Skip to main content

Birmingham City 1-1 Reading

 Reading's season is effectively done, but there are some interesting stories still to delve into; mainly around the churn in the squad. Rachel Rowe and Brooke Chaplen have recently signed contract extensions, but there doesn't seem to be anyone to take the deeper role at present. 

With Fishlock having left, Williams seems to be tasked more with dropping deeper and progressing the ball. She completed 1,500 yards of passes - which is almost twice as much as any previous match. Likewise, the 600 progressive yards bettered her previous best of 350. It did admittedly help that Reading dominated possession, but Reading had a similar level against Bristol City earlier in the season, and Williams didn't hit those same numbers.

On the whole, they used the same 4-1-4-1 system as during the FA Cup. James was the deepest midfielder again, but with the aforementioned Williams also looking to pick up the ball deeper. James' positioning allowed the full backs to push forward, particularly Woodham on the left who at one point made a run beyond Birmingham's defence with Cooper in possession at the back. The defensive midfielder dropped between the centre backs, splitting them and pushing them wider - giving cover across the pitch without the FBs having to play defensively.

It was largely down the left-hand side that The Royals attacked. Woodham and Carter combined for 108 open play touches, compared to 64 for Eikeland and Roberts down the other side. Carter often played in the half-space on the left, with Woodham overlapping on the outside. The attacking midfielder, despite only successfully controlling roughly 65% of passes into her (largely because of the balls into her, it must be said), received more progressive passes than anyone on the field (11).

Harding with no left foot struggles, and this highlights something talked about after Spurs about Harries' running needing work

One of the stranger decisions was the substitution of Woodham. It was 70 minutes in, at the same time that Chambers brought off Roberts from the right. Perhaps it was to manage the minutes of the youngsters but ended up with Harding playing at left-back. The Wales international seems to be Chambers' Swiss Army Knife, but without much of a left foot, she struggled to be incisive from that side. 

Whoever was up front the main issue the side had was creating chances. Despite totalling 18 shots they only managed to accumulate 1.0 xG, with only four ending on target. Frankly, Reading are still too quick to shoot from terrible positions. Most of their shots still come from outside the area, with a third coming from twenty-four yards or greater.

On another day Litteljohn has a foul given against her for backing into Moloney

Both goals in the game are actually fairly similar; Corners that were scored at the second opportunity. Birmingham took the lead early on. Sarah Mayling's inswinging corner almost caught Moloney out, with Ruesha Littlejohn causing a nuisance. The goalkeeper got fingertips to it but Cooper was still needed to clear off the line but that fell perfectly to Ruby Mace to smash home. The shot was almost straight at Moloney but she couldn't get a good enough palm to the ball to keep it out.

In the second half, it was Fara Williams' corner that unlocked things for The Royals. Her deep delivery was met by Cooper at the back post. The keeper's save came out to Rowe, sprinting to get to the ball first, and she seemed to leather it hoping it would find a way through - and it did. Reading have relied on set pieces a few times to get them into games, and here they needed one to save a point.

This was Reading's seventh 1-1 draw in 20 WSL matches, and next season they're going to have to find ways to win matches like this to start heading back toward that top four after a disappointing season. After twenty matches they have the same number of points as last season, which was cancelled after 14.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bowen's Brand New Box

The first game of pre-season is done, and wasn't it an interesting one? Mark Bowen previewed a brand new 3-6-1, with more central midfielders than anybody could have dreamt of.  As theorized  we played a back-three and wing-backs. The midfield, however, had that unexpected additional body, meaning that Joao played as a lone striker. The 3-6-1. Swift and Laurent are allowed to go forward but are usually content with being behind the play. Consistency is a much sought after commodity in football, so I suppose it can be classed as a positive that there's only a single new recruit in the squad. Laurent's role as one of the deeper midfielders was slightly surprising, because everything from his stint at Shrewsbury implied that he's a similar, but more offensive player than Rinomhota. Swift takes the majority of the ball, so he's not expected to be the main playmaker, but he was comfortable in possession and picks the right pass when needed. Plus his pressing, and positio

A Potted History of Veljko Paunović

Veljko Paunović is Reading manager. The Serbian is a relative unknown here, but after leading his home nation to the U20 World Cup he put his name on the proverbial map. That lead to taking over at MLS side Chicago Fire in 2015, where he stayed for four years before being fired with one of the worst ever MLS records. For the past year, he's been unemployed. Serbia's victory at the U20 World Cup in New Zealand was a surprise. 2015 remains the only tournament that Serbia has qualified for since the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The tournament opened with a loss to Uruguay, a game in which they played a 3-6-1. For the subsequent group games they switched to a 4-2-3-1 or alternated to a 4-1-4-1; both Mali and Mexico were dispatched 2-0. They kept the same set-up for the knock-out phase, but were never as convincing, needing extra time in every round. An injury-time equaliser against Hungary combined with an own goal in the round of 16, penalties were required to see off The USA in the

Replacing Omar Richards

In the summer team report I wrote: "we  really  don't want to be going into 2021/2022 without any LBs so a new contract for Omar has to be on the agenda early". And yet, that seems to be exactly what's happening with Richards set to depart for pastures new. Whether he goes to Bayern Munich or not, bigger clubs are circling. There's a couple of options internally, and the club are also looking elsewhere. Ethan Bristow The youngster has been the go-to left-back for cup matches and tends to start for the U23s. He's been brought onto the bench since Richards' injury, but has found himself behind Gibson and McIntyre in the pecking order. Bristow's little run inside drags the right-back narrow, and gives Aluko space to attack He has good vision to spot a pass, and often plays them first time to not allow the defence to put him under pressure. That's normally followed by an intelligent run, and not always to get the ball - sometimes he simply pulls a defe