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Reading 3-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

The final home game brings about the first win in eight matches.

The 4-1-4-1 seen last week seems to have morphed into a 4-4-1-1, with Rowe given a freer role behind Harries and the Williams/James duo positioned alongside each other. The only real surprise was seeing Beth Roberts moved across to the left - presumably down to injuries given that Reading failed to name another LB on their short bench.

Kristine Leine overlapping leads to the first goal, with plenty of bodies in the box to aim the cross for

Things looked a lot rosier than recent weeks after two first-half goals saw Reading in control. The first, a slightly dubious penalty won by Emma Harries. A cross from Leine saw the youngster bundled over and, not for the first time in her career, Williams coolly sent the woman between the sticks the wrong way. The soon-to-be-retiree had played her part in the build-up, but instead of James or herself taking a ridiculous long shot, the team opened up the right hand side and reaped the benefits.

For a side that played without wingers for much of the season, it's a tad surprising to see two goals effectively scored from crosses. Harding didn't give up on a ball that looked to be going out, with the Brighton defender's slackness giving her time to pick out Carter. Her control looped up but in one movement she span and placed the ball beyond Megan Walsh in the Brighton goal.

There was a version of the match at The Madejski where The Royals stroll to victory. Coming toward the end of the first half they were cruising. Leading 2-0 forty-two minutes in, with little threat coming the other way, they somehow conspired to throw away their advantage before half time.

Lee drifts between Cooper and Bartrip. Neither centre back covers themselves in glory

A free-kick from deep was launched to the edge of the Reading box. Kayleigh Green won her header against Beth Roberts and managed to flick over Bartrip for Lee Geum-min to direct her own header past Moloney. When Bartrip loses track of Lee, Cooper has to be much more proactive in either communicating that fact or take control of the danger herself. She appears to do neither, trailing slightly behind the play. Bartrip herself should try to keep more open, to give herself the ability to see both the ball and the player.

The goalkeeper also doesn't seem completely free of blame. It's difficult to properly tell with some matches due to the single-camera angle but it was a fairly tame header that Moloney seems to collapse, rather than spring, toward. It doesn't seem to be right in the corner or clip the post on the way in. I imagine it's one she may want back.

When it comes to Brighton drawing level there was absolutely nothing that the goalie could do. Even the great Fara Williams makes mistakes and it was her dallying on the ball, before trying to beat the Brighton player, from kick-off that meant Lee could take the ball away. From there she took a couple of touches to control the ball, before curling into the top corner from about thirty-five yards. 

Half time probably came to Reading's rescue, allowing them to regroup and, in the words of every footballer on twitter, Go Again. The wide players in the new formation also allow more angles for balls over the top. Seconds after the break Harding went close after a chip from James played her through, and the keeper made the strange decision not to come to claim.

Ten minutes later she put Reading back into the lead, with a long ball over the top from Bartrip picking out the run, and Harding finished between the keeper's legs. The pass was probably meant for Harries, but the striker mistimed her jump and it ran through to the captain. The relief and passion was evident.

Eikeland and Chaplen had chances to put the cherry on top of things as the match drew to a close, but neither were able to capitalise on good positions. Likewise Lee had a chance from a cutback to complete her hattrick, but she totally mishit it.

Given how embedded Kelly Chambers is within Reading it's no surprise that she's managed to see out a poor campaign. A win rate of under 25 percent is not good enough when five teams in the league don't even reach a point per game. It's tough to see how next season improves with the churn in the squad, but Chambers will have to find a way (after a tricky final fixture away at... Chelsea needing to win to clinch the league).


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