Matches between Birmingham and Reading are always intense. The unofficial derby between the Blues and Royals goes back years and the rivalry continued this weekend.
The last 11 encounters have all been decided by no more than a single goal, including five draws. Yesterday was no different as the teams battled it out once more in a 1-1 stalemate.
Birmingham take advantage in first half
Birmingham started as the brighter team and within five minutes, they earned themselves a corner. Sarah Mayling kicked a delightful inswinging ball destined for the back of the net, only for Royals goalkeeper Grace Moloney to palm it off the line. Ruby Mace was first to react to the rebound and she rocketed her shot into the back of the net.
Rachel Rowe was very lively for the visitors. She picked the ball up in midfield and sent a powerful ball towards goal which was well saved by Hannah Hampton.
The game was very open with Birmingham having plenty of chances in the first half, but they couldn’t take advantage of them. Claudia Walker, running the front line by herself, found herself in space and fired a shot but Moloney was equal to it.
Walker and Mayling combined well once again with Mayling finding a clever through ball to Ruesha Littlejohn. The Irish midfielder mis-hit the ball and Reading’s Bethan Roberts almost diverted the ball into her own net only for Moloney to gather it.
Reading hit back
Reading left back Lily Woodham made several runs down the wing as she picked up the long balls. The Royals’ tenacity paid off when they won themselves a corner just after the hour mark.
The deep swinging corner was headed goalward by Fara Williams but Hampton parried the ball away. Then, much like the first goal, it was a question of who would react first. Rowe fired in from the edge of the box to claim the equaliser.
Neither side wanted to settle for a draw and both went in search of the three points. First, Blues skipper Christie Murray sent a thundering shot on to the crossbar. At the other end, Danielle Carter almost won it for Reading but her shot was saved yet again by Hampton.
It ended all square for the sixth time in 12 matches.
What the result means
Reading are safe in mid-table and the highest they can achieve this season is sixth place. Birmingham are in the midst of a relegation battle and will be delighted if not perhaps slightly disappointed with a draw.
Next up for Reading are Brighton & Hove Albion who they will leapfrog if they get the win. The Blues have the small matter of local derby against fellow strugglers Aston Villa. A win for either side will almost certainly guarantee their survival in the WSL.