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Women's Football News
Reading FC Women 0 Cardiff City 2
Cardiff City extended a twelve match unbeaten League run stretching back to February and condemned Reading to their fifth straight defeat with a 2-0 win at Tadley.
A solid team performance was given a winning gloss with two fine goals, one in each half. Reading's slump after two early victories had been caused by defensive frailties, with 22 goals conceded in the four previous defeats. This time it was a failure to convert the many chances their good approach play created which hurt the Royals as they fell into the bottom two of the National Division.
Both goalkeepers were brought into action within the first three minutes, Rhian Nokes turning away a Nikki Watts drive and Grace Moloney doing likewise from Ellie Smith. League top scorer Watts was at the heart of most of Reading's best moves, delivering a series of dangerous corners from both flanks but missed a good chance on 20 minutes in a one on one with Nokes. The Welsh international then made a fine save from Melissa Fletcher as the home team dominated.
They were caught by an opportunist Nicola Cousins goal on 26 minutes. Just onside wide on the right, Cousins sent a low snap shot wide of the advancing Moloney from 25 yards for the opener, against the run of play. Kelly Chambers twice went close with headers from Watts corners as Reading continued to press but the Bluebirds went to the break in front.
Reading continued to impress on the resumption, moving the ball fluently and fully extending an impressive back four where Terri Beddows and Kayleigh Green formed an effective central barrier against the Royals' best efforts.
A fine ball from Becky Jane set Watts free on 53 minutes but Nokes denied her with her feet and a second effort hit the side netting. Jane shot just over, then Nokes dived to turn away a last ditch defensve block after Watts had opened up the defence on the left. Chambers again headed just over from a Watts corner before Cardiff's Natasha Harding missed a golden opportunity to give the Welsh side some breathing space, lobbing wide from 15 yards when clean through. They nearly paid dearly as Watts was again inches wide from close in as Nokes closed her down on 69 minutes.
Cardiff made two substitutions and regained a measure of control as Reading finally ran out of attacking ideas in the final twenty minutes. It was Harding who made the game safe on 85 minutes, curling a delightful shot into the far corner from wide on the left.
The commitments of Cardiff's many international players have led to the postponement of fixtures and will continue to do so, meaning that the National Division newcomers will struggle to challenge at the top of the table for a while. The momentum which led to promotion last season seems to have continued into the new campaign and they will offer a test to all their rivals. Reading showed a lot of spirit and will hope to convert their chances against fellow strugglers Watford next week.
Reading FC Women: Grace Moloney, Stacey Wiggins, Kelly Chambers, Emma Delves, Gemma Sims, Charlotte Young, Stacey Donnelly, Melissa Fletcher, Becky Jane, Nikki Watts, Alice Palmer. Subs: Jasmine Brewster, Megan Alexander, Amy Shaw.
Cardiff City: Rhian Nokes, Amie Lea, Lauren Townsend, Kayleigh Green, Terri Beddows, Danielle Broadhurst, Nia Jones, Sophie Ingle, Natasha Harding, Nicola Cousins, Ellie Smith. Subs: Zoe Atkins, Steph Williams, Annie Pritchard.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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