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Reading Women 0-0 Charlton Athletic Women: Match Report

Pete’s take on a goalless draw in the Royals’ first home game of the season.

Reading v Charlton Athletic - Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by Paul Harding - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Reading’s first home match of the season ended with the points shared in a goalless 0-0 draw. The Royals were probably the happier team - digging in and doggedly resisting the Charlton Athletic attack - after lone centre-forward Sanne Troelsgaard was sent off in the 50th minute.

Although it’s another point on the board and the undefeated record continues, the match never really got going for either team. Charlton failed to make the extra player advantage count. It was one of those matches where, as I left the stadium, Reading fans (who know I write the match report) were commenting to say “good luck with writing that one up!”

Maybe we can blame it on the Saturday 5.15pm kick-off. I’m assuming there is an evening kick-off fixture every week in the Barclays Women’s Championship?

The Royals lined up with an unchanged team from last week’s 1-1 draw away to Crystal Palace. Friday’s new signing, 21-year-old Josie Longhurst (Cardiff City, Brighton and Hove Albion, Lewes FC, Wales under-17 and under-19), started on the bench and made her debut in the 82nd minute (replacing Deanna Cooper). Georgia Wilson also made her debut, in the 89th minute, for Rachel Dugdale.

Team: Orman (GK), Dugdale (Wilson,89), Cooper (Longhurst, 83), Primmer, Wade, Hendrix, Mayi Kith, Estcourt, Woodham (Captain), Roberts, Troelsgaard (sent off, 50)

Unused subs: Kite (GK), Meadows Tuson, Elwood, Kennedy, Cox, Rasmussen

Reading only registered two shots - both on target - pretty much as far apart as possible in the match. Deanna Cooper’s third-minute, looping, long-range effort was comfortably watched and saved by Sian Rogers in the Addicks’ goal - it raised expectations for what was to be an over-promise and under-deliver performance from there.

Royals fans had to wait until four minutes into time added on (at the end of the second half) to register their second shot on target. It was better, with substitute Georgia Wilson passing the ball to Lauren Wade, who unleashed a left-foot effort from the edge of the penalty area to force a diving save from the Charlton goalkeeper for a late corner.

Charlton Athletic lined up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation and enjoyed the better of the first half. The Addicks had good possession, especially down the flanks, with Royals left-back Rachel Dugdale having a tough time against Karin Muya. Muya got round the back of the Reading defence on several occasions but luckily couldn’t pick out the fatal pass.

The visitors’ high-pressing game meant the Reading defence didn’t enjoy any time on the ball and were forced into sloppy errors or rushed passes. Luckily, for Royals fans, Charlton were unable to capitalise on this and the teams went into half-time without match drama - but, similar to last week, another two bookings for Reading. Lily Woodham and Tia Primmer picked up yellow cards.

Royals fans (and probably the Reading management team) won’t be looking forward to the referee returning for any future matches - after some odd decision-making - and this was only endorsed further when she showed a straight red card to Sanne Troelsgaard in the 50th minute for violent conduct, for what I can only assume to be deemed as an elbow?

Liam Gilbert reshuffled the remaining line-up formation to 4-4-1 with Tia Primmer taking the solo striking role.

Charlton Athletic brought on substitute Carla Humphrey for the last 30 minutes of the match, and she produced a lively, energetic and technical set-piece performance which caused nothing but trouble for the Royals.

Within minutes, Humphrey shot from outside the box - with Royals ‘keeper Emily Orman equal to this. Next a close-range headed chance passed wide of the Reading upright. Humphrey then turned provider, with her cross just too high for Charlton’s striker, Kayleigh Green, to head home what looked like a certain goal, and, with two minutes of normal time remaining, her turn and shot hit the post - luckily the outside of the post, going out for a goal kick.

The plus side from this result was resilience, effort and defiance to hang on for what may be a valuable point over the season.

It’s still early days with a new management team and seven new signings to date needing to bed in and get to know each other, and a transfer window that doesn’t close until September 15.

It’s also a very young squad (squad numbers now announced) with 11 players making their way through the youth-team pathway. That includes: Tia Primmer, Madison Perry, Charlie Estcourt, Freya Meadows Tuson, Amelia Elwood, Bethan Roberts, Stevie Kennedy, Bella Cox, Imogen Poile, Tash Rasmussen and Eve Annets (GK).

Next Sunday, September 10 at 2pm, will deliver another big test for the Royals, away to London City Lionesses, who look to have made some very shrewd and talented signings during the summer. See you there!