League leaders Chelsea had to settle for a point at third-placed Arsenal but they did double their advantage over Manchester City, who were beaten at home by a very in-form Reading.
Results for Sunday 1st April:
FA WSL 1
Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea (Att: 1,807)
Birmingham City 2-0 Sunderland (Att: 540)
Manchester City 0-2 Reading (Att: 1,274)
Yeovil Town 0-4 Liverpool (Att: 312)
FA WSL 2
Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Durham 1-1 Oxford United (Att: 257)
Sheffield FC P-P Millwall Lionesses (waterlogged pitch)
Manchester City missed out on the chance to top FA WSL 1 after falling to a surprise 2-0 defeat to mid-table Reading in front of attending England manager Phil Neville.
Despite City dominating in possession and crafting several opportunities through Nikita Parris, the away team took the lead on 34 minutes when Remi Allen latched onto a succession of failed clearances to spectacularly bicycle kick Reading ahead.
The Royals had former Blues’ forward Natasha Harding to thank for their lead at the break, when the Welsh international blocked spectacularly on the line to keep Parris’s goalbound strike out minutes after their opener.
City began the second half fighting, hitting the crossbar courtesy of Parris, before Reading doubled their lead on 61 minutes when Jo Potter’s cross found unmarked defensive partner Kirsty Pearce, who headed home.
The Blues were handed a lifeline when Potter was sent off for dragging down Parris in a goal-scoring opportunity, but the away side managed to hold on and pick up their fifth win of the season.
Nick Cushing – Manchester City manager: “I thought we were alright in patches. You could tell from the start that the game was a grind with the travel that we have had and the amount of games that we have had. I thought the players managed to get some kind of rhythm in the game.
“Although we didn’t create a lot of clear cut opportunities, I thought we took the game to Reading in the end. In the end we saw one team that was fresh and one team that was tired.”
Kelly Chambers – Reading manager: “We knew it was going to be a tough game today.
“The football that we played, the way that we defended today, was outstanding. I think the girls deserve the result.
“Remi Allen has really kicked on this year, that’s six goals for her this season from midfield. She is really kicking on, the way she is playing and the football that she is playing and now adding goals to her game is fantastic and nice to see.
“We need to make sure that this run of form continues and we keep competing with the best in the country. We just need to kick on and see if we can finish as high as we can in the league.”
Beth Mead marked a superb personal performance with the equalising goal, as Arsenal claimed a 1-1 draw against Chelsea in what was a clash between two of the high-flyers in FA WSL 1.
Drew Spence almost gave Chelsea the perfect start when her powerful strike from 25 yards was tipped over by Arsenal goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal in the second minute.
Mead then had a shot from a narrow angle saved by Hedvig Lindahl’s foot in what was a lively opening, with the visitors eventually breaking the deadlock.
It came from a van Veenendaal kick on 31 minutes that fell for Ramona Bachmann, who bent a lovely ball round for Fran Kirby to control before prodding her shot into the net.
The Gunners drew level in first-half stoppage time and they did so in style with Mead’s impressive solo effort.
Collecting the ball wide on the right, Mead surged down the wing and just decided to keep on going, powering into the box and sliding a low effort past Lindahl into the far corner.
Arsenal goalscorer Beth Mead: “I’d say we’re disappointed with the point, really, because we wanted all three points and we had chances in the second half to get those three points as well.
“Obviously a draw is nicer than losing, but we’re Arsenal, we need to be getting into the top two now and we needed that win.
“I jumped up out of my seat in the end when Dan Carter went through, thinking her shot was going to sneak into the corner, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.”
Chelsea striker Fran Kirby commented: “I think, overall, we dominated the game and that we kept possession better than they did.
“We know that we’re going to create chances, whether it’s in the first half, second half, whenever, but we have to put them in the back of the net.
“It’s always a hard game against Arsenal – they have improved defensively into a good team, although we still caused them quite a few problems.”
Ellen White made it 11 goals in 11 games as she scored one and made the other to push Birmingham City up to third in WSL 1 with a comfortable 2-0 win over Sunderland.
Visitors Sunderland started brightly and Blues keeper Ann-Katrin Berger had to backpedal well to tip Lucy Staniforth’s 25-yard lob over the bar on seven minutes.
But the Blues led on 19 minutes as White latched on to a Rachel Williams pass, surged into the area from the right and rolled a cool left-footed finish across Sunderland keeper Rachael Laws.
The roles were reversed four minutes later as City made it 2-0, White teeing up Williams, whose 18-yard shot took a slight deflection off Sunderland defender Ellie Stewart to wrongfoot Laws.
Sunderland could have halved the deficit on 50 minutes as Berger’s weak punch from a Staniforth cross fell to Dominique Bruinenberg but she pulled her shot wide.
Blues came close to a third on 70 minutes as Paige Williams’ inswinging corner almost crept under the bar but keeper Laws managed to tip it onto the woodwork.
Sunderland nearly pulled one back six minutes from time as Mollie Lambert hit the post from Rachel Pitman’s through ball but the Blues held out for a fourth win – and fourth clean sheet – on the spin.
Birmingham striker Ellen White said: “Obviously, we are delighted to get another three points and another clean sheet but, in terms of our overall performance, we set ourselves really high standards, so we are probably a little bit disappointed with the way we played.
“We were a little bit sloppy on the ball at times but when we had the chances, we were clinical and a good few months ago, we could probably have lost this game, so it shows how far we’ve come and how consistent we’ve become.”
Sunderland captain Lucy Staniforth said: “I thought we did really well and everyone stood up to be counted.
“We’ve had five or six chances that are decent goal-scoring opportunities and we are just gutted that we’ve not managed to come away with anything.”
Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners with a dominant performance in the WSL 1 against Yeovil Town at Taunton Town FC
Laura Coombs put Liverpool ahead after just 45 seconds as Alex Greenwood’s cross was half-volleyed in off the post from the edge of the area.
Gemma Bonner added a second on her return from injury with Ash Hodson tapping home just two minutes later while Beth England added a fourth midway through the second half.
Liverpool captain Gemma Bonner said: “Winning was the most important thing for us coming into the game today on the back of a few disappointing results. We’re delighted to get back to winning ways.
“We knew we needed to get the performance right and the result would take care of itself.
Yeovil captain Megan Walsh on Liverpool: “It’s always nice to get man of the match but it is a team game so we’ve got to look at our performance and do better.
“We didn’t get off to the best start conceding very early on. I don’t think we touched the ball before they scored so that’s something we’ve got to look at.”
Chloe Peplow’s pinpoint free-kick and Amanda Nilden’s calm finish ensured Brighton & Hove Albion kept up the pressure on the top two in WSL 2 with a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
An end-to-end first half concluded with Peplow firing in a free-kick from the left of box but it took until the 92nd minute for Brighton to seal victory when Nilden slotted home her first goal for the club.
It was a fourth win in a row for the Seagulls that sees them move just a point behind second-place Millwall Lionesses and within seven of table-toppers Doncaster Rovers Belles, with a game in hand.
Spurs came close to equalising as Lucy Gillett in the home goal had to tip Coral-Jade Haines’ volley over the bar and Bianca Baptiste had an effort ruled out for offside.
A debut goal from substitute Imogen Lancaster saw Oxford United end a run of four straight league defeats, as they came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Durham.
The teenager marked her U’s bow by notching in first-half injury-time, cancelling out Jordan Atkinson’s earlier strike as Durham were denied in their bid to move into the top three in the WSL 2 table.
Durham captain Sarah Wilson said: “It feels like a loss to be honest because we had so many chances – I think we dominated the game throughout.
“But credit to Oxford. They did stretch us in the final few minutes of the game but we dominated otherwise and you can’t control a game like that and come away with nothing.”
Danielle Carlton, Oxford United defender, said: “A very good result for us; I think it has been coming over the last couple of games.
“We haven’t had the luck going for us but I think we showed why we are in this league and why we can compete.
“Coming from behind shows great character and Imogen deserves her debut goal – she trains well, she works hard and she’s taken her chance to shine in the first team.”
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