Reading FC Women down as Chelsea win FA WSL in Berkshire

Justine Vanhaevermaet. Photo: Neil Graham.
Justine Vanhaevermaet. Photo: Neil Graham.

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Berkshire’s only top-flight football team, Reading FC Women, were relegated from the FA WSL on Saturday afternoon as relentless Chelsea picked up their seventh consecutive victory to seal their fourth divisional title in a row.

Despite the difference of 44 points between the sides at kick-off, Reading gave as good as they got in the first half of the first half at the Select Car Leasing, albeit Chelsea showed the clinical edge which demonstrated the major difference between the sides.  Reading actually had a let-off when Football Writer’s Player of the Season Sam Kerr contrived to miss a sitter when steering a Perisset cross over from inside the six-yard box. 

Within minutes the Australian had her twenty-eighth goal of the season in all competitions as she headed home Reiten’s cross from the left at the near post.  Between times Erin Cuthbert had struck a cute effort against Grace Moloney’s crossbar but within three minutes of the opener Justine Van Haevermaet wasted a gilt-edged chance when nodding over from close range from Mukandi’s cross.  It should have been the equaliser.

Deanne Rose. Photo: Neil Graham.
Deanne Rose. Photo: Neil Graham.

Thereafter it was one-way traffic in that first half.  Reading’s best outlet – the returning Deanne Rose, making her first start since September – was forced to leave the game, presumably through injury.  Lauren James flashed a volley wide, Erin Cuthbert’s acrobatic effort drifted wide following a Chelsea corner that wasn’t cleared effectively and James saw a header pushed away by Moloney.  The second goal was coming and it was a horrible error from Esther Mayi Kith which cost Reading, her mis-control allowed in Guro Reiten who slotted under Moloney.

Reading made a spirited start to the second period, forcing a couple of corners and testing the alertness of Ann-Katrin Berger with Jade Moore’s effort.  Generally, Chelsea were happy to keep possession and hold Reading off at arm’s length and they rarely moved out of second gear as they held their lead with comfort.  They came closest when Kerr’s shot was blocked before Charles cross across the box was palmed away by Moloney with Chelsea players otherwise primed to tap the ball home.  With two minutes left Kerr followed up to clinch things after hitting a post with her initial effort.

Manager Kelly Chambers was given a guard of honour pre-match and presented with a bouquet of flowers by her opposite number and great friend Emma Hayes.  Whether that gesture was one of ‘goodbye’ after a long association with the club remains to be seen.

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