Match Report: Reading 3-3 Bristol City

We travelled to Reading to watch our struggling Bristol City team play at the impressive Madejski Stadium on this the first-ever Women’s Football Weekend.
 
Before the game, a few of us Bristol City WFC Supporters Club members went for a pre-match meet up and meal near the ground at the aptly named World Turned Upside Down pub which on current form with only two WSL points from our five games certainly would have been the case had our Vixens won today. We were treated to a scrumptious all you can eat carvery and as we made our way to the stadium we were hoping our team wouldn’t get stuffed as we had just been.
 
Inside the ground the atmosphere was buzzing. There were lots of families and a healthy crowd was scattered across the lower West Stand across the side of the pitch, near the dugout. This was the only stand open for today’s game.
 
Reading predictably started the brighter as Sophie Baggaley was called into action, while Jade Moore was causing problems on the Reading right.
 
Bristol tried to get into the game with a long shot from Abi Harrison that went over but it Baggaley was again called into action again from a good move by Brooke Chaplen.
 
The deadlock was broken on 15 minutes when Remi Allen broke through the Bristol defence to slot the ball into the net to put Reading 1-0 up.
 
Frustratingly Chaplen added another two minutes later. It looked like the floodgates were going to open and usual service resumed as Bristol had not tasted anything other than league defeats against Reading, scoring one goal and conceding sixteen in the process.
 
The young exciting forward Ebony Salmon tried to get the Vixens back into the game with a scintillating run down the right, she crossed the ball to Charlie Wellings who’s shot went high.
 
Bristol were playing much more fluidly now and we got our reward on 37 minutes when Carla Humphrey played in Wellings who scored only Bristol’s second goal against Reading to put City back in the game 2-1 down at the break.
 
Bristol were forced into a substitution at half time due to an injury to Harrison and brought on Yana Daniels.
 
Reading restored there two-goal lead on 50 minutes when former-Vixen legend Angharad James put the ball into the net. Our response was swift as a minute later Bristol pulled another back when Salmon passed to Daniels who made it 3-2 to the Royals.
 
The game became end to end as Lionesses record caps holder Farah Williams tried to put Reading further ahead with a long shot but her effort missed its target.
 
Humphrey who was having a brilliant game was controlling City’s midfield as they looked for an equaliser. We finally got our reward with ten minutes to go when Humphrey found the brilliant Salmon who duly scored the passed Grace Moloney in the Reading goal.
The final few minutes became a very nervous affair from a Vixens point of view as Reading looked for that winning goal and it was all hands to the pump for Bristol as Captain fantastic and Welsh legend Loren Dykes marshalled her defence, including her brilliant national teammate Gemma Evans who had a towering game, keeping Reading at bay.
 
We were given a final scare from a Reading corner but managed to cleared and referee Kirsty Dowle blew her whistle to give Bristol City a much-needed point.
 
The game was a superb advert for women’s football and fitting it occurred on the inaugural women’s football weekend. It was also pleasing to see a large number of families attending probably watching the women’s games for the first time who hopefully enjoyed what they saw and will come back. 
 
After recent results I wasn’t expecting an enjoyable afternoon in Reading, but it certainly was. Bristol were a much more composed and fluid performance by us. To come back from two goals down twice showed immense character from our team and it was also hugely satisfying in seeing us score three goals in a game and away from home. There is still work to do but if we continue to improve then that first WSL win of the season is only around the corner, hopefully next Sunday at home to our great friends Manchester City.
 

Reading: Moloney, Leine, Pacheco, Williams, James (Farrow 83), Allen, Eikeland (Utland 90), Moore, Chaplen, Rowe, Howard
Subs not used: Bennink, Laws, Skeels, Reynolds, Cruickshank

Bristol City: Baggaley, Dykes, Evans, Brown, Humphrey, Salmon (Reilly), Wellings, Allen, Sargeant, Wilson (Chance), Harrison (Daniels)
Subs not used: Matthews, Cumings, Stripple, Robinson

Richard Paish
harvpaish@yahoo.com