A buoyant Reading FC Women kicked off 2020 with a trip to Kingsmeadow Stadium to face Chelsea Women in the Barclays FA Women Super League on Sunday.
Molly Bartrip and club captain Natasha Harding returned to the bench for the Royals and the newly signed Australia striker Samantha Kerr took to the field for her Chelsea debut.
Samantha, the leading scorer in both the US and Australian leagues the last three seasons almost had a fairy tale start as she sprinted past Reading’s Jo Potter to leave her one on one with keeper Grace Moloney, only to blaze her shot over the bar.
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With Reading settling down, they started to create chances, firstly a Brooke Chaplen effort was stopped by Chelsea’s Ann-Katrin Berger, then the opening goal by Fara Williams on 15 minutes, chested down by Chaplen from a Rachel Rowe long ball into the path of Williams, who powered it home from 20 yards.
Soon after Moloney collided with Kerr outside the area and Reading’s keeper was shown a straight red card while Kerr received treatment.
Chaplen was subbed to make way for Rachel Laws, Reading’s number 2 keeper. From the resulting free kick Laws was called in action as she made a double save from Beth England and then Kerr.
With Reading down to 10, it wasn’t long before Chelsea levelled from a Kerr delightful back heel to England who slotted it home.
The second half got underway with a goal month melee, where Reading keeper Laws and defender Sophie Howard made goal line clearances to deny the Blues the lead.
After receiving treatment, Laws was called into action again, one on one with Kerr which Laws saved, only for the second ball to fall to Guro Reiten who smashed it home, 2-1 Chelsea.
With 11 woman Chelsea taking control Reading found it hard to move out of their half and the pressure paid off as the Blues Erin Cuthbert tapped in from close range.
The third goal sealed all three points for Chelsea and ended a frustrating afternoon for the Royals
Full time: Chelsea FCW 3-1 Reading FCW
Next up for Reading, they face Birmingham City at Adams Park on Sunday 12th January, 2pm KO. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.
Chelsea: Berger, Bright, Ingle (Cuthbert 63), England, So-Yun, Reiten, Eriksson, Mjelde, Kerr (Blundell 77), Spence, Andresson. Unused subs: Orman, Carter, Cooper, Cuthbert, Napier, Murphy.
Goals: England (40), Reiten (65), Cuthbert (75).
Reading: Moloney, Pacheco, Williams (Harding 70), James (Farrow 82), Allen, Eikeland, Moore, Chaplen (Laws 18), Potter, Rowe, Howard. Unused subs: Bartrip, Utland, Bennink, Skeels.
Goal: Williams (15).