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Brighton 1-3 Reading

Reading scored more than once for the first time since September to end a run of six winless games away at Brighton.

Reading's press forced the turnover for Fishlock to capitalise on

The difference-maker was evidently Jess Fishlock, who was involved in all three goals. At times in possession, Angharad James seemed to play as the lone anchor, meaning Fishlock could push forward. Both her goals were slightly fortuitous but brought about by Reading's press. Brighton's Felicity Gibbons played an errant pass under pressure into the middle of the park, straight to Fishlock. Rebekah Stott slipped as she went to close down the midfielder, giving Fishlock the time to pick her spot from 18 yards.

Next, it was the turn of the right-back, Maya Le Tissier (I checked, no relation), to be robbed of possession. Maybe there's something up with the pitch in Crawley because Le Tissier also slipped, allowing Lily Woodham to attack the box. Victoria Williams got her head on the cross, but could only divert to the onrushing Fishlock, who smashed the ball home.

Reading had a few chances breaking away but got the final pass wrong for all but Rachel Rowe's goal.

Reading lead the league in tackles in both the middle and final thirds, and in total pressures (particularly in the final third). That hasn't always paid dividends this season but was key to the success here. Even Rachel Rowe's goal to seal it was set up from a defensive action, with Cooper winning a header on the halfway line. The ball fell to Fishlock, who drove at the defence before feeding Rowe. The Welsh international (sorry, I know that doesn't narrow it down) chipped over the keeper and scored off the post. I'm not convinced it was actually over the line, but it's not my opinion that matters.

Eikeland drew out the left-back, allowing Harding to make a run into the channel

The somewhat strange shape of the away side's formation caused issues for Brighton, with their left-back being dragged out of position by Eikeland on more than one occasion. Harding managed to run into the space created, but Bruton played more centrally, with Eikeland looking to run those channels. Even then, she found space behind Gibbons - though she was less likely to be found.

Fara Williams, who has been such a crucial part of the side since joining from Arsenal, looks an increasingly peripheral figure. She had no shots, no key passes, and the joint fewest pressures of any outfield player playing over an hour. Obviously, she does bring set-piece ability, but there's enough in the squad that it's not game-changing at the moment. Perhaps she's still feeling the effects of her injury, and it would be foolish to write off a genuine legend like Williams, but Reading need to see more.

Harries breaks clear of the defence, gets into the box, and should shoot into the far corner! But instead faffs about, and the keeper smothers. Decision making will come with game time.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Emma Harries has forced her way into the side with none of Reading's established forwards firing. The eighteen-year-old has looked lively in both her outings, but so far hasn't shown an end product. That will hopefully come, as she's getting into the right areas, consistently getting behind the opposition defence. As you may expect with a youngster coming into the team, she's a little tentative to shoot and doesn't always make the right decision, but there's nothing like learning on the job.

The only blemish on an otherwise positive day, aside from an injury to the captain, was Deanna Cooper's rash challenge to give away a penalty. In the end, she didn't make much contact but going to ground in the area is always going to give the referee a decision. It's a particularly bad challenge when you consider Kaagman was looking to pass to the edge of the box. Cooper has good and bad moments, but thankfully this time she was bailed out. On other occasions, one goal would be enough to ensure Reading couldn't win.

A win alleviates some of the pressure on the season, but given everyone around them have played fewer matches they'll likely find themselves in a bubble between Everton and those below. Matches against Chelsea and Arsenal after the break will be tough and they may find themselves dragged back into the back below (albeit with a slim chance of relegation)


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