The women’s team have played four matches since our last round-up - two in the Women’s Super League and two in the Continental Cup - and emerged with mixed success.
Reading 3-2 Everton: The Royals came out on top in a thrilling encounter at Adams Park. There were four goals in the first 23 minutes as Kelly Chambers’s side twice led through two headers from Jade Moore, her first goals in almost a year. However on each occasion Everton drew back level, first from Chloe Kelly’s tap-in and then Lucy Graham’s penalty. In the end it was Reading substitute Lisa-Marie Utland who scored the winner in the 70th minute, heading home from a corner.
Reading 3-2 Lewes: Another victory by the same scoreline, but in slightly different fashion. Fara Williams put Reading in front early on in this Continental Cup meeting, but Lewes, a division lower, turned the game around and led at half-time thanks to a pair of long-range efforts from Emily Donovan and Ellie Noble. Williams levelled with a wonder strike of her own in the second half, and it looked as though Reading would have to settle for a point. But the hosts gave everything to try to get a winner, and were eventually rewarded in the 90th minute as Williams headed in to complete her hat-trick.
Manchester United 2-0 Reading: Reading dominated possession and had plenty of opportunities at Leigh Sports Village, but couldn’t make it count as they fell to a first defeat in four games. Kirsty Hanson’s close range volley gave United the lead in the first half and Jess Sigsworth wrapped the game up five minutes from time as she slotted home.
Reading 0-1 West Ham United: A first Conti Cup defeat of the season for the Royals, as they once again couldn’t convert any of their chances in front of the Madejski Stadium crowd. Alisha Lehmann’s goal was the decider as she tapped in from Leanne Kiernan’s square ball in the 75th minute. Reading came close to equalising on a few occasions and appealed for a penalty deep into stoppage time, but it wasn’t to be.
Star Player - Fara Williams
England’s all-time record appearance maker continues to perform at the top of her game at the age of 35. Williams was crucial in both of Reading’s wins in October with her hat-trick against Lewes following three assists in the victory over Everton.
It was Williams's exceptional set piece delivery that was on display against the Toffees, who she previously spent eight years playing for. First her free-kick set up Jade Moore’s first, before Moore and Lisa-Marie Utland got on the end of corners from the midfielder.
Meanwhile her hat-trick against Lewes showcased multiple elements of her game. She reacted to well to open the scoring after a Brooke Chaplen shot had been saved, thundered in a half-volley from 35 yards and popped up in the dying seconds with a header at the back post.
Williams is showing no signs of retiring yet, saying after the Lewes win: “If I’m enjoying it, I’ll go as long as I can. I love the game and if my body allows me to, then I’ll stay in it and if they keep offering me contracts then I’ll take them. Once my legs are gone and I’m not contributing the way I currently am, then I know it’ll be time to give up.”
There’s two games at the Madejski Stadium to look forward to in the next two weeks, beginning with the visit of Bristol City this Sunday. The Vixens currently sit third bottom of the WSL table with no wins to their name as of yet, so the Royals will certainly be targeting three points and a return to winning ways. The fixture is part of the inaugural FA Women’s Football Weekend, making it the perfect opportunity to try out a Reading Women’s game for the very first time.
The following Thursday, Championship side Crystal Palace make the trip to Berkshire in the Continental Cup. Tickets for both of these home games cost just £6 for adults, £3 for concessions and £12 for a family of four. In an incredible offer, if you’re a season ticket holder with the men, you can watch the women for free if you present your card on arrival.
Reading then end the month with a chance of revenge against West Ham, as they travel to Rush Green on the 24th.
Any other news
Congratulations to Grace Moloney, who reached 150 appearances for the club in October. The goalkeeper has been a Royal since the age of nine, rising through the ranks to establish herself as first choice between the sticks.
Moloney is one of a number of players who have been away on international duty this week, and was on the bench for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-1 draw away to Greece in Euro 2021 qualifying. Lisa-Marie Utland scored twice for Norway in their 6-0 demolition of Northern Ireland, with Amalie Eikeland coming off the bench and Kristine Leine an unused substitute. Wales’s Angharad James and Rachel Rowe also lined up against Northern Ireland, both playing the whole 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw. The Royals squad bragging rights will be on the line when Wales and Norway meet in the next international break in April.
Finally, Reading’s game against Arsenal at Adams Park on Sunday 8th December has been selected for TV coverage. You’ll be able to see how Kelly Chambers’s side get on against last season’s WSL winners by pressing the BBC red button from 2:30pm.