The Continental Cup finds the Royals under the flood lights for the first time this season with a 7.30pm kick off. Reading are in Group D (one of the three Southern Group leagues, with two Northern leagues) with tonight’s first fixture against Bristol City and matches against Crystal Palace and Lewes to follow.
After a rousing and much-needed win on Sunday, could this be fillip that the team can use to get them off to a great Conti Cup start - against three group Championship teams - and progress to the next round?
One change to the starting line up from Sunday saw Lily Woodham in for Deanne Rose. The two ‘Tashs’ Harding and Dowie leading the charge up front.
The first half, unfortunately, was not a patch on Sunday. Neither team looked like scoring early on with he odd long-range effort from both sides. Dowie will be disappointed she didn’t do better when she found herself with space in the the City penalty area and, within seconds, the Reading keeper was immediately called into action at the other end with a great point-blank save from Bristol’s number nine, Melissa Johnson, who must have thought she’d scored.
On 38 minutes the Royals were lucky when Grace Moloney, this time, could only watch as a shot from City’s Abigail Harrison, hit the post.
Both sides suffered injury blows with City’s Woolley leaving the field within 10 minutes and Rachel Rowe on 31 minutes, replaced by Peplow in midfield for the Royals.
0-0 in a fairly even and uninspiring first half.
Reading certainly came out for the second half with more drive and energy, passing and keeping the ball better. Within the first 15 minutes Dowie saw one effort turned round the post by the City Keeper, Whitehouse, and another effort where, similar to the first half, Tash Dowie will be disappointed she didn’t do better, pulling her shot wide of the upright.
Eikeland provided crosses to both Tashs with Harding’s attempt headed over the bar and Dowie’s header comfortably saved by Whitehouse. On 77 mins Dowie found herself free in the box, only this time seeing her left-foot shot parried again by the City keeper.
Reading ended the match with continued pressure and corners from Lily Woodham but really not looking like the goal would come.
In the second minute of time added on, as the match was heading to penalties to decide the winner, almost inevitably, Bristol City scored - with perhaps their first shot on target this half - to take the first points of the group. Abigail Harrison found herself in space on the left wing, cut in on to her right foot and rifled a great strike from outside the box and past Moloney.
A disappointing finish and result to a match that, although not convincing, Kelly Chambers would have surely thought that her team had enough second-half chances and possession to have won the first group match. The Championship team will enjoy their short journey back down the M4. The Royals on the other hand will have to put this result behind them with a long break, until the next league match, to think, learn and regroup.