Reading’s harrowing defeat on Saturday afternoon means their relegation fate may be decided as early as 5pm on Sunday - if Leicester beat West Ham.
In a WSL experiment (that didn’t appear to work from the number of fans attending), the Royals travelled to the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium a day earlier than originally published, with kick-off at an unusual time of 4.15pm in a ‘double header’ that saw Spurs’ men team lose to Brentford earlier in the lunchtime kick-off - which might have contributed to the apathy to stay on for the second match.
If Royals fans turned up expecting to see anything impressive from this match, it predictably only came in the form of the shiny new stadium - which was indeed very impressive. Reading have now gone the whole season without picking up a single point away from home, so this result and performance won’t have surprised anyone.
Whether it’s due to injuries, poor individual performances on the pitch or personality clashes away from it, Kelly Chambers - with the exception of her choice of Amalie Eikeland - hasn’t settled upon a consistent starting XI, preferred formation or even favourite regular positions. Being kind you could excuse some of this as desperation, but it’s often seen as baffling, overly complicated and illogical.
As if to underline this, Saturday afternoon’s defensive lottery included the surprise choice of Easther Mayi Kith at right back (who failed to control Rosella Ayanne on the Spurs left) - with out-of-favour Faye Bryson again finding herself only used as a late substitute.
Chambers wasn’t helped either with Rachel Rowe and Lily Woodham missing from the squad, choosing to start with Sanne Troelsgaard and Charlie Wellings leading the attack while Tia Primmer and Lauren Wade were in support.
Team: Moloney, Mayi Kith (Bryson, 69), Cooper (Hendrix, 78), Evans, Mukandi, Eikeland, Vanhaevermaet, Wade (Moore, 45), Troelsgaard (Harries, 45), Primmer (Rose, 60), Wellings
Subs not used: Poulter (GK), Caldwell, Perry, Alexander
Although Reading enjoyed some early pressure in the form of four first-half corners, they didn’t really look like scoring and the match was all but over by half-time - with the home side taking a comfortable 2-0 lead into the break.
Reading were caught napping from a Spurs training-ground move just before the half-hour mark when a corner was played short to ex-Reading defender Molly Bartrip, who curled a cross deep to the back post, where an unmarked Bethany England headed past Grace Moloney in the Reading goal. 1-0.
The home side doubled their lead just a few minutes before the break with a simple passing move, straight through the spine of the Reading team - finding Celin Bizet Ildhusoy in space within the Reading penalty to slot past the Royals’ keeper. 2-0.
Chambers made two changes at the break with Jade Moore and Emma Harries replacing Sanne Troelsgaard (a player who often looks the most likely to score) and Lauren Wade. She eventually used her full allocation of five substitutes throughout the second half.
With Tottenham in control, Reading looked deflated and defeated and the two goals conceded in the second half only reflected this. Moloney found herself stranded after a poor back pass and England made no mistake for her second of the match, passing the ball into an empty Reading net. 3-0.
The fourth was a long ball over the top of the Reading central defenders. Spurs substitute Kit Graham was given plenty of space and time to control the ball and strike the ball easily past Moloney on 75 minutes. 4-0.
A late consolation goal came just four minutes later - a nice Justine Vanhaevermaet header from a Reading corner. It didn’t change the mood; the match just drifted to a conclusion and the impending reality of both Reading senior teams being relegated in the same season. Grim times and a loud message to the owners, if they choose to listen.
And if the owners are taking note on how other clubs do things, Spurs finished the match with their awards ceremony (goal and player of the season) pitchside and in front of the supporters.
There’s still one match to go, next weekend, again on a Saturday, 2.30pm kick-off against likely WSL champions Chelsea (and let’s hope they have already won the league by then!) See you there…