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Reading FC Women 1 (Fletcher 47) Birmingham City 1 (Linden 74)
Reading's search for an FA WSL 1 victory continues after a 1-1 home draw against Birmingham City.
Ahead early in the second half, Reading appeared for a while to be heading for a vital win, but were pegged back late on by a Blues team which created several good chances to take the points.
Freda Ayisi headed over from a Jess Carter cross early on for Birmingham whilst Melissa Fletcher shot straight at Ann-Katrin Berger when played in by an excellent Sophie Perry pass on 11 minutes. Perry had a 30-yard free kick held by Berger, then Becky Jane sent a dangerous low cross which just eluded Fletcher at the far post on 31 minutes.
Birmingham's best attack of the half came a minute later. Neat interplay between Isabelle Linden, Ayisi and Andrine Hegerberg set up Charlie Wellings for a crisp low shot which was well saved by Reading keeper Mary Earps. Linden then headed wide from another excellent Carter cross from the right as the visitors ended the half well, but the blank scoreline reflected play accurately.
Reading were ahead within two minutes of the restart. Fletcher was fouled on the left edge of the area and a short free kick released Emma Follis for a driven cross which was met perfectly by Fletcher for a close range headed finish.
Birmingham responded with increasingly dangerous intent. Kylie Davies made a crucial last ditch block to deny Linden, then Earps sprang to her right to turn away Hegerberg's curling shot after a short corner on 56 minutes.
Rachel Rowe had Reading's best effort of the half with a 25-yard effort just wide before Kerys Harrop set up the equaliser with a delightful cross from the left which Linden met with a firm downward header wide of Earps on 77 minutes.
Birmingham pressed on for the winner, Wellings being denied by a fine Earps save low to her left from another headed effort on 87 minutes. Blues had a good chance to win the match in the final seconds after good work by lively substitute Chloe Peplow but Linden sent a header over the bar from close range.
Both teams thus recorded their fifth draw of the season, so the outcome was probably predictable. Other results meant that Reading gained ground on teams around them so, despite losing the lead late on, the draw may prove to be important for the home team.
Reading FC Women: Mary Earps, Rebecca Jane, Kayleigh Hines, Kirsty McGee, Emma Follis (sub Remi Allen 74mins), Lauren Bruton, Jade Boho-Sayo (sub Nia Jones 80mins), Kylie Davies, Sophie Perry, Melissa Fletcher (sub Helen Ward 68mins), Rachel Rowe. Subs not used: Chloe Sansom, Molly Bartrip, Lois Roche, Laura May Walkley.
Birmingham City: Ann-Katrin Berger, Alex Windell, Jessica Carter, Kerys Harrop, Freda Ayisi (sub Connie Scofield 57mins), Isabelle Linden, Andrine Hegerberg, Abbey Leigh Stringer (sub Chloe Peplow 68mins), Mel Lawley, Charlie Wellings, Aoife Mannion. Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Cheryl Edwards, Corina Schroder, Coral-Jade Haines, Sian Johnson.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Jade Boho-Sayo shields the ball from Abbey Leigh Stringer
(middle) Mary Earps tries to gather under pressure from Kerys Harrop and Abbey Leigh Stringer
(bottom) Lauren Bruton shrugs off the attentions of Andrine Hegerberg
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