Arsenal condemn Reading FC Women to third straight FA WSL defeat

Lotte Wubben-Moy heads at the Reading FC Women goal. Photo: Neil Graham.
Lotte Wubben-Moy heads at the Reading FC Women goal. Photo: Neil Graham.

Enter your email address to receive regular Berkshire football updates in your inbox

Reading FC Women fell to a third straight defeat in the Women’s Super League as Arsenal Women held on to triumph 1-0 at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. 

The hosts battled bravely and could have even scraped a draw with the game entering the dying stages but Kelly Chambers’s team couldn’t quite break Arsenal’s resistance, and in losing, set an unwanted record in becoming the first FA Women’s Super League side to not win in 13 games against a league opponent. It is now 13 Women’s Super League games without a win for the Royals – the longest winless run in the league – suggesting the number is not a lucky one for Reading. 

For Arsenal, the three points saw them go up to second in the table, only behind Manchester United on goals scored, with Emma Stina Blackstenius’s 20-yard daisycutter proving the difference. The visitors saw captain, Kim Little’s penalty saved by the outstanding Jacqueline Burns, and had numerous other chances to extend their lead but were left to sweat as the possibility of Reading equalising grew in the final moments. 

Player Ratings: Andrew Belt’s verdict on the Royals as Burns rated ‘unbelievable’

A record crowd at the Select Car Leasing for Reading Women vs Arsenal. Photo: Neil Graham.
A record crowd at the Select Car Leasing for Reading Women vs Arsenal. Photo: Neil Graham.

The game was barely 20 seconds in when the visitors had a clear opening on goal, Blackstenius played clean through from an incisive defence-splitting pass from Steph Catley but Burns, making a league debut for the Royals in Grace Moloney’s place, produced an outstanding save low to her left to keep things level and Reading cleared their lines. 

From this quick start, the game adopted a fast pace with both teams going at each other. Having barely touched the ball, star Lioness, Beth Mead, found space in the 12th minute after being played in by Vivianne Miedema and her fierce strike was deflected narrowly past the post. Arsenal began to dominate from that point on and Reading were grateful for Arsenal’s profligacy in front of goal when Laura Wienroither volleyed wide from a few yards out after Caitlin Foord’s lofted cross. 

The pressure finally told, however, on the half-hour mark when a few precise passes in midfield ended with Blackstenius picking up the ball 20 yards out with her back to goal, turning and driving low into the right-hand corner of Burns’s net. 

Reading picked themselves up from this concession, with wingers, Emma Harries and Lily Woodham finding space often high up the pitch but without playing killer balls into the area. With the first-half in added time, Reading were lucky to escape for the fourth time in the game when Mead’s cross-field ball found Foord free up the pitch but her strike whistled past Burns’s post. 

Emma Harries. Photo: Neil Graham.
Emma Harries. Photo: Neil Graham.

Chaos reigned from minutes 53-57 with Arsenal having four attempts on goal in this period and Reading nearly responding with a suckerpunch. The peppering of Reading’s goal began when Miedema could only tamely strike after Katie McCabe guided the ball back into the box after a corner was steered out to McCabe. McCabe’s close-range cross was then diverted onto the right-hand post by Deanna Cooper’s outstretched leg and, from the resulting corner, Blackstenius hit the same post with her header from a few yards out. Reading were under the cosh and Foord was next to try her luck but she hit the side-netting having found a good position on the left-hand side of the box. 

From being under the cosh, Reading could, and perhaps, should have equalised when a long ball from Cooper presented Harries with a one-on-one with Manuela Zinsberger but the academy product, making her first start of the season, could only strike straight at the Austrian and Arsenal were able to clear. 

Two minutes later, there was widespread bemusement as Arsenal were awarded a penalty when Mead’s cross struck Woodham’s arm. Play continued for a good 20 seconds before the referee made the call. TV replays showed the decision to be correct, if a little harsh, but Burns made a second excellent save of the evening from Little’s strike to the right of the goal. 

Jacqueline Burns was outstanding for Reading FC Women. Photo: Neil Graham.
Jacqueline Burns was outstanding for Reading FC Women. Photo: Neil Graham.

Buoyed by this, Reading showed a bit more attacking enterprise and nearly scored direct from Woodham’s corner, the ball hitting the outside of the upright. With 10 minutes to go, Natasha Dowie, whose contributions had mainly been defending set pieces, was gifted a half-chance in the six-yard box with her back to goal, following Rachel Rowe’s testing cross but, having teed herself up, shot straight at Zinsberger. From the resulting corner, Dowie won a header which was diverted over the bar. 

That was as good as it got for the hosts who toiled in search of an equaliser. Blackstenius curled an effort narrowly wide and there was concern for Reading as Harries, recently returned from a long-injury lay-off, left the field after a heavy challenge from Jordan Nobbs. 

The Royals gave a good account of themselves but would have counted themselves fortunate to have earned a point against the title-chasing Gunners who were wasteful in front of goal but for Miedema’s match-winning strike. 

Lionesses in Berkshire: Find out when England’s Euro 2022 winning players will be in Reading

Football in Berkshire has a Breaking News WhatsApp Channel where we’ll send you updates on all the latest football news from the Royal County. You can join Breaking Berkshire Football News by clicking here

Upcoming fixtures

There are currently no fixtures scheduled.

To make sure you don't miss out on all the latest news, and fixture releases subscribe to Football in Berkshire here.

Subscribe to the newsletter

Enter your email address to receive regular Berkshire football updates in your inbox

Leave a Reply

Search Football in Berkshire
FIB-Badgetransparent-dud.png