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Reading FC Women 2 Nottingham Forest 0
Reading won a fiercely contested match against Nottingham Forest 2-0 at Tadley, inflicting on the visitors their first league defeat of the season and recording their second win.
A goal in each half decided a physical encounter, with Forest reduced to ten players in the first fifteen seconds of the second half, Ellie Gilliatt being sent off for a challenge on Dan Puddefoot. Natasha Caswell missed an early penalty for Reading but made amends with a super finish before the break and Linda Hirons scored after an excellent set up by Mikaela Howell.
Reading started the better and when Lyndsey Cunningham handled a bouncing ball on 10 minutes, Caswell struck the penalty against the bar. Forest had a deflected Suzanne Davies shot which Grace Moloney did well to keep out on fifteen minutes but chances were few and far between.
Reading threatened in the air, Emma Pearmine going close from a corner and Puddefoot testing Claire Wallhead but it was Caswell who scored a beauty on 39 minutes, picking up the ball on the left corner of the area and measuring a perfect lob over the Forest keeper.
Cunningham sent a header wide for Forest from a Catherine Lawson cross on 41 minutes but Reading were generally solid at the back.
The very first challenge after the break saw Gilliatt sent off for dangerous play and Puddefoot carried off seriously injured on a stretcher and the match became littered with fierce challenges and contested decisions. Nat Clarke was cautioned on 59 minutes for a tackle which left Caswell needing lengthy treatment, then the victim was later similarly sanctioned for a foul on Clarke.
By then Moloney had preserved the lead with a fine save from Davies and Reading had gone two goals ahead when Howell juggled the ball on the left wing to go clear and cross for Hirons to nod in from close range on 56 minutes.
Caswell twice tested Wallhead from distance as Reading sought to make the game safe but it was Forest who finished the stronger. Clarke headed wide, Lawson sent in three dangerous corners, one of which saw Nikki Watts clear a Beth Bailey header off the line. Davies crossed from the left and Forest sub Kerry Bartlett headed over as the Midlanders made light of their numerical disadvantage.
Reading had to battle really hard to protect their lead as the clock ran down over ten minutes of added time, but deserved their win for good teamwork and the moments of quality which clinched the victory.
Reading FC Women: Grace Moloney, Stacey Wiggins, Megan Alexander, Linda Hirons, Emma Pearmine, Kelly Chambers, Francesca Kirby, Natasha Caswell, Danielle Puddefoot, Mikaela Howell, Nkki Watts. Subs: Melissa Fletcher, Amy Shaw, Charlotte Chard.
Nottingham Forest: Claire Wallhead, Lyndsey Cunningham, Ellie Gilliatt, Carla Tomkins, Beth Bailey, Natalie Clarke, Jemma Connor-Iommi, Catherine Lawson, Abbie Hinton, Kelly Finley, Suzanne Davies. Subs: Catherine Stainthorpe, Lauren Havard, Kerry Bartlett, Katie Waddell.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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