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Tottenham Hotspur Women 0-0 Reading Women (4-5 Pens): Match Report

No goals in normal time, but a perfect set of spot-kicks put the Royals past Spurs in the cup.

Tottenham Hotspur Women v Reading Women: Vitality Women’s FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

In a fashion similar to the last round, Reading progressed through to the quarter-finals of the Vitality FA Cup courtesy of penalties - winning 5-4 and not missing a spot kick.

The penalty excitement was a welcome relief to what turned out to be 120 minutes of poor-quality football from both teams. It was not only 120 minutes of my life that I’m not going to get back, but also a match that delivered goals in neither normal play nor extra time and didn’t, in all honesty, ever look like it may happen.

That was probably not a surprise when looking at the recent WSL form of both teams, each with one win in eight (Reading’s last win ironically against Spurs in early December). But it was also a bitterly cold day to be sitting and watching dour football.

Reading lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rachel Rowe surprisingly leading the forward line up top. There was a starting debut for Easther Mayi Kith in a centre-back partnership with Gemma Evans, as part of a Kelly Chambers squad that included all 10 players that were involved in international duty over the last week. And I’m guessing that it would have been a pleasant surprise to see Beth England absent from the Spurs squad.

Team: Moloney, Mukandi, Evans (Caldwell), Wellings (Alexander), Eikeland, Harries (Wade), Mayi Kith, Moore (Troelsgaard), Rowe, Vanhaevermaet, Woodham (Bryson)

Subs: Burns, Bryson, Wade, Hendrix, Caldwell, Alexander, Troelsgaard

It was my first visit to Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road ground and interesting to see that all four corners of the ground have been sold with apartment blocks pretty much built on every corner flag. I’m not sure if it was a portent I could have picked up on earlier, but even the residents of all four corners, with a clear view of the pitch, didn’t make the effort to sit on the balcony or watch from the warmth of their living rooms. They clearly must have known what was to come.

Tottenham Hotspur Women v Reading Women: Vitality Women’s FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

There were good chances for each team throughout the match with both the home and away sides lacking the quality to take the opportunities they either created or were given.

Ashleigh Neville, often a threat in the Spurs team and WSL in general, probably summed up the tone of the afternoon with a couple of early first-half efforts. Her first attempted air shot saw the ball rebound off her standing leg and, with another good opportunity, she dragged her shot wide of the Reading goal.

Jade Moore probably had the best effort of the first half for the Royals, with a clever bit of thinking nearly catching the Tottenham goalkeeper out via her near-post effort.

Although Kelly Chambers made three substitutions during the second half (Wade, Troelsgaard and Bryson), the match-error rate unfortunately didn’t change and both teams were guilty of losing possession and wasting opportunities. Charlie Wellings was unable to finish from a Lily Woodham free-kick and Spurs often opened up the Reading defence but failed to find a white shirt on the end of a cross or pass.

0-0 meant extra time, which neither team or set of fans wanted, and it was more of the same. In time added onto the first half of extra time, both teams should have scored. Lauren Wade forced a save from the Spurs goalkeeper and a second tame effort from substitute Kit Graham missed the target from what looked like a certain goal. Gemma Evans, struggling with an ankle injury, was replaced by Diane Caldwell.

The closing 15 minutes saw another sub for the Royals with Tinaya Alexander coming on for Charlie Wellings. Tottenham’s Drew Spence blazed an effort over the bar from pretty much the penalty spot and, in the last minute of extra time, Spurs missed what looked like a cruel blow with Celin Bizet Ildhusoy’s effort blocked by Easther Mayi Kith.

In the last round Grace Moloney was the penalty hero. Today it was the miss by Kerys Harrop that separated the two teams - and, to be fair, a 100% spot-kick record from Vanhaevermaet, Mukandi, Eikeland Troelsgaard and Wade. Kelly Chambers doesn’t watch penalties, which is a shame (for her) as this was the best part of the match.

Next week the Royals are back in WSL action at the SCL stadium, versus West Ham, 2pm kick off - see you there!