Fara fires Royals to two more big wins
Arsenal Women 1 Reading Women 2
FARA WILLIAMS scored a stunning goal from the halfway line as Reading continued their fine form with victory at Arsenal.
The Royals are now unbeaten in five matches, winning four, and preserved their perfect start to the Conti Cup campaign.
After a goalless first half, Williams broke the deadlock against her former club with a close-range finish, only for Beth Mead to quickly level.
However, Williams netted immediately from the restart, shooting from kick-off and brilliantly lobbing the ball over the head of goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse to seal a 2-1 win.
“That just shows the calibre of player she is,” manager Kelly Chambers (pictured) said when asked about Williams’ wonder goal.
“She’s been a great addition for us and that’s shown by how many goals she’s got so far.
“She looks like she’s got a new lease of life. She’s scoring goals, she’s confident and she’s enjoying her football so long may it continue.”
Chambers made four changes to the side which beat Watford in midweek with Becky Jane, Kirsty Pearce, Harriet Scott and Brooke Chaplen all earning recalls.
It was a lively start from both but Reading had the first opening when captain Pearce tried her luck following a corner.
Vivianne Miedema was played through one-on-one for Arsenal on the half hour mark, but Grace Moloney spread herself well to deny the Holland international, while Jo Potter’s free-kick just cleared the crossbar. The hosts began the second half well with Jodie Taylor going close, but Reading moved ahead when Williams poked in a Lauren Bruton cross from the left.
Substitute Mead equalised, stroking the ball past Moloney, but the moment of the match was about to arrive as Williams lined up an effort straight from the kick-off to stun the Gunners.
Moloney was called into action to thwart Danielle Carter late on, but Reading held on.
“It’s a fantastic win,” said Chambers.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game but it was important for us to show how far we’ve come and that we can compete with the likes of Arsenal.
“I’m really happy for the girls.
“Any manager knows that once you’ve got momentum it’s very hard to break and we’ve got great momentum and great confidence at the minute and we’re taking that into every game.
“We were able to mix it with the nice and the ugly and it’s got us a result.”
Reading host WSL 1 leaders Chelsea on Sunday (12.35pm) in the league.
READING: Moloney, Jane, Pearce (c), Potter, H. Scott, Williams, Allen, Bartrip (Linnett 72), Chaplen (Rowe 77), Bruton (Green
Subs not used: Earps, van den Berg, Clifford.
Goals: Williams x2 (54,62)
Yellow cards: Bruton (29), Allen (33)
ARSENAL: Moorhouse, Rose, Quinn (Carter 62), Williamson (Janssen 38), Mitchell, van de Donk, Nobbs, O’Reilly, James, Miedema, Taylor (Mead 57).
Subs not used: van Veenendaal, A. Scott, Evans, Hinds.
Goal: Mead (61)
Yellow card: Quinn (49)
Referee: Matt Buonassisi
Reading Women 4 Watford Ladies 0
KELLY CHAMBERS says she expected more from her side, despite a dominant 4-0 victory over Watford which ended Reading’s 20-month winless home run.
Royals had won just once since permanently moving to Adams Park, in their first game there way back in March 2016 against Millwall Lionesses.
But they finally ended the unwanted streak thanks to goals from Fara Williams, Molly Bartrip and Kirsty Linnett, as well as a Merrick Will own goal, to make a perfect start to their Continental Cup campaign.
Yet Chambers, whose side are unbeaten since the opening day of the season, wanted to see a better display.
“It’s another four goals and another clean sheet for us with a number of changes to the starting 11,” said the manager.
“So on that side of it really pleased, but performance wise I expected better.
“I thought we took our foot off the pedal after the first goal. I think we should’ve kept the pressure on and maybe got a couple more.
“But I know what it’s like when you make a number of changes to a team and you play against a team that’s in the league below.
“We’re building and you can see that in our performances and our results.”
Chambers did make some changes from the weekend 5-0 league win over Bristol City with Mandy van den Berg, Anna Green, Rachel Furness and Linnett all earning recalls, as well as a rare start for goalkeeper Grace Moloney.
But she would have little to do for the entirety of the contest.
Reading took an early lead with less than five minutes on the clock as Williams guided the ball into the bottom corner from close range.
But any hopes that the hosts would run riot were quickly quelled as Watford dug in and made Reading work.
The game was being played almost entirely in the Watford half with Rachel Rowe seeing a shot blocked while Williams was denied by goalkeeper Fran Kitching and Kirsty Linnett blazed wide when she should have done better.
The visitors did make one dangerous break forwards through Rinsola Babajide, but van den Berg recovered well to make a strong challenge.
And the lead was doubled on the stroke of half-time when a deep cross to the back post was met by the unmarked Bartrip to head home.
Chambers made two switches at the break, bringing on Becky Jane and Brooke Chaplen for Rowe and Allen and again Reading began the half brightly.
A short corner from Jo Potter was fired over from 20 yards by Williams before a golden chance was wasted as substitute Chaplen somehow scooped over from close range with an open goal at her mercy.
And the Royals continued to turn the screw as Watford tired with Linnett having a goal ruled out and being denied by a fine Kitching stop before finally netting her first Reading goal with a well-placed effort.
Reading were not done there, almost adding a fourth when Furness’s header hit the crossbar.
The visitors nearly grabbed a consolation when Babajide curled towards the bottom corner, but the ball crept just wide of the post.
But it was Reading who got a fourth when a low cross from Green was turned into her own net by Will in stoppage time.
“I think it was important for Kirsty (Linnett) to get off the mark,” said Chambers.
“We know that she’s a natural goalscorer. We knew that she had to get that one and get off the mark and she’s done that.
“Hopefully now we’ll see her flourish.”
READING: Moloney; Rowe (Jane 45), Potter (c), van den Berg, Green; Bartrip, Allen (Chaplen 45), Furness; Bruton, Williams, Linnett.
Subs not used: Earps, Scott, Pearce, Clifford. Goals: Williams (5), Bartrip (45), Linnett (68), Will (OG) (90+1)
WATFORD: Kitching; Cudone (Ward 66), Nuttall (c), McCarthy, Jones, McKeag; Maple (Fatuga-Dada 66), Will, Puddefoot; Murray (Petkova 79), Babajide.
Subs not used: Baranowska, Kerr, Bell.
Yellow card: Murray (70)
Referee: Sian Massey-Ellis
Jo Potter leads the Royals out at Adams Park
Fara Williams opens the scoring
Jo Potter leads the Royals out at Adams Park