Rachel Laws was the star on the night with a string of fine saves and one in the penalty shootout as Reading beat Chelsea 4-2 on penalties, having drawn 1-1 after normal time to progress into the knockout stages of the Conti Cup.
The Royals went into the game knowing that taking the game to penalties would be enough to progress into the knockout stages, provided that West Ham didn’t beat Crystal Palace by 9 goals.
It was the Royals who opened the scoring having survived early Chelsea pressure. Jo Potter struck a free-kick low into the bottom corner from just outside the penalty area on 15 minutes, following a foul on Brooke Chaplen.
The hosts were looking to respond instantly however as Beth England’s looping half-volley landed on the roof of the Reading net.
Laws managed to beat away another England effort as Chelsea continued to create chances.
Nevertheless, Kelly Chambers’ side still looked dangerous at the other end and Angharad James was unlucky to see her audacious strike rebound off the crossbar on 32 minutes.
Reading had to show real defensive resilience just before half-time as they managed to clear a goalmouth scramble after Laws denied Guro Reiten.
Half time: Chelsea Women 0 - 1 Reading FC Women
Early in the second half and Fara Williams almost got herself on the scoresheet as her free-kick deflected off the Chelsea wall, but Carly Telford showed brilliant reactions to tip the shot over her crossbar.
On the 57th minute Laws tipped over Deanna Cooper’s shot from an acute angle. The resulting corner found the head of Jess Carter but the Royals shot-stopper continued her fine work between the sticks by flicking it away from danger.
Chelsea did eventually level on the 66th minute when Cooper let fly from 30 yards and saw her effort swerve past Laws into the bottom corner.
At the other end, substitute Amalie Eikeland almost responded immediately for Reading, but her header from only yards out came back off the post.
Reading had the crossbar to thank on the 82nd minute as Sophie Ingle’s shot deflected onto the woodwork.
In the penalty shootout, Williams stepped up first for Reading, blasting the ball home to Telford's left. Cuthbert was first for the home side and she converted to bring the score level. Chaplen was next for the Royals and she kept a cool head, slotting past Telford to give Reading the lead. Mjelda scored to keep Chelsea hot on the visiting side's heels. Substitute Millie Farrow was next to score, making it 3-from-3. Beth Engaland stepped up for Chelsea, hitting the post for the first miss of the shootout. Remi Allen took her chance to give Reading the advantage with a cooly taken penalty. Rachel Laws then saved from Cooper to ensure Reading claimed to bonus point.
Full-time: Chelsea 1 - 1 Reading FC Women (Reading win 2 - 4 on penalties)
Chelsea: Telford, Cooper, Eriksson, Carter, Blundell (Anderson 71), Ingle, Ji (Mjelde 71), Reiten, Spence, Cuthbert, England
Subs not used: Katrin-Berger, Bachmann, Fleming, Wardlaw
Goals: Cooper (66)
Reading: Laws, Leine, Pacheco, Williams, James, Allen, Utland (Eikeland 45), Moore, Chaplen, Potter (Farrow 77), Howard
Subs not used: Moloney, Bennink, Reynolds, Quirk
Goals: Potter (15)