Women's Super League
Arsenal Women held by Reading in Super League
- Credit: PA
Arsenal dropped more points in the Women's Super League title race after being held to a 1-1 draw by Reading at the Madejski Stadium after a below-par display.
The Gunners handed a debut to Anna Patten as Lotte Wubben-Moy started alongside her and Manuela Zinsberger returned in goal after missing the last three games in the league.
Reading took the lead in the fifth minute when former Gunners star Emma Mitchell crossed for Laura Bruton and she flicked the ball in at the front post beyond Zinsberger.
On 15 minutes Vivianne Miedema had her first sight of goal when she was played in, but Jess Fishlock was on hand to block her effort.
Jill Roord then forced Grace Moloney into a save as she found some space from outside the area but her shot was only directed at the keeper.
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Reading, however, could have doubled their lead when Patten was dispossessed by Rachel Rowe but Zinsberger raced off her line to clear the danger away.
Lotte Wubben-Moy was then booked in the 26th minute after a poor challenge on Rowe as she slid in late and didn't win the ball, instead catching the Welsh international.
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Arsenal were playing very poor football as the clock reached 30 minutes, playing with a very slow tempo and going through the motions with Reading comfortable and on top despite not creating many chances.
However, Danielle van de Donk had a good burst of pace and neat footwork but she lost out to Deanna Cooper before she could slot the ball into the path of Miedema.
On 39 minutes Molly Bartrip was on hand with some good defending as Lisa Evans crossed for Miedema but the defender did well to clear the danger.
Arsenal, however, did find themselves level when Patten crossed for Roord and her header was saved by Moloney pushing the ball back out into the area, before Miedema slotted into the net from close range in the 40th minute.
Joe Montemurro then rolled the dice at half-time as he brought on Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Jennifer Beattie, taking off Wubben-Moy, Patten and Malin Gut.
Reading then had the first opening of the second half when poor communication in the visiting defence saw Natasha Harding nearly in on goal, but Zinsberger reacted well to rush out and clear the danger away.
The Royals then had another huge opportunity when Fishlock won the ball off Roord and played the ball into the path of Bruton but she was surrounded and couldn't get her shot away from a promising position.
On the hour mark Miedema was then nearly played in but before she couldn't get an effort in on goal due to a well-timed interception from Kristin Leine.
Zinsberger was forced into a good save on 61 minutes when Mitchell fired in an effort from range but the Austrian keeper got down well to push the ball away from danger.
Arsenal then created another opening in an end-to-end game when Mead crossed for Miedema but she slid the ball over the top of the crossbar from close range.
In what was a good period of pressure from the Gunners, Mead had another clear-cut opening as she was played in but fired wide of the target as she lacked composure.
Montemurro then made his fourth substitution of the game as van de Donk came off and was replaced by Caitlin Foord with 20 minutes remaining.
Moloney in the Royals goal then made a fine save when Foord whipped in a ball for Roord at the near post and her effort was superbly kept out by the Republic of Ireland stopper tipping the ball wide of the target.
Roord was then denied a couple of minutes later when Miedema was picked out by Foord and her effort was blocked before the ball rebounded out into the path of Roord whose low effort was superbly saved by the legs of Moloney.
Lia Wälti then saw herself in the book as Fishlock looked to break away for Reading before the Swiss international brought her down and was shown a yellow card.
In the 77th minute Mitchell came close to putting the Royals ahead when she whipped in a corner under Zinsberger's crossbar, but it was travelling quickly and luckily for Arsenal sailed across the box.
Zinsberger then had to adjust herself well to claim a cross when Rowe crossed from the right, but the Austrian came out well to claim the loose ball.
In the final minute of the game Roord was played in on goal but the Netherlands international midfielder was denied by Moloney racing off her line to claim the loose ball.
In doing so the keeper caught her team-mate Leine, forcing the defender to be stretchered off meaning that nine minutes were added on.
However, Arsenal's lack of a quality final ball resulted in more frustration as nothing materialised and they had to settle for a point.
Arsenal: Zinsberger, Patten (Beattie 46), Wubben-Moy (Williamson 46), McCabe, Wälti, Gut (Mead 46), Little, Roord, Evans, Miedema, Van de Donk (Foord 69).