Put simply tonight was a bit gutting for Reading FC Women. If that’s enough detail for you then thanks for reading and see you next time.
However if you feel suitably intrigued and want to know more then you’ve come to the right place. Because I have details. And here they are…
Off the back of 7 games unbeaten in the league, Liverpool would have come into tonight’s match expecting to take something away from it. Equally, having put in a very good account of themselves throughout this season, Reading would have felt there was something here for the taking tonight. Billed by
some one Royals fan as #threepointThursday the potential for success was definitely in the air.
Royals named an unchanged line up to the one that faced Manchester City a few days ago, with the only alterations coming on the bench where Kayleigh Hines replaced Lois Roche and Sophie Perry replaced Amber Stobbs. Although the team and formation were the same, Reading seemed to approach the game with a bit more attacking menace, possibly borne out of a greater expectation of a victory.
Passing was generally a bit more speedy and direct today out of defence and the Reading team generally had more success in their respective one to one battles.
Reading definitely had the better of the opening half hour, playing some promising approach play, but as has been the case a few times this season the final pass or shot just wasn’t enough to cause the opposition keeper enough problems. Exactly what to pin that down to is hard to say, but as always it certainly wasn’t through a lack of effort. Emma Follis put in some good balls into the box but we don’t get as many bodies in there this season as we did last year so those balls tended to evade the lone striker today.
Molly Bartrip had an effort on goal which brought a stretching save from Siobhan Chamberlain which could so nearly have been deflected in by an onrushing attacker, and Lauren Bruton had a decent effort that went straight at the keeper unfortunately.
As the half went on Liverpool got back into it, and by half time things had swung in their favour to a degree. Liverpool themselves began getting some good deliveries into the box, but these were generally dealt with well by the Royals’ defence. Laura Coombs nearly gave them the lead but her effort came back off the woodwork and Tash Harding brought a good save out of Mary Earps. At half time honours were even, with all to play for.
Unlike the Manchester City game, Reading came out brightly for the second half today and applied some good pressure, most notably when Jade Boho-Sayo (pictured top) brought a good save from Chamberlain as she fired across goal. Jade was replaced shortly afterwards on 61 minutes, again by Melissa Fletcher and with just over 20 minutes to go, Reading had a penalty appeal turned down following a sliding tackle on Follis in the box. The referee, who had let quite a few things go today, adjudged that a corner was the correct outcome on this occasion, but she did award the Royals a penalty a couple of minutes later. Given it was right down the other end of the pitch from us I’m really not sure what the penalty was for, but up stepped Lauren Bruton for her 2nd penalty in the last 5 matches.
Although Lauren went the same way as last time, the outcome was different this time around as Chamberlain made a good save down to her left. It was a tough pill to swallow as Reading had deserved to lead at that stage. Reading had another golden opportunity a few minutes later though when a Fletcher cross was deflected off the post and somehow evaded Emma Follis from close range. At that stage it felt like perhaps it wasn’t going to be our night again and Liverpool brought a fine save from Earps with 10 minutes remaining from a header.
But heartbreak was to follow shortly afterwards when a cross into the box from Katie Zelem turned into a floated shot, and the outstretched arm of Earps could do nothing to keep the ball from drifting agonisingly into the inside of the net, inches inside the post. As the final whistle blew a few minutes later the overwhelming feeling was one of frustration to have come so close to taking all 3 points to then come away empty handed. Gutted really was the word.
There were positives to take from the game. Harriet Scott stood out again as having an excellent game, at one stage looking like a long haired, blonde version of Messi down the wing, between solid crunchiness in defence. Remi Allen was extremely combative in midfield and looked classy, Becky Jane was as calm and solid as always and both Emma and Lauren looked very dangerous in patches.
On another day, where goals had been more free-flowing of late, we could have won with a bit to spare. But today we probably didn’t test the keeper quite enough to take the 3 points and we still haven’t quite found that killer instinct in the final third – but we absolutely didn’t deserve to lose.
The reaction from the players at the final whistle told you everything you needed to know about the game. A really tough one to take for everyone involved and emotions were certainly running high.
Next up are two matches against Donny and two against Chelsea where our fate will be decided. With Donny looking woeful at present we are still very much in the driving seat to stay up. A win would definitely be nice before the season is out though. It’s the very least the players and fans have deserved after a tough season!