WSL: Reading v Brighton and Hove Albion
A tale of two halves see things end all square in a 2-2 spectacular at the Madejski Stadium
27 March 2023
A brace apiece was the order of the day in Berkshire as Reading and Brighton played out a pulsating 2-2 draw. Veatriki Sarri had scored twice inside 13 minutes to put Albion in cruise control, but a second half brace off the bench for Emma Harries earned Reading a share of the spoils in this bottom of the table WSL clash.
Reading boss Kelly Chambers made only one change to the side that was defeated by Chelsea last time out, with Gemma Evans replacing Brooke Hendrix at the back. Brighton changed their goalkeeper for this one, with Australian Lydia Williams coming into the side to replace Megan Walsh. Emma Kullberg also replaced Elisabeth Terland as Brighton looked to have set up in a 5-4-1 system.
The hosts got this game underway and you could sense the tension from early on in RG12. Reading worked the first opportunity of the game as Faye Bryson saw a headed chance blocked whilst Amalie Eikeland header over from a corner.
It was the visitors however on their first foray forward ho broke the deadlock on this crucial afternoon on 7 minutes. A deep cross from the left channel by Poppy Pattinson was headed down by Katie Robinson to Veatriki Sarri who swivelled and smashed home a first time left footed effort into the corner past the helpless Grace Moloney in the Reading goal to draw first blood for the visitors.
Barely six minutes later, the Seagulls had a second, the ball was worked back out to the left corner with yet another deep ball which the hosts didn’t deal with and Sarri reacted quickest again to prod the ball home and doubled the visitors lead. Albion so nearly had a third after neat work down the right by Katie Robinson and Emma Kullberg resulting in the latter cutting inside onto her left foot but her effort whistled wide of the post. Reading then finally upped the ante a little and had their first two strikes at goal which forced the Seagulls stopper, Lydia Williams into action. Firstly, Faye Bryson combined well with Eikeland and Charlie Wellings to send a ferocious half volley towards goal which Williams superbly saved, with the stopper then up again very quickly to deny Reading from the resulting corner.
The visitors then sped away again on the counter and could’ve been out of sight and it was Sarri at the heart of it again, but her right footed effort was well saved by Grace Moloney in the Reading goal with Lee Guem-Min’s follow up being blocked en route to goal. Albion were the forced into a change just before the half hour, with Guro Bergsvand being withdrawn and replaced by Danielle Carter. Reading were finishing the first half strongly in an attempt to claw one back but the visitors were displaying some dogged defending to keep the hosts out as a series of corners in quick succession didn’t come off for the hosts. The substitute, Danielle Carter was the latest in Albion orange to try her luck fir their third goal but her effort was blocked well in the box. Eikeland then rather summed up the story of Reading’s half, trying an audacious chip over Williams in the Bruighton goal due to a lack of support, which ended up dropping well wide in the last action of an entertaining half.
Half Time - Reading 0-2 Brighton and Hove Albion
The second half got underway and whatever Kelly Chambers said too her players at half time worked, because one minute and 15 seconds into the second half, the Royals got back into it. Emma Harries who was brought on for Gemma Evans before the second half started raced clear onto an Emma Mukandi through ball to slot home with her first touch and get the Royal’s right back into proceedings.
Brighton then broke swiftly once again with a two on two, Danielle Carter was then found free in the middle by Katie Robinson, but her low effort was held by Grace Moloney who once again thwarted Albion’s charge for a third goal. Reading then spurred a golden chance to pull themselves level as the electric start to the half continued. A free kick was floated in from the left by Rachel Rowe which landed on the head of Sanne Troelsgaard Nielsen, who couldn’t have been more than five or six yards out, but her header went straight at Williams when if either side of the goalkeeper, the game would’ve had it’s fourth goal.
Just before the hour mark, Brighton someway, somehow didn’t manage to get a third and surely thought things were conspiring against them, Katie Robinson’s effort was brilliantly kept out by Moloney who then somehow denied Sarri on the follow up after the attacker slipped over at the worst possible moment. The double whammy for Albion delivered on the counter from that very incident, Lilly Woodham got herself down the left hand side, spun away from her marker and stood the ball up to the back stick and there was substitute Emma Harries yet again who planted her header into the corner to level the game up at 2-2 and leave Brighton rueing the chances they had missed.
The scorer of Brighton’s double, Veatriki Sarri was then replaced by Libby Bance as we entered the final 20 minutes in Berkshire. With 17 minutes to go, Kate Robinson perhaps missed a chance which could be pivotal come the end of the season. She raced onto a through ball, rounded Grace Moloney who sped off her line and misjudged the bounce, took a took and set herself before seeing her effort smash the outside off the post with the goal gaping infront of her, the biggest of the chances Albion hadn’t taken in the game, and what a pivotal moment that could be come season’s end,
This pulsating encounter ticked into the final ten minutes with both sides looking to net a crucial winner in their fight’s against the drop. The seagulls had another huge, huge chance to win it late on, as a long ball forward was headed on by Lee Geum-Min into the path of Julia Zigiotti Olme but her effort was blasted over the bar when she really should’ve hit the target.
Neither side could find a winner in stoppage time, and with Leicester’s loss at Aston Villa today sees Reading remain four points clear of the drop in 10th place, with Brighton one below in 11th, but with two games in hand on both Leicester and Reading having only played 14 WSL games this season.
Full Time - Reading 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Reading - Harries 46’, 60’
Brighton - Sarri 8’, 13’