“IT’S JUST not good enough”.
That was the honest assessment from Reading Women winger Emma Follis after the Royals’ wait for a first WSL 1 win extended with a 1-1 draw against Sunderland Ladies at Adams Park.
The visitors took an early lead when Beth Mead followed up her own missed penalty to tap in but Reading were presented with a lifeline when Megan Beer was sent off for handling on the line with quarter of an hour to play.
Helen Ward duly dispatched the resulting spot kick but the hosts could not sustain any real late pressure to try and force a winner.
“We are disappointed again,” said Follis.
“We’ve come away wanting more and it’s just not good enough really.
“We need to take chances, especially if they’ve gone down to 10 men.
“We just seem to be missing that last little thing that is just so annoying.
“But we’ve got to take the positive. We’ve got another point on the board.”
Kelly Chambers made two changes to her side which lost 2-1 to Arsenal Ladies, most
notably replacing goalkeeper Grace Moloney with Mary Earps for her first league game for Reading.
Nia Jones also dropped to the bench with off-season signing Amber Stobbs preferred while Ward moved to a central striking role.
And the hosts, seeking their first win since promotion to the top flight, started with purpose by forcing a corner in the opening minute before Stobbs’ strong run down the right was unrewarded.
So it came as a real blow to fall 1-0 behind on eight minutes.
It was no surprise as to the source of the goal with Sunderland hot-shot Mead drawing the foul from Molly Bartrip leaving the referee with little option but to point to the spot.
Earps had an immediate chance to make an impact and she so nearly did exactly that, superbly tipping Mead’s low penalty onto the post but could not quite keep out the rebound as the striker notched her third goal against Reading this season.
Reading responded well but could not test Rachael Laws in the Lady Black Cats goal with the ball over the top to Ward causing all sorts of problems.
The striker had a go herself before a couple of minutes later teeing up Becky Jane, but both efforts were wayward.
For all Reading’s pressure, they were so nearly dealt a sucker punch down the other end.
Moments after Rachel Rowe had seen her goal chalked off for offside, Victoria Williams came close to doubling the tally, diverting Lucy Staniforth’s free-kick just wide of the post.
On the half hour mark, just after Follis had fired wide from a Stobbs cross, the winger saw a claim for a penalty waved away as she went down under the challenge of Stephanie Bannon.
After a succession of second half corners, one finally paid off when Bartrip’s delivery was turned goalwards by Kayleigh Hines, only to be stopped by the hand of Beer on the line, who was shown her marching orders.
Up stepped Ward to fire high into the net and level the contest but from there Sunderland controlled the game well and but for a late Hines effort flashing wide, they ground out their point to take back to Wearside with relative comfort.
Reading’s next game is against Birmingham City Ladies on May 19 before a seven week break until the next game in July.
“We kind of don’t want to stop really,” said Follis.
“It’s been frustrating with these fixtures and how poorly they are set out.
“We just want to play week in, week out like a normal season so I don’t really understand why the FA have done that.”
She added: “We’ve shown we can compete (in WSL 1).
“We’re showing pretty much every game now and apart from the first one maybe, we should’ve got more out of the game.
“I think that shows that we’re able to compete with them, it’s just frustrating we haven’t been able to get the three points again.”
READING: Earps; Jane, McGee (c), Bartrip, Cox (Fletcher 87); Hines, Rowe; Stobbs, Bruton (Walkley 65), Follis; Ward.
Subs not used: Moloney, Scott, Estcourt, Cunningham, Jones.
Goal: Ward (74)
SUNDERLAND: Laws; Holmes, Bannon (c), Williams (Potts 50), Beer; Staniforth, Furness (Joice 66); Ramshaw, Chaplen, Roche; Mead.
Subs not used: McDougall, Kelly, Hill.
Goal: Mead (8)
Red card: Beer (73)
Referee: Josh Smith