Bristol City have moved off the bottom of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table after beating Reading 3-2 in a thrilling game at Ashton Gate.
The Robins recorded their second win of the season as goals from Charlie Wellings, Jemma Purfield and Ebony Salmon fired them to three points against Reading.
Fara Williams and Emma Harries returned to the starting line-up for the visitors with the latter making her presence known early on as forward Lauren Bruton found the youngster inside the box. The 18-year-old’s shot flew over the bar but she continued to cause problems for The Robins’ defence and in the 13th minute got her first senior goal. Purfield attempted to clear Bristol City’s defensive lines but unfortunately, her clearance deflected off teammate Yana Daniels. The ball fell to the feet of Harries and The Royals striker tapped it into an empty net.
Reading continued to dominate the early stages. Forward Danielle Carter was searching for her 50th Barclays FA Women’s Super League goal involvement and she had a shot saved by Sophie Baggaley who was at full stretch.
After 20 minutes, Matt Beard’s side began to find their feet. Their first shot came from Wellings whose half volley from outside the box fell wide of Grace Moloney’s post. The forward was soon on the scoresheet though when three minutes later, newly-crowned England international Salmon found her teammate with a delightful pass. Wellings put the ball through the legs of Royals keeper Moloney into the net.
In the 36th minute, Bristol City were saved by the offside flag after some calamity defending saw Reading’s Carter bundle the ball into the back of the net. That was the last big moment of the first half as they two sides went into the break level.
Early in the second half, Daniels curled the ball low towards the back post only to see Moloney deal with the danger. That proved to be a warning sign for Reading with Bristol City taking the lead moments later, Purfield curling home an effort from the edge of the box.
From this point, the game really exploded into life. Reading equalised with 17 minutes left on the clock through a thundering strike from Rachel Rowe, after being wonderfully found by the returning Williams. Bristol City then quickly responded as substitute Abi Harrison provided a stunning cross-field pass towards Salmon who took the ball in her stride and volleyed home to make it 3-2 before Reading’s Rowe was dismissed in second half injury time for a second booking. The Robins were able to see out the game and claim the three points needed to move them out of the relegation zone.
Bristol City now turn their attentions to Sunday’s FA Women’s Continental League Cup final against Chelsea while Reading will be looking to get back to winning ways against Tottenham Hotspur at The Madejski Stadium.