Chelsea drew 2-2 with Reading for the second time this season, while Birmingham City gained ground on Liverpool with a decisive victory.
Sunday 25th March
FA WSL 1
Birmingham City 4-0 Liverpool (Att: 869)
Chelsea 2-2 Reading (Att: 1,652)
Chelsea recover against Reading to remain unbeaten
Reading put Chelsea’s unbeaten record under real strain but Emma Hayes side hit back to draw 2-2 and go two points clear at the top, but from a game more than second-placed Manchester City.
Brooke Chaplen’s penalty after a clumsy Erin Cuthbert challenge gave Reading a half-time advantage at league leaders Chelsea.
The lead was doubled early in the second half, Fara Williams making the most of a defensive mistake to find the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The Royals may well have been awarded a second spot-kick but the hosts went straight down the other end and Jonna Anderson was left free to fire high into the net.
Mary Earps turned away a Fran Kirby strike for a corner but Carly Telford then had to tip a Lauren Bruton shot onto the crossbar.
Chelsea were back on level terms inside the last 15 minutes, Cuthbert finding Kirby in space, who slotted home from the right-hand side of the area.
Drew Spence’s header from a free-kick forced Earps to turn the ball over the bar, the Royals’ keeper later also denying Kirby when clean through in the dying minutes.
There was drama deep into added time as Spence turned the ball home, only for a foul given to be given for the challenge on Earps.
Reading’s Rachel Furness said: “We are obviously disappointed to let the lead slip, yes we have got a very good point away from home but we felt we gifted Chelsea the goals.
“Chelsea are a very good team, they are in the Champions League so it just shows we can compete and we were good enough to get three points today.
“It is about game management and we know ourselves we had five or ten minute spells where we could have been better on the ball..”
Chelsea’s Fran Kirby commented: “I don’t think we were good enough in the first half, we were a bit sluggish getting out of the blocks so credit to Reading, they took the chances when they came with the penalty.
“It shows the character that we have in the team to get a point, but we are obviously disappointed not to get three. It is a busy schedule and we just need to try and get as many points as possible as well as focusing on the Champions League.
“They were holding a line so we had to make sure we pushed them back and play in the pocket. I would have liked to get more goals today but the main thing is we got a point.”
Birmingham go within two points of Liverpool
An outstanding team performance saw Birmingham City run out 4-0 winners against Liverpool in a mid-table WSL 1 battle.
Rachel Williams opened the scoring with a powerful finish on 12 minutes after good set-up play from Ellen White.
The lead was doubled just 7 minutes later, when Paige Williams’ cross was deflected over Siobhan Chamberlain and into the far corner.
It was 3-0 on 33 minutes when Jess Carter found space on the edge of the box and netted via the post.
Beth England was close to getting a goal back, Chamberlain kept out long-range efforts by Emma Follis and Paige Williams before White completed the scoring off Sarah Mayling’s cross.
Liverpool’s Sophie Ingle said: “It was disappointing. I think in the first half it wasn’t good enough from all of us as a team. We knew that at half-time but it’s hard to come back from three goals down.
“I don’t think we worked hard enough. We didn’t stick to the game plan. They’re a really good side and we allowed them to play, which is down to us.”
Birmingham goalscorer Rachel Williams commented: “Marc (Skinner) works with me a lot on shooting because he says I’ve got a lot of power but sometimes I just need to tame the beast and caress the ball.
“A few of the girls were taking the mick out of me at half-time, saying it looked like I was winding one up. I said, ‘It doesn’t matter, they all count!’.
“That’s just credit to Marc and the staff for working hard with us. They’ve been looking to get some more goals out of me so it was good to pop up with one today.”
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