Although they are 17 points behind Chelsea in the standing, Reading were one of two teams which managed to beat the Blues in the Women’s Super League this season. This well organized setup would show they are still in it for business by keeping it tight in defence despite the hosts’ best attempts at breaking them through at Kingsmeadow.
The 4-4-2 with Jess Carter and Magda Eriksson as fullbacks seemed like an odd choice at first, but our players would quickly prove us otherwise. There was good flow in attack from wide midfielders Guro Reiten and Jessie Fleming, trying to engage Beth England and Sam Kerr as much as possible.
Deanne Rose was Reading’s most dangerous player in our last match against the Royals, scoring the eventual winning goal for the visitors only four minutes into the game. Things have not changed ever since, as the Canadian international brought our defence’s focus onto herself whenever we did not have the ball.
Still we had the lion’s share of ball retention, and we were able to string passes in the final third that could lead to good opportunities at goal. But as expected, we would find a lot of Reading bodies ready to block our attempts, as they tried to hold onto a clean sheet as if their lives depended on it.
Reading’s problem was obvious: the more you entrench yourself in defence, the more space you leave for the opposition to build up attacking moves. With good enough quality, said opposition will score whenever your guard goes down by a second. That is exactly what Chelsea did via Jessie Fleming, scoring a few minutes before the end of the first half.
Chelsea wanted to avoid another upset to set us back in the title race, and the best way to do so is with goals. We pushed hard from the start of second half for a second score, with Beth England delivering the goods with a great volley seven minutes into the half.
Sam Kerr could not miss out on the goalscoring party against a former “nemesis”. With great help from Reading’s defence and Guro Reiten, she added a third for the Blues. A fourth would follow 11 minutes later, with Erin Cuthbert as the assistant this time around.
Never the side to get tired of scoring goals, Chelsea would find a fifth at the near end of the match. Beth England was fouled in the penalty box, and she took the spot kick to wrap it all up at 5-0 to the Blues.
- Zecira Musovic continues her run of starts at goal, and captain Magda Eriksson returns to the starting lineup as well. Sophie Ingle and Erin Cuthbert slot in central midfield, with Beth England and Sam Kerr running the attack in what seems to be a 4-4-2 to begin the match.
- Subs are Maren Mjelde for Aniek Nouwen, Niamh Charles for Jess Carter, Jonna Andersson for Guro Reiten, Alsu Abdulina for Jessie Fleming, and Drew Spence for Erin Cuthbert.
- Too much defending from Reading, and too little attacking as a result outside of Deanna Rose’s forays. As good as she is, one swallow doesn’t make a summer.
- What class and technique from Jessie Fleming. In the blink of an eye, she scores!
- In Fran Kirby’s absence, Guro Reiten is still picking up the slack. Her partnership with Sam Kerr in recent matches has been a revelation.
- Next up: Arsenal... in the FA Cup semifinal.