By Aidan Small
We made a disappointing start to 2021 on Sunday as we were held to a 1-1 draw by Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Anna Patten was handed her second Arsenal debut after rejoining the club last week, while Lia Walti made her first start since returning from injury.
Lining up in an attacking 3-2-2-3 formation, Joe Montemurro would have hoped for a fast start from his side, but it was the hosts who came flying out of the blocks, with two former Gunners combining for the opener.
Standing over a free-kick, Emma Mitchell whipped a dangerous delivery into the penalty area and Lauren Bruton was on hand to finish at the near post after just five minutes.
This should have been the wake-up call we needed, but over the next half hour, we remained sloppy in possession and struggled to cut through Reading’s aggressive press.
Vivianne Miedema only needs one chance in front of goal, though, so when Jill Roord’s glancing header was saved and pushed back into the penalty area, our No 11 was well-placed to level the scores.
The Netherlands international has now scored 12 Women’s Super League goals in just 11 fixtures this season.
But that late first-half push wasn’t enough for Montemurro, as he opted for a triple change at the break.
With our troubles in playing out from the back, Jen Beattie and Leah Williamson replaced Lotte Wubben-Moy and Patten, while Malin Gut was swapped out for Beth Mead, with Lisa Evans filling in at right back.
These changes saw us carve our three golden opportunities in quick succession.
First, Miedema fired wide from close range following some exceptional wing play by Mead, before the latter was played through on goal and uncharacteristically fired over the bar.
Jill Roord’s instinctive flicked effort was then somehow clawed away by Grace Moloney.
We continued to search for a winner, placing the Royals under some late pressure, but we were ultimately made to pay for a sloppy first-half performance and a lack of composure and quality in the final third.
WHAT IT MEANS
Up next, we will face West Ham on Sunday, January 24.
The game will take place at Meadow Park with kick-off at 12pm (UK time).
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