first 18 months with the Toffees. Another loan signing – but one that won’t feature on Monday – is Kiera Skeels, Reading’s 20-year-old centre-back. Kiera made an instant impact at City, netting the only goal against Leicester City that secured the Robins’ place in next weekend’s Continental Cup final. One recent departure has been Australian Chloe Logarzo who has joined the newly formed NSWL outfit Kansas City. Logarzo netted four league and cup goals during her spell at Bristol.
A Previous away fixture revisited
The Robins finished runners-up in WSL2 in 2016, and their first topflight meeting with the Royals took place at Stoke Gifford Stadium on October 28th, 2017. Kelly Chambers’ side turned on the class and returned home with a convincing 5-0 victory. It took the visitors just three minutes to go ahead, Fara Williams capitalising on a mix-up in the City defence to rifle home a shot via the underside of the crossbar. Rachel Rowe made it 2-0 on 17 minutes, scoring with a powerful shot which went under keeper Sophie Baggaley and in off the post. Goal number three came shortly afterwards when Williams turned provider, setting up Remi Allen to side-foot home from close range. It could have got worse for City but Brooke Chaplen’s penalty, awarded after a foul on Allen by Frankie Brown, hit the crossbar. The pattern continued in the second half and goal number 4 arrived in the 69th minute when Jade Moore netted with a crisp half-volley from 20 yards. It was not all one-way traffic though, and Mary Earps made some good saves to keep City at bay. The scoring was completed 12 minutes from time, Rowe completing her double when her ferocious low angled drive flew past Baggaley into the far corner.
Bristol City Women v Reading FC Women | Ashton Gate | Monday 8th March | 8.15pm | Live on BT Sport | Audio commentary available on the FA Player.