Reading FC Women were unable to spring an upset as Chelsea Women eased through in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup quarter-final tie at the Select Car Leasing Stadium to continue their inexorable march towards a third consecutive league and cup double.
Having been drawn against WSL opposition in the previous two rounds, the Royals were bang out of luck again as they pulled the impressive side assembled by Emma Hayes out of the hat. At least this time Reading had home advantage in their first quarter-final on home turf since that memorable extra time victory against Manchester United in 2019. The hosts started brightly enough in this tie but they had a let off just seven minutes in when Grace Moloney miskicked and the Royals goalkeeper had to backpedal desperately and probably would not have reached the chip from Niamh Charles which ultimately drifted wide of the far post.
Sanne Troelsgaard tested Zecira Musovic in the home goal but there were loud shouts for a Chelsea penalty twelve minutes in when Johanna Rytting Kaneryd and Charles linked up and the ball across the box evaded Guro Reiten who felt she had been impeded.
A ten minute period in the first half ultimately put the game out of Reading’s reach however as firstly Jess Carter finished right footed at the far post following a cross from the impressive Reiten and within five minutes the lead was doubled as Brooke Hendrix and Moloney got themselves in a tangle and conceded a penalty kick which was dispatched coolly by Maren Mjelde. An uphill task, but Reading through they had a swift response as Troelsgaard found the roof of the net to seemingly pull a goal back but referee Carl Brook consulted with his assistant and the strike was ruled out by a belated offside call.
How Reading needed that goal. Going into the break two down it was no surprise to see the WSL leaders start the second half on top and Reading captain Emma Mukandi had already cleared an opening for Kaneryd after a good ball by Alsu Abdullina before Kaneryd and Abdullina linked up again to lay the ball on a plate for Reiten, a goal delightful in its simplicity. Chelsea briefly threatened to run riot as Moloney had to be smart to dispossess Charles who was later denied again by the Republic of Ireland international.
But the Londonders seemed happy to settle for three and Reading had a clear chance gifted to them when Mjelde was caught in possession and Charlie Wellings – who had a fine game for Reading – really should have hit the target. There was a consolation with twenty minutes remaining as Wellings did well on the right to feed Troelsgaard who spun Lioness Mille Bright with ease before crashing the ball past Musovic. But the game was up and Reading must return to their bread and butter of ensuring WSL survival.