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Report: Bristol City Women 1-3 Reading Women

Bristol City Women opened their Spring Series campaign with a 3-1 defeat to Reading Women at Ashton Gate.

The opening exchanges got off to a fast start with both sides vying for possession.

There were chances at either end, but the most notable chance of the opening exchanges fell to Claire Emslie, who was put through on goal but couldn’t manage to slot the ball past the sprawling Mary Earps in the Reading goal.

On the ten minute mark City Women broke again down the left side, with Claire Emslie using her pace to get the better of Harriet Scott. Emslie’s shot was struck beautifully, only for the bar to stand in the way of the opening goal of the game.

After a period of extended pressure, City Women forced a corner, Olivia Fergusson’s header was brilliantly saved by Mary Earps.

Against the run of play Reading used their effective counter attack a number of times with Rebecca Jane storming down the right hand side of the pitch, only to be thwarted by the efforts of Jasmine Matthews and Megan Alexander in defence.

Jodie Brett took advantage of that space in midfield with a 25 yard effort, only for it to sail just over the bar. In such a tight encounter, it was going to take something special to break the deadlock.

Reading countered once again on the 25 minute mark, Melissa Fletcher, much like Brett before her attempted a 25 yard effort and once again it sailed over the bar. With the momentum now with The Royals, the ball fell to Melissa Fletcher once again on the six yard box, but her half volley sailed well over the bar. The Royals’ link up play and their ability to spread the ball quickly was opening up the City Women defence and once again Fletcher put a chance wide on the half an hour mark.

Hayley Ladd was spreading the play well from defence all day, this time she gave it Chloe Arthur, who put Emslie through on the left. Emslie laid it back to Arthur whose deflected shot was saved to keep it 0-0 at 35 minutes.

Approaching half time, City Women broke down the left through Emslie but her shot was fired wide. The game remained fast paced and if one team was attacking, the other one was countering. Due to how both teams were set up, the space in midfield allowed for a free flowing game, both goalkeepers had to really be on their game on the day.

From the kick-off in the second half, Reading worked the possession nicely and slowly built pressure until they won a corner. A high, looping cross found the head of Rachel Furness who headed the ball into the far corner to give Reading the lead on 48 minutes.

Using the advantage after a foul on Emslie, City worked the ball to Lauren Hemp who attacked down the left. After getting the better of Rebecca Jane she slotted the ball through to Jodie Brett whose shot sailed wide from six yards.

City Women maintained that pressure, with Flo Allen and Claire Emslie to go close next. The wide players were finding the gaps, the clinical finishing just wasn’t there for the Vixens.

As they had done all game, Reading collected the scraps from a City Women attack on 58 minutes and stormed up field, the ball was given to Rachel Rowe who calmy slotted home with her right foot to give The Royals a 2-0 lead.

From the kick-off, a long ball was played into the City Defence. A mix up in communication gifted Melissa Fletcher the ball, she fired home into an empty net. The Royals went three up on 62 minutes.

Finally, on 74 minutes, Lauren Hemp got her reward with a goal. The ball was worked nicely through the phases, Hemp received the ball in the box and fired home. The resulting minutes saw City Women find the ascendancy, with chances falling to Hemp and Jodie Brett respectively.

The closing stages saw the sides still maintaining the fast pace that the game had started in, but neither side could convert.

On the 3-1 loss, City Women’s Manager Willie Kirk said “I thought the performance was very positive and doesn’t reflect the score line. Today was a big learning curve and we can use that heading into our next game.”