For the first time in their history, Reading FC Women will compete in the Semi-Final of the SSE Women’s FA Cup after defeating Manchester United 3-2 after extra-time.
The draw for the final four took place on Monday morning, and sees Reading play host to West Ham United – the winner of the tie will meet either Chelsea or Manchester City in the final at Wembley on Saturday 4th May.
With practically the final kick after 120 minutes of football, January arrival Rakel Hönnudóttir stabbed in what would prove to be the winning goal, halting the Red Devils’ five-game winning streak and putting the Royals into the hat to compete for a place in the final.
Extra-time itself proved to be something of a mini-game – the 90 minutes had ended goalless, but five goals followed in the additional 30. Reading twice went behind, and twice equalised, before notching that all-important winner in the final throes.
Rachel Furness went closest for the Royals in the first half of the game, but she had a shot from range saved by Siobhan Chamberlain before the United stopper tipped a header over the bar.
Brooke Chaplen could have broken the deadlock in the second period when Fara Williams’ smart free-kick found her in space, but defender Millie Turner recovered well to turn her shot behind. And then at the other end it was Reading defender Molly Bartrip who was on hand with some last-ditch defending to keep out Lauren James.
After coming under a bit of pressure, the Royals could have snatched the winner in the final few minutes when Remi Allen was released via a deflected Furness pass, only to shoot over the frame of goal.
End of 90 minutes: Reading FC Women 0-0 Manchester United Women
The first goal came midway through the first period of extra time, as Williams felled James in the area – allowing United captain Alex Greenwood to slot in coolly.
Reading reacted well though, and levelled the scores again within two minutes of falling behind. Furness hung up a deep cross which Allen met on the far side and directed back across goal and in.
The Royals had to show their mettle again in the second period; Jess Sigsworth's cross was diverted into her own net by Natasha Harding. But the reaction was even quicker this time; the same combo linked up, with Allen the provider this time as she nodded into the path of Furness, who converted from close-range.
Williams thought she had won it late on when her corner floated straight in, only for the referee to blow up for a foul on goalie Chamberlain. But in the final minute of added time, there was no infringement when Hönnudóttir scrambled in after Williams’ free-kick had been saved.
Adams Park erupted; incredible scenes as Reading FC Women went into the final four, where they will meet West Ham United at home. Chelsea travel to Manchester City on the other side of the draw.
After extra-time: Reading FC Women 3-2 Manchester United Women
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Pacheco, Potter, Bartrip, Harding, Furness, Allen, Moore, Williams, Bruton, Chaplen.
Unused subs: Pearce, Farrow, Honnudottir, Bailey, Estcourt, Howard, Laws.
Manchester United Women: Chamberlain, Harris, A.Turner, M.Turner, Galton, Zelem, Green, Greenwood, Toone (Smith 71), Sigsworth, Hanson (James HT).
Unused subs: Ramsey, Palmer, Devlin, Arnot.