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(West Ham won 4-3 on penalties)>
Reading FC Women 1 West Ham Utd 1
(West Ham won 4-3 on penalties)
West Ham United will make their first appearance in the SSE Women's FA Cup Final after edging out Reading FC Women in a dramatic penalty shootout after a 1-1 semi final stalemate at Adams Park.
The Hammers rode their luck at times and were forced into desperate defence on occasion but battled hard to reach the spot kick decider. Both Grace Moloney and Anna Moorhouse made saves in the shootout but two misses from Reading to one from West Ham condemned the Royals to semi final heartbreak.
A tight first half of defensive domination and few chances, with Fara Williams going closest with a free kick which clipped the bar, was the prelude to a dramatic second period.
Reading took the lead on 48 minutes with a superbly worked goal, Jo Potter's flighted free kick from midfield releasing Jade Moore on the right for a first time cross which was met with a towering Rachel Furness header.
West Ham equalised eight minutes later through Alisha Lehmann, who guided a loose ball wide of Moloney from 15 yards with a clever outside of the foot finish.
Reading dominated the rest of normal time. Potter was denied a penalty claim and received a yellow card then Williams missed two big chances to regain the lead for the hosts. She hit a penalty, awarded when Gilly Flaherty was penalised for handball on 68 minutes, against the upright and then fired wide when a defensive error left her clear on goal in the fourth minute of injury time.
There were also several scrambles in the West Ham area with Kate Longhurst making a crucial tackle to deny Lauren Bruton a tap in.
Extra time was a more even battle of attrition as injury forced Potter off and Williams was withdrawn. Moorhouse was still the busier keeper, twice punching crosses away under severe pressure but generally the Hammers defended well and occasionally threatened on the break.
The penalty shootout was a tense affair with so much at stake and eventually, after Moorhouse had saved Moore's kick, it was the sixth West Ham spot kick by Cho So-Hyun which sealed the outcome by four successful conversions to three. West Ham will take on Manchester City in the Wembley showpiece on May 4th.
Reading FC Women:
Grace Moloney, Natasha Harding, Molly Bartrip, Jo Potter (sub Sophie Howard 114mins), Maz Pacheco, Jade Moore, Jade Bailey (sub Rakel Honnudottir 67mins), Remi Allen, Fara Williams (sub Gemma Davison 101mins), Lauren Bruton, Rachel Furness. Subs not used: Rachael Laws, Rebecca Jane, Kirsty Pearce, Charlie Estcourt.
West Ham Utd:
Anna Moorhouse, Erin Simon (sub Vyan Sampson 113mins), Gilly Flaherty, Brooke Hendrix, Claire Rafferty, Lucienne Reichardt (sub Brianna Visalli 52mins), Cho So-Hyun, Kate Longhurst, Alisha Lehmann (sub Rosie Kmita 118mins), Jane Ross, Leanne Kiernan (sub Adriana Leon 57mins). Sub not used: Becky Spencer.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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