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Reading FC Women 3 (Bruton 79,pen 90, Cox 90) Aston Villa 1 (Robinson 87)
Four late goals gave a dramatic conclusion to the resumption of Reading Women and Aston Villa's WSL2 seasons at Farnborough.
The match appeared to be drifting towards a goalless conclusion with Villa, playing with ten players after a first half sending off of Katy Moran, comfortably holding off the hosts. A 79th minute goal from Lauren Bruton then started the goal rush. After a late superb equaliser seemed to have earned Villa a draw, Reading found a way to clinch the win with two further goals to extend their impressive record at their new home ground.
Both teams showed few signs of rustiness in an entertaining first half. Bruton was very lively on the Reading right whilst Shelley Cox, who had an excellent match, provided the width on the opposite side whilst also dealing with the threat of Olivia Fergusson and new Villa loan signing Katie Wilkinson. Villa's best efforts came from a Maisie Baker header and a Sherry McCue shot from distance, both well saved by Nicky Davies. At the other end, Caitlin Leach dealt well with efforts from Georgie Giddings and Bruton.
Moran was dismissed after picking up two yellow cards, the first for a clash with Molly Bartrip, then for a trip on Bruton. Ironically, Reading looked less and less effective against a depleted Villa side with the match reaching a stalemate. The impressive Baker and Jade Richards in defence bottled up the centre whilst McCue in particular was tireless in her efforts to link up defence and attack.
Cheryl Williams found the key to unlock the Villa rearguard, playing in Bruton for a good finish. The visitors responded with a brilliant top corner effort from fully 30 yards by Alicia Robinson with little time remaining.
It was Cox who broke Villa hearts as the game went into additional time. A free kick wide on the right was measured perfectly beyond Leach for a stunning left foot finish from 25 yards.
Bruton put the icing on the cake by winning and converting a penalty in the final minute to give the scoreline a very flattering look for the hosts. In truth they had not found their best form and Villa had played with heart and spirit to nearly clinch a draw against the odds. It took a moment of class from the left foot of Cox to clinch the day for the hosts.
Reading FC Women: Nicola Davies, Rebecca Jane, Shelly Cox, Bonnie Horwood, Ciara Grant (sub Rebekah Haines 45mins), Molly Bartrip, Lauren Bruton, Georgina Giddings, Cheryl Williams, Lois Roche (sub Melissa Fletcher 60mins), Kirsty McGee.
Aston Villa: Caitlin Leach, Elisha N'Dow, Hayley Crackle (sub Natasha Baptiste 84mins), Sherry McCue, Jade Richards, Maisie Baker, Sarah Mayling, Katy Moran, Katie Wilkinson (sub Maddy Cusack 64mins), Alicia Robinson, Olivia Fergusson (sub Carly Davies 74mins).
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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