A general view of the Madejski Stadium, home of Reading Women FC Reading Women v Aston Villa Women, WSL football match, The Madejski Stadium, Reading, UK - 13 Sep 2020 Photo: Robin Parker for The FA

Reading move up to sixth after battling beyond Brighton & Hove Albion in thriller

Reading recorded their first home victory in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League since their opening home game of the season as they defeated Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2 at The Madejski Stadium this afternoon.

The Royals climbed above The Seagulls into sixth position in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table as a result, continuing their good record against Hope Powell’s side in the process.

Reading squandered a two-goal lead as a result of two quick-fire Brighton & Hove Albion goals at the end of the first half but Natasha Harding netted the winner in the second half to give retiring Royal Fara Williams the perfect Madejski send off.

The game began after a guard of honour for the retiring Williams. The first chance came in the 16th minute with Reading midfielder Angharad James firing over the bar from just outside of the box.

From here, the game became highly competitive yet neither team was able to turn their possession into clear cut chances. Just after the half-hour, Albion’s Inessa Kaagman found Aileen Whelan at the back post but she was unable to convert. This turned out to be costly for Brighton & Hove Albion as Reading were awarded a penalty soon after. The referee deemed that Albion defender Emma Koivisto’s challenge on Emma Harries was an illegal challenge. This provided Williams with the perfect gift for her final home game, converting the penalty with a Panenka kick.

Reading looked on track to record their first home victory since the opening day as forward Danielle Carter converted Harding’s cross to make it 2-0, however, an inspired turnaround from Powell’s side and forward Lee Guem-min in particular, saw the South Korean international score two goals inside a minute.  First, she superbly headed in from a Whelan free-kick to make it 2-1 before intercepting the ball straight from the restart and spotting Reading keeper Grace Moloney off her line to score from 30 yards.

Reading didn’t look to be affected by surrendering a two-goal lead going into the second half. In the first minute, midfielder James chipped the ball over the Albion defence for Harding to chase and while she drove a shot past keeper Megan Walsh, her effort was cleared off the line. Then eight minutes later, James performed a carbon copy pass to set her Welsh international compatriot through on goal with Harding putting the Berkshire side in the lead once more by powering the ball past a helpless Walsh.

Reading continued to attempt to hit Brighton & Hove Albion on the counter attack with midfielder Rachel Rowe soon breaking into The Seagulls’ penalty area but she dragged her shot wide of the left post.

Other than a well-hit effort from Albion midfielder Kaagman which sneaked beyond the right post, Albion failed to trouble the Reading defence again as the hosts recorded their first win at home since their first home game of the season when they defeated Aston Villa.

Reading will hope to consolidate sixth place in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League table on the final day of the season, although they will face an uphill task against title favourites Chelsea while at the other end of the table, Brighton & Hove Albion will face relegation-threatened Bristol City at The People’s Pension Stadium.

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