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Reading FC Women 0 Doncaster Rovers Belles 1 (Omarsdottir 70)
Doncaster Rovers Belles said farewell to WSL 1 with a fine performance to claim their first points of the season with a deserved 1-0 away win over Reading FC Women.
A 70th minute goal by Katrin Omarsdottir was the decider but it took a string of outstanding saves from ex-Belle Mary Earps in the Reading goal to prevent the visitors from notching a more comfortable win.
Reading had looked lively in the first half. Emma Follis went close after seven minutes then Harriet Scott grazed the upright on 13 minutes after good work down the left. Belles were having an equal share of the play and caused a couple of nervy moments from crosses and then a Christie Murray shot just over but it was the hosts who had a Follis effort chalked off for offside on 34 minutes.
Emily Simpkins gave a taste of things to come with a super 25-yard effort tipped away at full stretch by Earps right on the break. Reading again started brightly, Melissa Fletcher heading wide when well placed on 50 minutes then firing in a shot well saved by Anna Moorhouse.
Doncaster took over with a strong spell just around the hour mark. Carla Humphrey almost set up Omarsdottir then Murray shot inches wide after another break. Kasia Lipka, who had a fine match, drove into the area, only to see her chipped shot from close range somehow turned away by Earps on 65 minutes. Omardottir was denied by another fine save a minute later as Belles dominated.
The breakthrough came when Omarsdottir controlled a pass from Rhiannon Roberts and drove into the area. This time, Earps was powerless to stop the Icelandic international from firing home from six yards out on 70 minutes.
The Reading keeper saved her best till last to keep the deficit at one just a couple of minutes after the opener. Belles cut open the right side of the home defence again and Omarsdottir met an inviting cross with a powerful header six yards out. Earps reacted brilliantly to turn the ball on to the bar and away for a corner.
Reading pressed forward looking to save the match. The Belles defence got in crucial blocks on a couple of occasions and the ball never quite fell for the attackers from dangerous crosses. Moorhouse handled well from long range efforts and Belles showed good determination and teamwork to see out the match and reward their loyal support.
Reading ended their first WSL 1 season disappointingly but their main objective for the season had already been secured by the sort of gritty display which their opponents provided on the final day.
Reading FC Women: Mary Earps, Rebecca Jane, Kirsty McGee, Kayleigh Hines, Harriet Scott, Rachel Rowe, Remi Allen, Amber Stobbs (sub Charlie Estcourt 76mins), Lauren Bruton, Emma Follis (sub Helen Ward 69mins), Melissa Fletcher. Subs not used: Grace Moloney, Lois Roche.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Anna Moorhouse, Sophie Barker, Rhiannon Roberts, Leandra Little, Mayumi Pacheco, Sam Tierney, Kasia Lipka, Emily Simpkins (sub Marta Bakowska-Mathews 85mins), Katrin Omarsdottir, Carla Humphrey, Christie Murray (sub Courtney Sweetman-Kirk 89mins). Subs not used: Nicola Hobbs, Rachel Newborough, Rebecca Rayner.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Lauren Bruton under pressure from Sam Tierney
(middle) Mayumi Pacheco is challenged by Amber Stobbs
(bottom) Rhiannon Roberts slides in to tackle Lauren Bruton
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