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Reading FC Women 1 (Ward pen 74) Sunderland 1 (Mead 9)
Reading FC Women and Sunderland are still in search of their first FA WSL win of the season after battling out a 1-1 draw at Wycombe Wanderers FC's Adams Park.
It was penalties from Beth Mead and Helen Ward which led to the final stalemate in these clubs' third meeting of the season. Sunderland will probably be the happier despite losing their lead established in the ninth minute, as Megan Beer's dismissal for handball saving Shelly Cox's goalbound volley on 74 minutes left them a player short for the last portion of a tight contest.
Reading started the better but were penalised when Mead went down in the area. Mary Earps pulled off a fine save to tip the penalty on to the post but the rebound fell perfectly for Mead to tuck home. Helen Ward shot wide from Reading's first real chance on 17 minutes, then Becky Jane went close from 20 yards.
Sunderland nearly doubled their lead on 24 minutes when Victoria Williams beat the defence to a low free kick but the effort flew just wide. Amber Stobbs had a very good first half on the Reading right and one run and cross was nearly converted by Emma Follis. Stobbs then volleyed wide when a Molly Bartrip corner reached her beyond the far post on 34 minutes as Reading had created the better chances in an entertaining half.
Reading's Rachel Rowe had the first shot of the second half, driving a 20-yard effort narrowly wide on 53 minutes. The hosts forced several corners but it was a Stobbs cross which nearly led to an equaliser as Ward controlled well but was tackled in the act of shooting six yards out by Sunderland skipper Steph Bannon on 63 minutes.
Reading were seemingly starting to run out of ideas as Sunderland defended comfortably and Rachael Laws had little to do. Another corner from the right changed the game. Cox met the ball on the run only for her shot to be stopped by Beer's hand on the line. The young Sunderland defender was sent off and Ward converted the spot kick emphatically high to Laws' right.
Apart from the occasional flurry from Mead and Stephanie Roche, Sunderland had offered little in attack before the equaliser and clearly with a numerical disadvantage, they were mainly concerned with preserving their away point. This was achieved with good defensive covering by the reshaped back line and one brave save by Laws at the feet of Ward which required lengthy treatment for the keeper. Five added minutes saw no further alarms and both teams added a point to their season's tally.
Reading FC Women: Mary Earps, Rebecca Jane, Kirsty McGee, Molly Bartrip, Shelly Cox (sub Melissa Fletcher 87mins), Kayleigh Hines, Rachel Rowe, Amber Stobbs, Lauren Bruton (sub Laura May Walkley 65mins), Emma Follis, Helen Ward. Subs not used: Grace Moloney, Harriet Scott, Charlie Estcourt, Nia Jones, Zoe Cunningham.
Sunderland: Rachael Laws, Abby Holmes, Stephanie Bannon, Victoria Williams (sub Charlotte Potts 50mins), Megan Beer, Lucy Staniforth, Rachel Furness (sub Abbey Joice 66mins), Keira Ramshaw, Brooke Chaplen, Stephanie Roche, Beth Mead. Subs not used: Kelly McDougall, Emma Kelly, Madeleine Hill.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Beth Mead takes on Molly Bartrip
(middle) Helen Ward is challenged by Rachel Furness
(bottom) Abbey Joice under pressure from Shelly Cox
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