The fixtures are coming thick and fast in the FA WSL1 Spring Series. Compared to last season when each match seemed to have its own pre-season given the amount of time between games, this time around there’s barely time to make it home from one game before the next one kicks off!
Not that this is a bad thing of course, but the differences between last year and this year are monumental. Leading up to a game last year Reading Women fans would be pondering whether we could keep it tight enough at the back to secure a hard-fought point and with the assumption that we would field 10 defensive players and score a breakaway goal if we were lucky.
This year, in the space of the past 2 weeks we have already scored 6 goals, compared to last season where we scored just 6 goals in all of our home WSL1 games combined! We’ve also won a game, which matches our entire haul from last season. Also in that 2 week period we have signed 2 full and current England internationals and an England U23 international.
So, as you can see, it’s very different this season so far and a lot of the excitement is back that was missing last year. And given we’ve only got 3 home games in the whole of the Spring Series, Wednesday night’s game against Chelsea is one that is well worth visiting Adam’s Park for. If you do make the trip to Wycombe, what can you expect from the game? Let’s have a gander:
More New Faces
We’ve already seen virtually all of our pre-season signings being used in both games so far this season, with Anna Green, Rachel Furness and Brooke Chaplen starting both games and Anissa Lahmari coming on from the bench. Mandy Van Den Berg has been the only notable absence so far, but hopefully we will see her back in contention soon. In the last few days we’ve seen the arrival of Jo Potter, Jade Moore and Kirsty Linnett, all formerly of Notts County, and the assumption would be that we would see at least a couple of those make their debuts against Chelsea. Quite who they will come in for is another matter entirely…
Goals – Again!
Last season Chelsea scored 3 goals in each of their 2 WSL1 matches against Reading. Despite that the Royals were actually pretty unlucky in both games and could on another day have picked something up from at least one of the two encounters. Chelsea notched 6 in their opening game of the Spring Series against Yeovil, so they are flying already, even without Fran Kirby who missed the match through her continuing recovery from injury.
This year, Reading have approached their opening 2 fixtures with a more attacking setup, so with two attack-minded teams going head-to-head there is likely to be a few goals flying in. The concern for Reading will be the Chelsea wingers, including the superb Gemma Davison who will run at, around and through defenders for fun if she is given the chance.
Width vs Central
Chelsea are pretty classy down the wings and have tended to have a lot of success down the flanks on post encounters with Reading. Reading this season have had lots of success through the middle and our back 3 have generally stayed pretty central rather than being drawn out wide. Tash Harding was key for Liverpool last week when she took up positions between our back 3 and wing backs and it took a while for Reading to combat that threat, so against Chelsea they will know what to expect and will hopefully be able to deal with it from the start.
The Royals’ have become even stronger down the middle of the pitch with their 3 new signings this week, so are unlikely to steer too far away from their compact style for the Chelsea game. We’ve looked great going forwards so far this season, so will give the Chelsea centre backs and central midfielders a good run for their money. Should be a really fascinating encounter!
So there you have it – everything points to a great game, with lots of goals, more cracking new signings on display and a continued evolution of Reading’s style of play from keeping it very tight and counter-attacking last season to something a whole lot more exciting this season! If you can make it down to Adam’s Park you won’t be disappointed – even if the game doesn’t live up to the hype there will be drumming and singing and a chance to chat to the players afterwards so it will be well worth the trip for the slightly random 7.35pm kick off.
See you there…