“Big point, six points on the table now and we’re just hoping to keep going and keep climbing. Another good team performance, threw everything at it again against a decent Notts County side- Obviously they’re strong, they’re physical, they posed a tough test for us, so happy with a big point.”– Mary Earps (Reading FC)
“As long as we keep ticking over we know that the goal will come. Teams around us are dropping points and we’ve shown we can compete in this league.”– Emma Follis (Reading FC)
“It was such an even game throughout so I guess we can’t complain. It was fair. We came for the win but it just didn’t happen.”– Aivi Luik (Notts County)
Reading FC Women secured their sixth draw of the FA WSL 1 campaign on Sunday afternoon as their game against Notts County Ladies ended 1-1. The Lady Pies took the lead in the first half with Danielle Buet converting a typically complex free-kick routine. The Royals went on to level the score just after the hour mark through club top-scorer Emma Follis.
Reading named an unchanged team following their 1-1 draw against Birmingham City Ladies last weekend, while Notts County made four changes after the biggest defeat of their history against Manchester City Women last Monday. Amy Turner, Leanne Crichton, Fern Whelan and Rachel Williams were all replaced with Sophie Walton, Maja Krantz, Angharad James and Aivi Luik coming into the starting lineup.
The game started evenly, with both sides initially struggling to keep possession. In the early minutes, opportunities fell to both sides with Emma Follis having a penalty shout waved away and Ellen White forcing Reading keeper Mary Earps into the first save of the game. The best opportunity of the early stages fell to Follis, who cut in from the left wing before forcing a good save from Megan Walsh in the Notts County goal.
That was just the beginning of a decent spell for the home side, with Jade Boho-Sayo having several attempts on goal. As the half went on, both teams were trying to carve opportunities for themselves but could not make the breakthrough. There were copious shouts for handball from both sides but none were given by referee Paul Johnson to the dismay of their respective supporters.
Somewhat against the run of play, it was Notts County who were to take the lead. The Lady Pies are becoming increasingly well known for their intricate free-kick routines and it was another one to remember. On this occasion it was finished off expertly by Danielle Buet who sumptuously curled it right footed into the bottom left corner.
Apart from a couple of corners and an effort from Jo Potter being fired high over the Reading goal, both sides saw out the first half. The Reading team went in at half-time somewhat undeservedly 1-0 down.
Notts County started the better of the two teams as the second half got underway. Jess Clarke had her shot blocked while White saw her headed attempt easily saved. Reading were trying, but often struggling, to get Follis into the game but were still pushing to find the equaliser.
Just before the hour mark, Reading had their best opportunity of the game. Buet brought down Melissa Fletcher just outside the box to give Reading a free-kick in a decent position out on the right wing. Boho-Sayo managed to get on the end of an inch perfect Sophie Perry cross but she could not steer her shot goalwards. One of the problems facing the home side in the second half were the number of crosses not being delivered into the box. Reading were creating the opportunities but their play in the final third was sometimes letting them down.
Soon after, the Royals were finally able to make the breakthrough. Follis received the ball on the left wing before cutting inside and curling a right footed shot from outside the box into the top corner. It was a great piece of individual play from Reading’s top goalscorer and saw the Royals justifiably level the score.
As the second half went on, the game became incredibly even as both sides pushed for the winner. Kayleigh Hines’ shot narrowly flew past the post for Reading but the best chance for the winner fell once again to Boho-Sayo. After some great play in and around the box, Lauren Bruton picked out the striker who could only fire over from close range.
Notts County then had their turn to win the game and probably would have if not for the heroics of Becky Jane. The defender came to Reading’s rescue on two occasions as she prevented both Clarke and Aileen Whelan snatching all three points late on with efforts from point blank range.
With both sides unable to snatch the lead in the dying minutes, the game finished at 1-1. The result meant that Reading secured their sixth draw of the campaign and are still looking for their elusive first win. Notts County, meanwhile, will be happier with this week’s result but still have not been able to win a game away from home.
As a whole, the Reading players will be pleased with their performance. The side approach each of their games with an ever increasing level of confidence and continue to look like a tough team to beat. While they are still yet to win a game, you sense that they are edging ever closer. They are defensively strong and impressive tactically. Now they just need more to go their way in the final third and start knocking the goals in.
Due to the spectacular goal that she scored, Follis is definitely up there when it comes to Reading’s best player in the game. There were many occasions where Notts County managed to keep her at bay but she is becoming an increasingly important member of the Reading squad. Hines and Bruton were also tireless in midfield and were assets both defensively and going forward. That being said, it was a great team effort from back to front and the side continue to show that they deserve to be in this division.
One player that I briefly want to mention is Boho-Sayo. To me she is an asset in the team as her strength makes her very difficult to play against. The striker is also clearly great at getting into space in the box and making herself available in the area. The issue is that on too many occasions today her shots from close range failed to even find the target. If she can get that aspect of her game sorted out, she could push Reading up the table almost single-handedly. As it stands, her finishing let her down on this occasion.
The third home game in quick succession for Reading is on Wednesday when they face league leaders Manchester City Women. The side are currently unbeaten in the FA WSL 1 and subsequently will be tough opponents for the Royals. Reading, however, will no doubt push for the victory once more and hope that they can pull off a surprise win.