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Reading FC Women 3 Manchester Utd 2 (aet)
An SSE Women's FA Cup quarter final of ever increasing drama saw Reading defeat Manchester United 3-2 after extra time to take a place in the last four for the first time.
A cagey first half was followed by a lively and competitive second period but the match really burst into life with five goals in extra time. United led twice but were immediately pegged back both times before sub Rakel Honnudottir grabbed the winner in the 120th minute.
The opening 45 minutes provided little to excite the crowd of 951 at Adams Park. Defences dominated and only a 25th minute Siobhan Chamberlain save from a Rachel Furness header, then a 37th minute headed chance for United's Millie Turner from a corner had stirred the pulses as the wind, rain and then hail made accurate passing tricky.
The introduction of Lauren James by United at half time made a big difference to their attacking potential but Reading started the better in improved weather conditions, a Jade Moore header rebounding off the bar and Chamberlain saving well at her near post from Brooke Chaplen on 50 minutes.
James broke clear on United's right, her cross just evading Leah Galton in front of goal. Galton then forced a fine save from Grace Moloney as United dominated around the hour mark.
Allen missed a great chance for Reading on 84 minutes as it looked as if one goal might settle the match. Both sides had late free kick efforts well saved, Alex Greenwood for United and Fara Williams for Reading so the tie went into extra time.
James won a penalty for United on 97 minutes with a driving run halted by a foul, Greenwood converting. Reading levelled within two minutes through Remi Allen, whose looping far post header back across goal evaded all attempts to clear.
A Jess Sigsworth cross from United's left was headed in by the covering Reading defender Natasha Harding to restore the visitors' lead early in the second period of extra time, but the home side levelled within a minute when Williams' left wing cross was met first by Allen then fired home by Furness.
United went very close to regaining the lead late on, the ball fizzing through the area without a final touch being applied. However, it was the hosts who clinched the win in the final minute. Williams, who had seen an earlier goal direct from a corner ruled out, fired in an awkward free kick from 20 yards which Chamberlain could not gather as it bounced just in front of her. Icelandic international Honnudottir was on hand to fire home the loose ball from close in.
Defeat was probably a bit harsh on United who had matched their higher league opponents for the first 90 minutes and twice led in extra time but Reading showed their fighting spirit by battling to the very end.
Reading FC Women:
Grace Moloney, Maz Pacheco, Natasha Harding, Jade Moore, Molly Bartrip, Jo Potter, Remi Allen, Rachel Furness, Brooke Chaplen, Fara Williams, Lauren Bruton. Subs: Rakel Honnudottir, Jade Bailey, Rachael Laws, Kirsty Pearce, Millie Farrow, Charlie Estcourt, Sophie Howard.
Siobhan Chamberlain, Alex Greenwood, Millie Turner, Amy Turner, Martha Harris, Ella Toone, Katie Zelem, Mollie Green, Leah Galton, Jess Sigsworth, Kirsty Hanson. Subs: Lauren James, Kirsty Smith, Emily Ramsey, Aimee Palmer, Charlie Devlin, Lizzie Arnot.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Martha Harris clears away from Maz Pacheco
(middle) Leah Galton gets in a cross past Molly Bartrip
(bottom) Remi Allen crunches into a tackle on Mollie Green
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