In the most dramatic of matches, Reading FC Women booked a place in the semi-final of this season’s Continental Cup on Saturday by overcoming Everton on penalties – and Arsenal, Chelsea or Man City await in the final four!
A game that ended goalless in normal time ended up going the distance – Kirsty Linnett’s 30-yard stunner in extra-time looked like it might be enough to avoid the lottery of spot-kicks, but Chloe Kelly snatched a late leveller.
And it was Linnett that struck the winning kick in the shoot-out, after Grace Moloney kept out two of the Toffees’ strikes!
Reading started the game positively, and Brooke Chaplen’s quick feet nearly helped make the breakthrough, as her run into the penalty area lead to a Fara Williams effort on goal. Earlier good work by Kelly saw her crossing for striker Courtney Sweetman-Kirk who failed to convert.
Reading began to create the better chances; firstly it looked like Remi Allen had bundled the ball over the line, then Jo Potter went close. As the temperatures plummeted the match continued into extra-time and a moment of individual brilliance.
Nothing looked on when Reading second-half substitute Linnett picked the ball up 30 yards out… she took the ball on and unleashed a thunderbolt from range into the roof of the net. A goal worthy of winning any game.
But minutes later Kelly passed into an empty net after Gabrielle George squared, ensuring that Everton would have a chance to progress via penalties.
In the shoot-out Kelly and Danielle Turner’s penalties were brilliantly saved by Grace Moloney, before it was left to Linnett to put the tie to bed.
Speaking post-match, Reading manager Kelly Chambers said: “I’m just glad we’ve managed to grind out a result even if it’s through penalties; it just shows the character we have in our team and making sure we’re in a semi-final and can compete there.
“Both goalkeepers are fantastic and both have huge strengths, and Grace has shown that the whole way through the Conti Cup, she’s grown in character, grown in confidence and you can see that in her performance today, especially in the penalty shoot-out she was fantastic.
“The beauty of the cup is that you don’t know who’s going to win, but I’m not afraid to come up against anyone and we’ll embrace any challenge that’s thrown against at us in the semi-final”.
Everton Ladies 1-1 Reading FC Women (AET – Reading FC Women win 4-3 on penalties)
Everton Ladies: Levell, Boye-Hlorkah, Worm, Brougham, George, James, Brett, Turner, Magill (Green 102), Kelly, Sweetnam-Kirk.
Unused subs: Durack, Munsterman, Doyle, Chance, Bryson, Hughes.
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Jane, Scott (Green 76), Pearce (Fletcher 119), Potter (Van den Berg 90), Furness, Williams (Linnett 72), Rowe, Allen, Bruton, Chaplen.
Unused subs: Earps, Clifford.