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Bristol City Women 1-1 Reading Women (4-5 Pens): Match Report

The Royals secured a normal-time draw and spot-kick win over the Robins on Wednesday evening.

Cheltenham Town Ladies v Reading Women - Adobe Women’s FA Cup Third Round Photo by Ryan Hiscott - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Reading Women picked up their first points in the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup last night. A late goal from substitute Charlie Wellings secured a 1-1 draw and there was the addition of a bonus point after winning a dramatic penalty shoot-out 4-5, with Eve Annets at full stretch to save a sudden-death spot-kick.

With three matches in ‘a week’, and with an important Championship fixture on Sunday, Liam Gilbert took the opportunity to make nine changes against WSL opponents Bristol City at the Robins High Performance Centre.

Drawn in a league with WSL teams Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, newly promoted Bristol City and high-flying Championship Southampton, it was always going to be difficult for the Royals to progress through to the quarter-final stage. The Royals started the match bottom of the league and with zero points after defeats against against Spurs and Saints.

Team: Annets, Hendrix (Captain) (Houssein, 58), Jarvis, Longhurst (Wellings, 75), Mayi Kith, Elwood, Smith, Troelsgaard, Estcourt (Primmer, 64), Gregory (Woodham, 75), Wilson (Wade, 64)

Subs unused: Orman, Perry, Kennedy

Yellow cards: Mayi Kith, 64

It was Reading who enjoyed the first corner of the match, after five minutes, with Sanne Troelsgaard playing a quick short corner to Lulu Jarvis, finding Easther Mayi Kith, who fired her volleyed shot wide of the goal. Charlie Estcourt also found space but both of her attempted shots were closed down quickly and blocked by the City defence.

On 20 minutes, Reading left-back Freya Gregory tried to catch out the Bristol City goalkeeper with a cheeky long-range effort at near post but the Robins’ showstopper was alert and equal to this.

Although Reading enjoyed these early salvos in the opening stages of the half it was the home team who were starting to put some consistent pressure on the Reading defence, often getting behind the full-backs but without the decisive cross or final ball.

This pressure paid off for the WSL team and, on 21 minutes, they managed to turn midfield into attack quickly. Maya Kendall charged down the left-hand side and, with Caitlin Smith unable to catch her, she squared the ball to centre-forward Shania Hayles who made no mistake with the finish from around the penalty-spot position. 1-0.

With their tails up, Bristol City came close shortly after, but for the outstretched leg of Brooke Hendrix stopping a good effort from Tianna Teisar.

Towards the end of the first half Reading earned a free-kick after Mayi Kith was fouled. Gregory’s set-piece was met by Troelsgaard but her two attempted shots were, again, blocked by a resolute and stubborn City defence.

Although the Royals enjoyed some good spells of possession, it was mainly in their own half and they were often unable to turn this into attack. In contrast, the home team looked in control, were patient and waited to counter-attack when the opportunity arose. Although largely untroubled, it was Annets in the Reading goal who was by far the busier, with the Royals unable to glance a blow on the opposition goal.

Half-time score: 1-0

Bristol City manager Lauren Smith made two changes at half-time with one of these, Carrie Jones, forcing Annets into an excellent early save, diving to her left.

Just before the hour mark, Gilbert made the first of five substitutions (both teams used all five during the second half), replacing captain Hendrix with Halle Houssein - meaning the versatile Troelsgaard went to centre-back and Mayi Kith took over the armband.

City substitute Smith was causing all sorts of trouble for the Reading defence and goalkeeper, and she came very close on 72 minutes when her shot rattled the angle of the crossbar and post.

With the clock running down, it was with credit to the Reading spirit, belief and effort (and introduced substitutes) that they didn’t give up and kept on pushing. Pressure from two of those changes paid off when a Lauren Wade cross found Charlie Wellings in the box and her shot squirmed under the Bristol City goalkeeper, Benedicte Haaland, and crept over the line for the equaliser, setting up the dramatic penalty finish. 1-1.

Full time score: 1-1

Penalties

It was Reading who got the opportunity to take the first spot-kick and Troelsgaard coolly finished into the top-left corner of the goal. The penalties went to sudden death after Lily Woodham missed her (and Reading’s fifth) penalty, cancelling out the early miss by City’s Rodgers - but Houssein executed her spot-kick (the sixth round of the night), with Annets taking the glory with a full-stretch winning save, diving to her left, to deny City player Napier and seal a 4-5 penalty victory.

Reading penalties

  • Troelsgaard scored
  • Wade scored
  • Wellings scored
  • Primmer scored
  • Woodham, missed (wide)
  • Houssien scored

Bristol City penalties

  • Rodgers missed (hit post)
  • Jones scored
  • Wolley scored
  • Hayles scored
  • Harrison scored
  • Napier missed (saved by Annets!)

That’s two victories on the bounce, meaning the Royals can take some confidence into Sunday’s league match against Crystal Palace (kick-off 1pm). See you there!