ROYALS HOLD THEIR NERVE TO CLINCH CROWN
READING were crowned champions of WSL 2 on Sunday in what was a nervy final day for the Royals as they survived a late fightback to beat Aston Villa 3-2. Title rivals Doncaster dominated
Millwall 4-0 and had their hands on the title for just six minutes as they took the lead just before the break, with Sophie Barker mustering up an inch-perfect cross for Bethany England.
But with a seven-goal cushion over Doncaster at the top, Reading took the lead themselves before half-time and after 80 minutes looked to be cruising to the title.
Harriet Scott’s shot eluded Villa keeper Caitlin Leach before Emma Follis set up Helen Ward after the hour for the easiest of finishes. Follis was at it again in the later stages and when her shot fell to Bianca Bragg, she made no mistake in slotting home after 80 minutes.
Meanwhile, at Doncaster, Sue Smith continued her fine form and struck after 68 minutes. And she added to her tally just seven minutes later as she chipped goalkeeper Sarah Quantrill.
Donny’s goal flurry continued and Smith was again involved. Her cross at the far post was met by substitute Hope Knight who coolly slotted home, but it would still not be enough.
It looked like all was not decided after all as Villa inched towards the verge of an unlikely comeback at Sutton Coldfield, as two late goals in the last two minutes from the hosts sent Royal hearts fluttering.
Alicia Robinson headed home from a corner, before Tash Baptiste ensured a tense finish, but Reading held strong and clinched the title on goal difference.
Everton secured third place with a thrilling 5-3 victory over Oxford United.
It was goals galore at the Select Security Stadium as Lindsay Johnson made her last appearance for the Toffees after announcing her retirement.
Katherine Nutman set the tone for this tie as her powerful shot bobbled in to the net past Everton keeper Kirstie Levell after just four minutes.
But Simone Magill levelled the score after ten minutes as she turned in Dan Turner’s cross, and Chaney BoyeHlorkah turned the match on its head just a minute before the break.
Oxford hit back in the second half as Kayleigh Hines put away the leveller from a corner after 54 minutes.
And Kelly Jones then put the hosts back in front before Hines headed in another corner to level it at 3-3.
It was almost written in the stars that Johnson, who has been at the club for 12 years, would net the decisive goal. She latched on to a loose ball and made no mistake from 12 yards, before Jess King added a fifth in stoppage time.
Corinne Yorston netted a last minute penalty to give
Yeovil victory over Durham as they finished fourth in the WSL 2, while Watford ladies played out a goalless draw with London Bees in John Salomon’s last match in charge of the Hornets.
CHAMPIONS: Reading’s Helen Ward, centre, celebrates her goal during the final game of the season at Aston Villa