All the build-up for Reading FC Women’s tie against Birmingham City was based upon the fact they could establish a club record and go four games unbeaten with a win. That itself seemed like a straightforward task for the Royals given Birmingham are currently in a relegation scrap with newly-promoted Leicester and losing.
But Reading don’t like to make things easy for themselves and a lapse in concentration saw Birmingham go one up inside five minutes as a well-taken corner by Lucy Quinn was met by the head of Gemma Lawley. Reading looked like they were still in first gear and struggling to get out of it. Half an hour of chaotic play from both sides ensued and some smart link-up play by Libby Smith and Jade Pennock saw Pennock through on goal and one on one with Grace Moloney to make it two. Moloney looked in considerable discomfort post-collision and a long break in play ensued before she was stretchered off the pitch and replaced by Reading’s number two Rhiannon Stewart.
Reading will have been forgiven for being distracted for the rest of the game after the incident but they only seemed to use it as motivation. Deep into stoppage time in the first half and a slick set-piece by Lily Woodham met with the towering head of Justine Vanhaevermaet to knock home just before the break, a first goal for the Belgian.
Reading were well and truly out of that struggling first gear in the second half and at the 48th minute Emma Harries proved her battling strength in the box as she was brought down by Harriet Scott and Veatriki Sarri and Reading were awarded a penalty. Pinpoint accuracy from Tash Dowie, who had missed a spot-kick the week before, and it was all square at 2-2 as she fired it into the back of the net. Less than ten minutes later and a sensational run down the left flank by Deanne Rose, saw her perfectly weight a ball into the box for Emma Harries to pick out of the air with ease and volley it home to surely put the game to bed.
Reading proved in control for much of the remaining 35 minutes, with Ellie Ryan-Doyle the only player to really test Stewart in goal, but the nineteen-year-old collected the attempt with ease.
Full Time: Reading FC Women 3-2 Birmingham City Women
Next: The Royals are next in action when they face Brighton & Hove Albion in the Fourth Round Proper of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup on the 30th of January.