A late Ebony Salmon goal condemned Reading to a disappointing 3-2 defeat on Monday night against relegation-threatened Bristol City. The Royals took the lead before having to rescue what looked a certain point late on, when Rachel Rowe volleyed her effort into the top of the net to make it 2-2.
But a lack of concentration in the Reading defence was pounced on by the Vixens’ top scorer Ebony Salmon who made the Royals pay with her well taken goal in the 79th minute. That goal from Salmon really has helped in City’s quest to survive in the FAWSL.
You can read the full match report by clicking on the link below.
In a game which was described on BT Sport and radio as the game of the season so far in the WSL, here are the key talking points from the encounter at Ashton Gate.
Lack of consistency costing Reading yet again
This has certainly been a key theme throughout the season for the Royals. There is no doubt that this team can turn up and give the top teams a real run for their money. You only have to look at the amazing performance Chambers’ team put in a few weeks ago in their 2-0 victory against a high-flying Manchester United side.
Unfortunately, it is the results against the teams lower down in the league which have really cost the Royals any chance of achieving European football this season. Monday night’s defeat means that Reading have now dropped five points against a side that was bottom of the league at the time of the match being played.
That is simply not good enough, and manager Kelly Chambers wasn’t afraid to say this after the game.
“The performance simply wasn’t there. It’s the performance that I’m not happy with. We knew what Bristol’s threats were going into the game and for some reason, we just didn’t do what we were supposed to, and it cost us the game.”
Not converting enough chances
This was also the key theme in the reverse fixture at the Madejski Stadium earlier this season which ended in a 1-1 draw. On that occasion, a mixture of a fantastic performance from Bristol City’s goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley, coupled with a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal, cost the Royals two points.
Monday night’s encounter followed a very similar pattern to the reverse fixture. The likes of Danielle Carter and substitute Amalie Eikeland missed vital chances which in the end cost the side a point at the very least.
A telling statistic from the game to sum up Reading’s fortunes in front of goal was that Chambers’ side had 22 shots in total compared to Bristol’s 12. Seven of those attempts were on target for the Royals, compared to four for Bristol.
Yet it was the team from BS3 who scored three goals, while the side from RG2 only managed two. The conversion rate is an area that needs improving for Reading as they move on now to their next fixture at home to Tottenham Hotspur this Sunday in the FAWSL.
Harries and Rowe: the two stand-out performers from Monday
One major positive that can be taken from the defeat at Ashton Gate was the performances of Rachel Rowe and Emma Harries. The latter scored her first goal for the first team in this game at the age of 18, and certainly has a big future in front of her. After the match, Chambers recognised how big of a moment it was for Harries to score in Monday’s defeat.
“Credit to Emma. We’ve had her since the age of eight and to see her come into the first-team set-up, perform, get those chances and ultimately score her first senior goal is fantastic.”
Harries was my player of the match for Reading in this contest, due to the constant threat she posed to City’s back line - especially in the first half. If it weren’t for a heroic block by one of Bristol’s defenders, Harries would have had two first-half goals.
The English striker was less impactful in the second half, but her teammate Rachel Rowe stepped up big time to wrestle back control for Reading. Rowe’s ability to pick up the ball and drive at the Bristol backline caused problems for Matt Beard’s side all evening.
But it was her movement off the ball which resulted in the 28 year-old being picked out in the 73rd minute via a lovely pass over the top of City’s defence by Fara Williams, which Rowe converted clinically on this occasion to make it a grandstand finish.