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Reading FC Women 2 (Jane 44, Bruton 54) Chelsea 3 (Flaherty 42, Bright 65, Ji So-Yun 88)
Just as in last season's FAWSL Continental Tyres group match between the two clubs, Chelsea came from goal down to take all three points away to Reading after capitalising on a late defensive error.
This time Ji So-Yun was the beneficiary, slotting home after a poor back pass attempt had left her in the clear on 88 minutes. Reading had given a good account of themselves and had recovered from conceding the opener to a Gilly Flaherty header on 42 minutes to lead via strikes either side of the break from Becky Jane and Lauren Bruton. However, the introduction of So-Yun, Ana Borges and Katie Chapman from the bench gave the visitors a boost and eventually wore down their WSL 2 opponents.
Chelsea started with a brisk tempo and had Reading pinned back for the opening 20 minutes. Gemma Davison was the star performer, nearly scoring after a run through the home defence, then teeing up Marija Banusic for a close range effort brilliantly saved by Grace Moloney.
The Reading defence was at full stretch but survived the onslaught and gradually found some forward momentum without really troubling Marie Hourihan's goal.
Having defended so valiantly, Reading were caught by a simple set piece goal, Flaherty rising above the defence to nod home Davison's inviting right wing corner delivery from close range. However, Reading were level within a couple of minutes when a right wing cross was forced by Jane from close in to restore parity at the break.
The home side started the second half much more positively and lovely pass from Bonnie Horwood sent Bruton clear in front of goal to slot home confidently past Hourihan on 54 minutes.
Chelsea responded effectively with all three substitutes playing a major part. Moloney again made some fine saves from Borges, Millie Bright and So-Yun but was powerless to prevent the latter's free kick from reaching Bright for another close range headed goal.
A fine fingertip save at full stretch from a Davison effort kept Reading level as the match entered the final five minutes but their hopes were dashed when So-Yun was left clear and netted the winner despite Moloney getting a partial block on the shot.
On possession and chances, the WSL 1 leaders probably deserved the points, but Reading had given a very creditable display and had taken their chances very well to put themselves in the lead.
Reading FC Women: Grace Moloney, Rebecca Jane, Kirsty McGee, Kylie Davies, Harriet Scott, Lois Roche (sub Helen Ward 67mins), Emma Follis (sub Nikki Watts 81mins), Bonnie Horwood, Laura May Walkley (sub Charlie Estcourt 71mins), Rachel Rowe, Lauren Bruton. Subs not used: Chloe Samson, Nia Jones, Georgie Giddings, Rebekah Haines.
Chelsea: Marie Hourihan, Hannah Blundell, Laura Rafferty, Gilly Flaherty, Anne Meiwald (sub Ana Borges 50mins), Laura Coombs (sub Katie Chapman 63mins), Mille Bright, Drew Spence, Eniola Aluko, Gemma Davison, Marija Banusic (sub Ji So-Yun 58mins). Subs not used: Frances Kitching, Atlanta Primus, Millie Farrow, Niamh Fahey.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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