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Reading FC Women 1 Coventry City 0
Nikki Watts scored the only goal of the game as Reading opened up their National Division campaign with victory over newly promoted Coventry City at Tadley.
However Coventry were left wondering how they returned home empty handed after a string of second half chances which they were unable to take.
Both teams were fielding several new signings in their line ups and it was Reading who settled the quicker, Watts firing a free kick over the bar. Coventry produced their first main attack as Danni Saulter broke down the right but her dangerous cross eluded her oncoming team mates.
Reading continued to have the better of the first half and Coventry goalkeeper Sue Wood pulled off a great save from a far post header by Jasmine Brewster, then Watts forced another good stop by Wood. At the other end, Leanne McKenna headed over from a corner as the first half ended goalless.
Coventry produced their best effort so far at the start of the second half as Maz Gauntlett's shot from the edge of the area was well saved by Grace Moloney. Emily Simpkins then fired a 25-yard strike inches over the bar as the visitors began to look dangerous going forward.
However Reading responded a minute later by taking the lead. Brewster broke down the wing and her low centre picked out Watts, who took one touch before finding the corner of the net with a left foot shot from ten yards.
Coventry almost got back on level terms moments later when Milly Durrant broke down the left and crossed for Gauntlett to turn a shot just past the far post.
Reading enjoyed a good spell with Emma Delves firing over after a Megan Alexander cross had been half cleared and another centre from Brewster picking out Kerrie Ryan whose header was deflected just over.
Simpkins was having a fine game in the centre of midfield for the Sky Blues with a good range of passing and she released Durrant on goal with a shrewd through ball. The winger rounded Moloney but found the angle too tight and her shot hit the side netting. Durrant was through on goal again soon afterwards from another great pass by Simpkins but this time Moloney came off her line and pulled off a fine point blank save.
At the other end, the lively Watts brought out another save from Wood but Coventry continued to press hard and came even closer as Saulter latched onto Kate Ward's pass and her shot beat the diving Moloney but came back off the post.
Helen Dermody hit the side netting after being played in by Kerry Bartlett and McKenna headed over from a Simpkins corner. Reading were hanging on now and captain Kelly Chambers, despite having been hampered with injury, came to her team's rescue with a good saving tackle after Bartlett had made her way into the area.
McKenna had impressed greatly in the middle for Coventry and she was to go close once again when she headed inches over from Simpkins' cross. Reading worked hard to hold onto their lead with Amy Shaw and Chambers holding things together in defence and the Royals withstood the pressure to close the game out for victory.
Reading produced a great example of the team spirit which helped them claim third place last season and look like being a hard side to beat this time around. Coventry will play much worse than this and win in other matches but produced enough to show that they should hold their own in a higher division.
Reading FC Women: Grace Moloney, Stacey Wiggins, Megan Alexander, Emma Delves, Amy Shaw, Kelly Chambers, Trudi Harbinson (sub Mel Fletcher 70mins), Kerrie Ryan (sub Harriet Scott 77mins), Nikki Watts, Alice Palmer, Jasmine Brewster.
Coventry City: Sue Wood, Kayleigh Steele, Kate Ward, Leanne McKenna, Natasha Lynch, Kerrie Manley, Danni Saulter (sub Gina Goulding 70mins), Emily Simpkins, Maz Gauntlett (sub Kerry Bartlett 64mins), Helen Dermody, Milly Durrant.
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