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Reading FC Women 5 (Walkley 4, Connor-Iommi og 16, Bruton 21, Fletcher 24,89) Oxford Utd 0
Reading returned to winning ways with a convincing five-goal victory against local rivals Oxford United on Sunday afternoon.
Jayne Ludlow made six changes from the side that lost heavily to Villa last weekend. Grace Moloney, Laura May Walkley, Eloise Wilson, Melissa Fletcher and Rebecca Jane all came back into the starting line up whilst Megan Ryan was handed her Reading debut.
Reading got off to a flying start when Laura May Walkley netted her first goal for the Royals as she fired in from inside the box after some defensive confusion from a Kirby cross.
Oxford responded with a couple of good chances from Lauren Allison. Both came from clever attacking play down the right wing and crosses in but both times Allison was unable to direct her shots goalwards and properly test Royals keeper Moloney.
They soon regretted their missed chances when Reading doubled their lead in the 16th minute after Connor-Iommi headed into her own net. Shelly Cox whipped in a dangerous curling free kick but Connor-Iommi's attempted clearance managed to loop over the head of the U's keeper to double Reading's lead.
Within five minutes Lauren Bruton extended their commanding lead to three goals. Fran Kirby played Bruton through on goal with a perfectly weighted ball which Bruton finished with superb skill past the despairing dive of Demi Lambourne.
Oxford's start almost went from bad to worse when Fran Kirby broke free of the Oxford defence to go one-on-one with the U's keeper. Lambourne came out of her box and clumsily challenged Kirby off the ball only to receive a yellow card. The decision was kind on Oxford particularly as they didn't have a substitute goalkeeper on the bench if Lambourne was to be sent off.
The action packed opening to the game continued when, in the 25th minute, Melissa Fletcher fired in a beautiful sidefooted effort from the edge of the area to increase Reading's lead to 4-0. Kirby showed her international class and completely outpaced her marker down the left wing before squaring to Fletcher who made the rest look easy.
Oxford's defence looked incredibly shaky throughout the first half and were lucky to go in only four behind. Ellie Wilson played a lovely through ball to Jane, wide on the right, with her cross intercepted by the Oxford defence only for the clearance to fall straight to Bruton, but she failed to find the target and grab her second of the game.
The second half didn't live up to the thrilling, action packed first-half, perhaps Reading relaxed a little knowing that a victory was ensured. Allison continued to look dangerous for Oxford, she looked a set above the rest of Oxford showing great pace and skill on the ball.
Within ten minutes of the restart, Kirby was replaced by Cheryl Williams with the victory in the bag. Kirby performed brilliantly throughout the match assisting in three goals.
Connor-Iommi was close to making up for her earlier own goal as her chipped free kick crashed onto the bar and the danger was eventually cleared by the resolute Reading defence.
Just before the final whistle Reading added their fifth goal of the match courtesy of Fletcher's second of the game. Lauren Bruton chipped the ball into Fletcher's path who beautifully flicked it past the keeper.
The comfortable win was vital for Reading after last week's poor showing against Villa. It was a very impressive team performance with clinical finishing along with a strong defensive back line and a clean sheet.
Reading FC Women: Grace Moloney, Rebecca Jane (sub Bianca Bragg 63mins), Shelly Cox, Megan Ryan, Molly Bartrip, Eloise Wilson (sub Harriet Scott 73mins), Laura May Walkley, Bonnie Horwood, Melissa Fletcher, Lauren Bruton, Francesca Kirby (sub Cheryl Williams 53mins).
Oxford United: Demi Lambourne, Jemma Connor-Iommi, Laura Nichol, Kayleigh Hines (sub Gemma Simmonds 70mins), Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Amy Chivers, Katie Stanley, Lauren Allison, Laura Low (sub Holly Pickett 70mins), Helen King (sub Ella Franklin-Fraiture 65mins), Katherine Nutman.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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