READING FC Women returned from their winter break with a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham City in Women’s Super League 1.

Kelly Chambers’ Royals are now four games without a win in all competitions stretching back to November.

Chambers welcomed fit-again Lauren Bruton and Jade Moore for the clash in Solihull on Sunday.

Reading dominated the first half but were left to rue a string of missed chances.

Fara Williams struck a free-kick narrowly wide, Bruton fired just over the bar and Remi Allen’s volley was comfortably saved by Blues keeper Hannah Hampton.

But the hosts were different proposition in the second half as Royals keeper Grace Maloney and Jo Potter both made vital blocks after an Emma Follis cross caused havoc in the visitors’ box before Lucy Staniforth blazed over.

Blues piled on the pressure with Maloney denying Charlie Wellings from distance before Lucy Quinn headed inches wide at the far post.

Former Royal Follis remained a thorn the visitors’ side and it was her cross that led to Birmingham’s opener on 72 minutes, with Kerys Harrop heading home.

However, Reading hit back and as the introduction of Gemma Davison from the bench gave them a different dimension.

They were denied an equaliser soon after when Allen’s close-range finish from a Davison assist was ruled out for offside.

However, Reading thought they had snatched a point in the 87th minute when Rachel Furness nodded the ball back across goal for Allen to sweep home.

But there was heartache to follow two minutes later as Staniforth crossed and Birmingham sub Meaghan Sargeant looped a header over Maloney for the winning goal.

Chambers groaned: “We were on top for the first 45 minutes but we needed to make sure we capitalised on that, and we didn't. From 60 minutes onwards the game turned into a scrap and Birmingham do that very well.”

Allen added: "I thought we played well. We managed the game in the first half and weathered the storm second half. We got ourselves back in the game but didn't see it out and it's hugely disappointing for us.

"It was a feisty game and obviously we need to take our chances. If we had done that in the first half then potentially we put the game to bed."

Royals are back in action tomorrow night (Wednesday) with a trip to Kingsmeadow to face Chelsea Women (7.30pm ko).

Birmingham: Hampton, Williams (Sargeant 65), Harrop, Mannion, Scott, Ladd, Arthur, Wellings, Follis (Mayling 78), Quinn, Staniforth. Subs not used: Ewers, Hayles, Scofield. Booked: Harrop 32.

Reading: Moloney, Pacheco, Pearce (Bailey 85), Potter, Harding, Furness, Allen, Moore (Bartrip 66), Williams, Bruton (Davison 75), Chaplen. Subs not used: Jane, Estcourt, Woodham, Kite. Booked: Moore 18, Furness 30, Harding 53, Allen 82.

Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis

Attendance: 606.

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