Reading’s winless run extended to three matches after a narrow 1-0 loss at home to Birmingham.
The only goal of the game came in the seventh minute when Meaghan Sargeant bounced a shot beyond Grace Moloney.
Royals goalkeeper Moloney impressed throughout the afternoon, denying Lucy Staniforth and former team-mate Emma Follis.
At the other end Brooke Chaplen and Lauren Bruton went close to grabbing an equaliser, but Reading fell to their first league defeat of the campaign, following on from Wednesday’s goalless draw at West Ham United.
“It’s really frustrating,” said Royals boss Kelly Chambers.
“But if you give Birmingham the lead, they’re a team that don’t let up and are a very hard team to score against.
“We had chances to come away with something. We scored plenty of goals last year and I think once we find one, we’ll find our feet and we’ll flourish from that.
“We’re not taking our chances.”
She added: “When you look at the players who are out – Jade Moore, Rachel Rowe, Molly Bartrip and Millie Farrow – they’re fantastic players to bring back into your squad and I want competition in this team.
“For those four to come back, and they are coming back in the next week or so, it’s going to be a massive importance to us.”
Reading sit fifth in the early table and go to Liverpool on Sunday (2pm).
READING: Moloney, Howard (Pacheco 58), Pearce (c), Potter, Harding, Allen, Furness, Bruton, F. Williams, Chaplen, Davison.
Subs not used: Laws, Jane, Woodham, Estcourt.
Yellow card: Allen (51)
BIRMINGHAM: Katrin-Berger, P. Williams, Harrop, Mannion, Sargeant, Ladd, Ewers, Staniforth, Arthur (Mayling 80), Wellings, Follis (Scott 86).
Subs not used: Hayles, Scofield.
Goal: Sargeant (7)
Yellow card: Williams (90+4)