Report: Reading Women 1-1 Sunderland Ladies

Sunderland Ladies were pegged back by a battling Reading side and denied their first league victory of the season at Adams Park.

Beth Mead put the Lady Black Cats ahead after nine minutes when she slotted home the rebound of her penalty, which was saved.

Reading responded well and after missing a host of chances in the first 45, Helen Ward levelled the fixture in the 73rd minute from the penalty spot after Megan Beer was dismissed for handball.

With Kylla Sjoman, Krystle Johnston, Rachel Pitman and Hilde Gunn Olsen injured, Carlton Fairweather made just one change from the team that played Manchester City on Friday.

After the Lady Black Cats’ narrow 2-0 defeat at home to City just four days ago, Fairweather approached the trip to Reading keen for the Lasses to secure their first league win of the campaign.

In order for Sunderland to achieve that, the Ladies’ head coach looked to call on the dogged team spirit that helped them claw back a two-goal deficit at Liverpool two weeks ago.

With the first goal always crucial, Fairweather’s side were gifted the perfect opportunity just nine minutes in to break the deadlock when Molly Bartrip fouled Mead inside the area.

Mead dusted herself down to take the spot kick, and despite seeing her initial effort saved by an outstretched Mary Earps, Mead was alive to the follow up and tapped home the rebound.

Reading responded well and went close when Rebecca Jane fired over from the edge of the box before Rachel Rowe was flagged offside after being played through.

Despite The Royals’ chances, Sunderland were happy to control the flow of the game and match the hosts’ physical approach with a number of fierce but well-timed tackles.

As the clock ticked over into the 24th minute, Tori Williams was unfortunate not to double the visitors' lead when she managed to get a toe on Lucy Staniforth’s floated set-piece.

Moments later, Reading broke forward and had their best chance of the half when Emma Folis volleyed wide after a fine cross fell to her at the back post.

It was an action-packed first 45 minutes, and that continued into the second period as heavy rain lashed down onto the Adams Park pitch.

Reading controlled much of the second period as the Lady Black Cats conceded possession far too easily across the field.

But Rachel Furness proved to be a constant thorn in the Royals’ team as she made a number of key interceptions as the hosts were left frustrated for much of the half.

However, the one time when the play did get past Furness, skipper Steph Bannon was on hand to make an excellent last-ditch tackle to deny Helen Ward a certain equaliser six yards out.

The hosts’ pressure eventually paid off in the 73rd minute when they were awarded a penalty following Megan Beer’s handball on the line to deny Shelly Cox's goalbound volley.

Ward stepped up and dispatched her spot kick into the roof of the net to level the match and set up a tense finale.

Sunderland looked to fight back and could’ve restored their advantage when Roche delivered a teasing ball across the face of goal.

All it needed was a touch, but that summed up the Lady Black Cats’ afternoon and the game ended in a draw.

Sunderland Ladies starting XI: Laws, Holmes, Beer, Bannon, Williams (Potts, 50), Chaplen, Staniforth, Furness (Joice, 66), Ramshaw, Roche, Mead.

Unused subs: Beer, Hill, Brown.

Attendance: 685

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