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Everton 1-1 Reading

 A third consecutive league draw, but one more palatable than last weekend.

L: Reading's XI vs Tottenham, R: Line-Up vs Everton

Reading made a single enforced change, Kristine Leine coming in for the injured Deanna Cooper. However, Kelly Chambers also played with the formation, switching to a 4-2-2-2. Fishlock and James shielded the defence. Eikeland and Chaplen played between the lines, with Carter partnered by the unlikely Harding. The captain, who had been playing right-back, is known for being versatile and was a success in her 'new' role. Rachel Rowe filled in in the vacated full-back position. 

4-2-4, having two excellent passers deeper in Fishlock and James helps

The front four were incredibly fluid. The deep duo often making runs beyond the strikers into space, almost to form a 4-2-4 at points. The two up top would drop deep if needed, although not nearly as much as in previous matches. The only slight issue was that it's not really a role that suits Carter. She likes time on the ball rather than playing with her back to defenders, and is more adept at looking for pockets of space than making runs in behind.

Reading weren't content to allow the opposition possession in wide areas. Chaplen pressures RB, James then covers in the centre and forces a wayward pass.

On the whole, though, the change in formation actually did a fairly decent job addressing the side's main weaknesses. Crucially, the centre backs were more willing to track players into channels, the screen in front of the defence gave solidity in the centre, and the advanced midfielders pressed wide to keep the opposition full-backs in check as well as offering width without the need for the full-backs to bomb on. In turn, meaning Emma Mitchell wasn't as adventurous as usual, instead opting to keep the shape, and Reading benefitted because of it.

Fishlock lets Sorensen run behind her, and Mitchell is too wide to recover. Moloney should still do better with the initial save.

Not that it was enough to keep the home side out completely; a collection of errors led them to open the scoring. Mitchell - who had a pretty poor game all round - failed to clear the ball, Fishlock didn't track Nicoline Sorensen, and Moloney's save didn't find safety. Leaving Simone Magill an easy header inside the six-yard box. It's not the first time that Fishlock has failed to track a run but it was costly on this occasion. Bartrip shadowing Everton's striker dropping deep, and opening just enough space in behind for the attacker to run into.

In truth, Reading could have easily finished without a point. They should have been 1-0 inside a minute as a low cross somehow made its way to Sorensen at the back post. The Royals only saved by Sorensen's inability to get over the ball, as she shot over the bar from eight yards. And less than a minute from the end, Moloney had to pull off an outstanding save, from the head of centre-back Megan Finnigan.

But instead, Harding's unbelievable chip, deliberate in my mind, kept up Reading's 1-1 streak. Fishlock showed why she must be one of the first names on the team sheet - despite her mistake at the other end - by volleying a pass right into the path of the captain. The woman with the armband only needed one look to pick her spot, before placing it just inside the post on the far side.

Chaplen HAS to pass to Carter, but doesn't take the opportunity. Instead, she shoots wide from 25 yards.

There's still room for improvement. Like previous weeks the team get into good positions but are too slow to release the killer pass, and instead often end with a wild shot from distance. In fact, Reading's average shot distance is almost 20 yards out, only Bristol City shoot from further. Yet they have the fourth-most progressive passes, and fourth-most passes into the final third. Bristol City have only managed 13 passes into the penalty area, as opposed to The Royal's 51. Everton and Manchester United have 53 and they've both scored twice the number of goals. In some ways, it comes back to the lack of a goalscorer, but patience is a virtue and Reading's counter-attack doesn't allow for it.

At the moment, Reading seem content to drag the opposition to their level. That's not going to cut it for a side that ought to be aiming to challenge the established teams - seventh is the wrong direction of travel. As for whether the formation sticks or if it was just to negate Everton, who knows? But I'd definitely like to see it again.


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