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Late heartbreak for Royals
 Women's Football News 3 May 2014
 
Late heartbreak for Royals - 3 May 2014 - Women's Football NewsReading Women 1 (Kirby 15) Chelsea 2 (Aluko 73, Bassett 84)
Chelsea took the points in their opening Continental Cup fixture away to Reading with a late Laura Bassett goal clinching a 2-1 win. 
 
The Blues had trailed for much of the game after a brilliant Francesca Kirby opener but dominated possession without creating many clear chances against a resolute Reading defensive showing. Eni Aluko cleverly notched an equaliser with just over twenty minutes left but Chelsea seemed to have been frustrated in their efforts to find a winner until a goalkeeping error presented the WSL 1 side with a winner.
 
Having conceded eight goals in their last two matches, Reading fielded a much changed back four against a star studded opposition attack and they held firm against early Chelsea pressure. Kirby was used as a lone striker and soon made an impression, worrying the defence from every early pass from the back.
 
Kirby opened the scoring with a lovely solo effort, skipping past two challenges before drilling the ball low wide of the diving Marie Hourihan. She was inches away from a second after again outwitting the Blues back four with her pace.
 
Chelsea piled on the pressure but were unable to find a way past the Reading defence. Set pieces provided their most potent threat, Katie Chapman heading a Yuki Ogimi corner just wide on 39 minutes and Ogimi herself going close from a Dani Buet cross. Otherwise Reading covered, blocked and tackled with real determination to preserve their advantage to the break.
 
The pattern continued unabated on the restart, Chelsea patiently moving the ball around seeking an opening against a compact block of defenders and Reading looking for Kirby with their clearances then seeking to support on the counter attack.
 
It took a quick break from a Reading attack to find the equaliser, Ogimi making ground on the left before sliding a low pass towards Aluko ten yards from goal. The England striker's backheeled finish was instant and precise on 73 minutes.

Reading continued to battle hard, restricting the Chelsea attack to half chances and long range efforts whilst Kirby remained a constant threat. Laura Coombs had the best effort well held by Nicky Davies on 83 minutes but the Welsh international made an uncharacteristic error on 86 minutes, dropping a cross for Laura Bassett to tap in the winning goal.
 
Chelsea never looked in any danger as they held on to the ball for long spells to see out the game and Davies made fine save from an Ogimi snap shot from 15 yards. On the balance of play Chelsea deserved to win but the manner and timing of the decisive goal was harsh on the home team, all of whom had played with great heart and spirit against the Blues' potent attack. 
 
Reading Women: Nicky Davies, Stacey Wiggins, Alex Keown, Molly Bartrip, Shelly Cox, Lauren Bruton, Cheryl Williams, Rebecca Jane, Georgie Giddings, Kirsty McGee, Francesca Kirby. Subs: Ciara Grant, Eartha Pond, Lois Roche, Leigh Nicol, Georgia Hayes, Melissa Fletcher, Becky Dandridge.

Chelsea: Marie Hourihan, Dani Buet, Emma Wilhelmsson, Gilly Flaherty, Yuki Ogimi, Ji So-Yun, Katie Chapman, Jodie Brett, Rosella Ayane, Anna Meiwald, Laura Bassett. Subs: Jackie Groenen, Laura Rafferty, Sara Moreira, Jenna Dear, Millie Farrow, Laura Coombs.

(Report by Patrick Higgins)

Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:

(top) Becky Jane battles with Yuki Ogimi
(middle) Laura Bassett gets some close attention from Lauren Bruton
(bottom) Lauren Bruton in a chase for the ball with Laura Coombs

 
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