Reading have got off to the best possible start in this season’s FA Women’s Continental League Cup with a 4-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at The Hive.
Even so, it didn’t seem that the match was heading in the way it eventually did when Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney was forced into a great save with her feet within the first 30 seconds. Many of the home spectators hadn’t even made it to their seats but they must have been hopeful after seeing their side cut through Reading so early on. It wasn’t long after though until Reading had a chance of their own.
Brooke Chaplen was played through down the middle and her pace unlocked the Spurs backline but her effort was relatively comfortable as Becky Spencer palmed the ball away to her right.
After their early scare, Reading continued to come out fighting and an inventive short goal kick routine allowed Moloney to float a long ball out to Amalie Eikeland on the left wing. The Norwegian had the beating of Ashleigh Neville and her dinked cross just needed to be knodded into the gaping net but Chaplen contrived to loft it over.
Despite their attacking prowess Reading still looked vulnerable at the back and Moloney saved once again with her feet after a good advantage was played and the ball fell to Kit Graham. Some neat footwork afforded Graham the space to drill her right footed effort towards goal but the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper was at her best again. The most likely chances for Tottenham Hotspur came on the counter attack and Rosella Ayane found herself in acres of space but her powerful volleyed effort was always rising over.
Reading eventually took the lead through Chaplen who made up for her previous misses with the opening goal on 30 minutes. The veteran forward didn’t have any right to score from such a narrow angle but her drilled right footed shot completely bamboozled Spencer who, like every one else in the stadium, was expecting a cross. That being said, the goalkeeper will still be disappointed to be beaten so easily at her near post.
Spurs, pushed on by the home crowd, continued to create chances of their own and could’ve been level before the break after a couple of decent efforts from Gemma Davison and Ayane which certainly had Moloney worried.
The hosts will have been quietly optimistic going into the interval and a half-time team talk may have been just the encouragement they needed to kick on in the game.
The heavens and the floodgates opened. As the rain, which had held off thus far in the match, peppered the players on the pitch, the away side seemed revitalised compared to their sluggish opposition.
Fara Williams’ inswinging corner from the left caused chaos in the crowded penalty area and it was eventually turned inadvertently into her own net by Neville. The Tottenham Hotspur full-back had received universal praise for her performance last week against Liverpool, with some even tipping her for an eventual England call-up, but she could do nothing to prevent the ball rebounding off her and nestling in her goal to make it 3-0.
Then things went from bad to worse for the home side. Shortly after the third goal, some decisive play down the Reading left opened up the Spurs defence and a simple lay off followed by some neat footwork from Millie Farrow meant she had the goal at her mercy. She cooly picked her spot before tucking the ball away for Reading’s fourth.
Tottenham Hotspur did have the ball in the back of the net for what looked like a consolation from Ayane but it was rightly ruled out for offside.
The home side continued to struggle dealing with Williams’ corners and her delivery nearly lead to a fifth. A whipped in corner wasn’t properly dealt with by the panicky Spurs defense and the ball ran through to the back post but they were still unable to clear their lines. The subsequent second cross reached Williams again who cut back to Eikeland to drill a shot onto the top of the Tottenham Hotspur crossbar.
Reading continued to press and the scoreline could’ve been even worse for Hills’ side. Substitute Rakel Honnudottir drove down the right and cut back from the dead ball line, picking out Eikeland once again. She then produced a delightful right footed chip which left Spencer a mere spectator. The Spurs goalie heaved a sigh a relief as the ball once again rebounded off the woodwork and left Eikeland wondering how she hadn’t put her team five or six up.