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Women's Football News
Watford 0 Reading FC Women 4 (Kirby 11,70,89, Bruton 83)
Reading took control of third place in WSL 2 with a 4-0 away win over Watford, rising England star Fran Kirby notching a hat-trick and Lauren Bruton getting the other goal.
Watford worked hard throughout and the final result was harsh on the Golden Girls but the destination of the points was never in doubt once the second goal had gone in around the 70 minute mark. Despite the difficult weather conditions prevailing the first half, both teams contributed to an even contest with only a wonder goal from Kirby separating the teams. As the storm eased after the break, so Reading found more gaps in the home defence which were ruthlessly exploited.
Kirby was in typical form early on, picking up the ball from deep and driving at the defence. One such run took her past two challenges before delivering a wicked cross-shot from 20 yards which flew high to the right of Lauren Davey's dive for a brilliant opener on eleven minutes.
Watford tried to respond with early balls to wide players Stacie Donnelly and Megan Wynne but apart from a few corners and the occasional cross towards Jo Wilson, the Reading defence were
comfortable. Watford were also strong in defence, closing down Kirby and containing the threat of Lauren Bruton on the right. It was Melissa Fletcher who went closest to scoring a second on 41 minutes, stabbing just wide after a fine build up saw a cross reach her ten yards out.
Reading returned with real menace, Kirby playing in Bonnie Horwood who was denied by a brave Davey save, blocking at her feet. The Watford keeper then distinguished herself with a fine tip over from a powerful drive by Becky Jane on the hour. Watford had a sight of goal but Nicky Davies was quickly out to claim at Wynne's feet.
A double substitution nearly paid instant dividends for the visitors as Leigh Nicol and Rebekah Haines combined well to set up Bruton for a shot deflected wide.
Bruton set up the second for Kirby who clipped a low shot past the advancing Davey with 20 minutes remaining. Emma Beckett had a free kick for the home team which Davies tipped on to the bar, resulting in a scramble in front of the Reading net but no one could finish for Watford whilst Kirby was inches away from her hat-trick at the other end on 75 minutes, firing just wide from distance.
Bruton scored the goal her efforts deserved on 83 minutes as she latched on to a wayward pass and netted at the second attempt after an initial block by Davey. Georgie Giddings was very close to a fourth, steering a shot inches wide but a mix up from the resultant goal kick allowed Kirby to pounce, advance on goal and curl a shot beyond Davey from close range for her hat-trick on 89 minutes.
Watford sub Magda Mosengo nearly scored a consolation in added time, driving just wide from 15 yards but clear sights of the Reading goal had been few and far between for which credit goes to a solid defensive display from a much changed Reading back four and assured work from keeper Davies.
After a very good win at Yeovil last week, Watford were brought back to earth by the pace and finishing power of their opponents. In truth however, for long periods of the first 75 minutes there was little to choose between the teams in terms of creativity and ball retention, it was the constant pressure imposed by the Reading midfield and attack which led to mistakes which were then converted with great efficiency.
Watford: Lauren Davey, Georgie Mays (sub Hollie Wride 29mins), Chloe Gunn, Josie Green, Renee Hector, Leighanne Robe, Emma Beckett, Stacey Donnelly (sub Magda Mosengo 78mins), Jo Wilson (sub Kim Farrow 54mins), Cally Rowell, Megan Wynne. Subs not used: Shayla Burgess, Ellie Butterwick, Paige Logie, Ella Hill.
Reading FC Women: Nicola Davies, Rebecca Jane, Harriet Scott (sub Eloise Wilson 45mins), Bonnie Horwood, Georgie Giddings, Molly Bartrip, Lauren Bruton, Kirsty McGee, Melissa Fletcher (sub Rebekah Haines 63mins), Lois Roche (sub Leigh Nicol 63mins), Francesca Kirby. Subs not used: Grace Moloney, Laura May Walkley, Cheryl Williams, Bianca Bragg.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Francesca Kirby takes on Leighanne Robe
(middle) Rebecca Jane gets in a tackle on Megan Wynne
(bottom) Lauren Bruton scores past Lauren Davey
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