They Came, They Saw, They Got Another Draw!
Another lovely sunny day at Adam’s Park today and another hard-fought point on the board for the Royals as they edge their way very slowly towards safety. Today saw the visit of star-studded and history-drenched Notts County, with no less that 5 England regulars in their starting line up.
Reading kept faith with the same starting 11 that had performed well in the 1-1 draw with Birmingham last Sunday, with Mary Earps in goal, Sophie Perry and Becky Jane at full back, Kirsty McGee and Kylie Davies at centre back, Melissa Fletcher and Emma Follis on the wings, Jade Boho-Sayo up front and Rachel Rowe, Kayleigh Hines and Lauren Bruton in the middle of the park.
The bright weather was reflected on the pitch with a lovely opening spell from both sides. Reading can consider themselves unlucky with a number of refereeing decisions today, the first of which came after Emma Follis went tumbling in the box after 5 minutes, leading to a few appeals for a penalty.
Although nothing was given, Emma continued her excellent recent form and drew a really good save from Megan Walsh in the County goal a few minutes later. Jade Boho-Sayo had a couple of half chances shortly afterwards but couldn’t get her efforts on target.
Midway through the first half The Royals had another two penalty shouts turned down, once when Kayleigh Hines headed against an outstretched County arm from close range at the back post following a corner, the other when another Boho-Sayo shot was blocked by the raised hand of a defender who had gone to ground in the area. Again the strong appeals for a penalty were ignored by the referee, even though the second handball was so clear it could have been seen from space by a partially sighted monkey.
The failure of the referee to award at least one of the stone wall penalties seemed to spur on Notts County and they finished the first half the stronger of the two sides. Firstly Ellen White should have done better from close range, before Buet opened the scoring for the visitors on 39 minutes with a sweetly struck curling free kick after she had been brought down by Rachel Rowe a few metres outside the area. Jo Potter had a further chance before the break but fired over.
Reading FC Women 0 Notts County Ladies 1
So with a one goal deficit to overcome it was to be a tough ask for Reading in the second half against a physically strong and pacey County side. However, Emma Follis really came to life as the second half began, making a number of decent runs down the wing and beating defenders for fun, adorned as usual in in her rather complicated leg taping like a very talented long-legged fly caught in a particularly adventurous spider’s web.
Recent signing Remi Allen came on for Melissa Fletcher on the hour mark and showed some good intensity, before Follis was rewarded for her excellent second half with a superbly struck dribble and goal on 65 minutes, having cut in well from the left and curled in a powerful shot which left Walsh well beaten. For those old enough to remember playing Sensible Soccer in the 90s it was the type of goal that keepers could never save as they seemed programmed to fall over with any long range curling shot and true to form Walsh had no chance!
It was a goal worthy of winning a match, but despite Reading’s best efforts it wasn’t destined to be. Fans’ favourite Lois Roche made a very welcome appearance on 75 minutes when she came on for Kayleigh Hines and shortly afterwards the Royals had a great chance to grab a winner when the ball was cut back to Boho-Sayo in the box after some excellent work from the very lively Lauren Bruton, but unfortunately Jade couldn’t find the net.
The pace and skill of Jess Clarke had proven difficult for Reading throughout the game and it was more of her trickery and skill that led to a few County chances towards the death. First, Ellen White forced a save out of Mary Earps on 85 minutes and then Clarke herself had a shot blocked by Davies a minute later.
The best chance to take the 3 points fell to County right at the death with a series of shots from very close range, with Earps getting behind the first and Becky Jane miraculously keeping out the resulting two follow-up shots on the line. Unbelievable!
That was to be the last key action of the match, but Reading can be very satisfied with taking a point against a very talented County side, full of top quality internationals. It’s testament to how far Reading have progressed that they will be disappointed not to have taken all 3 points today and they certainly could have done so with a bit more composure in the final third. You feel that once Boho-Sayo gets amongst the goals she will get a shed load, but for now it’s the wingers that are delivering the goals and a well-organised defence at the other end that is securing the points.
Full time: Reading FC Women 1 Notts County Ladies 1
Special mention to both sets of supporters today who provided a great atmosphere for the game, but although the teams shared the points on the pitch the Reading fans definitely took all 3 points on the terraces!
Next up is another home game – this time on Wednesday evening against the frankly scary Manchester City who have been scoring goals for fun and sit on top of WSL1. Reading will need to be at their very best to get anything against City, but for now they have moved on to 6 points and up a place to 7th in WSL1, 6 points clear of bottom-placed Doncaster Belles.
Reading FC Women: Earps, Jane, McGee, Davies, Perry, Rowe, Hines (Roche 76′) Bruton, Fletcher (Allen 59′), Boho Sayo, Follis
Main image: Emma Follis pictured by Neil Graham.