Lauren Bruton was on target against her former side as Reading earned a deserved 1-1 draw with Women’s Super League giants, Arsenal on Sunday. 

In a well-contested battle, the Royals returned to their usual selves with a physical display against the stunned North London outfit.

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Arsenal have struggled with Covid related problems after letting their players travel to Dubai during the Christmas break and the lack of fitness was on show at the Madejski.

A makeshift defence that included new signing Anna Patten was caught napping within five minutes as striker Bruton poked home an Emma Mitchell free-kick to give Kelly Chambers’ side an early advantage.

Reading controlled the first half with an influential performance from Jess Fishlock in midfield with both Kristine Leine and Rachel Rowe offering attacking outlets.

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Arsenal possesses a team of world stars with top WSL goalscorer, Vivianne Miedema leading the line. The Dutch striker equalised on 40 minutes when Grace Moloney could only divert into her path after a good save from a Jill Roord header.

Under-pressure Arsenal boss, Joe Montemurro, turned to his senior stars on the bench at half time making a triple sub which included two England internationals but his side could not force a winner.

Royals captain Natasha Harding was nearly through after a mix-up between Manuela Zinsberger and Jen Beattie in the Arsenal backline with the ‘keeper recovering moments before disaster.

Chambers’ side were forced on to the back foot during the second period with both Molly Bartrip and Leine called into heroic defensive action on the hour mark.

With 68 minutes played, a golden chance fell to Miedema but she could only divert her effort high and wide from inches out.

Moloney was rarely troubled but produced a fantastic save to deny a Roord header on 70 minutes before Deanna Cooper blocked another effort by the Dutch international midfielder.

Reading lost Jess Fishlock to injury late on as Arsenal continued to press before a deafening scream from Leine has she collided with Roord while making a last-ditch defensive tackle.

The Norwegian defender was stretchered off the pitch but was seen afterwards on crutches in a boot.

With nine minutes added, the Royals held on for their fifth 1-1 draw of the 2020/21 WSL season and will look to return to winning ways when they make the trip to Aston Villa next weekend.

Reading: Moloney, Cooper, Mitchell, Leine (Williams 90), Bartrip, James, Fishlock (Harries 83), Rowe, Bruton (Carter 64), Eikeland, Harding ©.

Bench (Unused): Nayler, Stewart, Childerhouse, Skeels, Roberts.

Goal: Bruton 5.