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Blackburn edge Cup thriller
 Women's Football News 2 Apr 2012
Blackburn edge Cup thriller - 2 Apr 2012 - Women's Football NewsReading FC Women 3 Blackburn Rovers 4
Blackburn Rovers claimed another National Division scalp with an exciting 4-3 win over Reading at Tadley in their delayed Premier League Cup tie. 
After three lengthy away trips in four weeks, Rovers have finally secured a home tie against Portsmouth next week in the Quarter Finals with a fine performance. But the home team deserve great credit for overcoming player absences, the unfortunate loss of inspirational skipper Kelly Chambers to injury and a two-goal interval deficit to very nearly force extra time with some thrilling attacking play and three excellent goals.

The tempo was set within the first two minutes with Rovers' Danielle Sheen and Royals' Fran Kirby going close from distance. Alice Palmer went close after beating Rovers' keeper Krystal Parker to a through ball but could not finish from a tight angle. The crucial moment of the match occurred on 25 minutes when Chambers, making a crucial last ditch clearance, damaged a knee and was stretchered off. Rovers took instant advantage from the corner after a lengthy delay, Keeleigh Savage rising high to direct home a powerful header.

Lois Roche was close to levelling after a defensive error but it was Sheen who doubled the advantage on 35 minutes with a clever lobbed finish. Reading finished the half very strongly with Kirby and Roche going close and Parker making a fine save at full stretch from a low shot.

The Reading onslaught continued after the break with Parker bringing off a high class save, adjusting her position to leap backwards and tip over a goalbound lob from Freya Combe. The Northern Ireland keeper was beaten three minutes later by a brilliant Roche volleyed finish from 15 yards and Royals launched a concerted assault for an equaliser, led by a great showing from Kirby down the left. Parker smothered a low cross shot at the second attempt to preserve the lead on the hour after the winger had outpaced the Rovers defence.

Blackburn still looked dangerous on the break as the match boiled up into a thrilling last twenty minutes. First Reading equalised when Kirby was quick to turn in a low cross at full stretch on the far post, then Rovers sub Lagan Makin rattled the angle of post and bar from 25 yards with her first touch after coming on.

Gail Pennington restored Blackburn's lead with a shot from wide out which somehow found its way into the net. Straight from the kick off Kirby scored a magnificent equaliser, turning to curl a perfect shot wide of Parker on 87 minutes. As extra time loomed it was Nichol Forster who settled the outcome in Rovers' favour with a lobbed finish from a bouncing through ball.

Typically, the Royals roared back yet again during several minutes of added time with Kirby and Roche going close from distance and then then Kim Turner proving to be a last gasp Rovers hero as she cleared a goalbound header from a corner off the line.

Both teams deserve credit for a hugely entertaining feast of attacking football with a number of young reserves in their squads. Reading await their fate in the National Division relegation struggle and have the Berks & Bucks Cup Final to defend in thrree weeks time. Blackburn are heading for a fixture pile up as their cup exploits delay a late promotion bid in the Northern Division.

Reading FC Women: Jenny Anslow, Stacey Wiggins, Megan Alexander, Charlotte Young, Chloe Tucker, Kelly Chambers, Jasmine Brewster, Freya Combe, Alice Palmer, Lois Roche, Fran Kirby. Subs: Beth Donovan, Emma Jones, Rebecca Haynes.

Blackburn Rovers: Krystal Parker, Gail Pennington, Kim Turner, Keeleigh Savage, Carmel Bennett, Hannah Forster, Dan Whitham, Katie Anderton, Danielle Sheen, Nichol Forster, Beth Donoghue. Subs: Gemma Jackson, Lagan Makin, Danielle Cox.

(Report by Patrick Higgins)

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