Reading FC Women are back in action for a second consecutive Saturday as they host West Ham United Women at Madejski in the FA Barclays Women’s Super League.
Kelly Chambers’ Royals will be looking to boubce back from a disappointing 1-0 loss to league contenders Manchester City last Saturday at The Academy Stadium.
Reading looked to be on the way to their ninth draw of the season against Manchester City with a gutsy and strong defensive performance, until a flash of brilliance from City’s Lauren Hemp set up a tap-in for striker Chloe Kelly in the 87th minute to seal the win and send City top on Saturday evening.
The loss sees Reading unmoved in 7th place in the FA Barclays Women’s Super League table, a single point behind Brighton & Hove Albion in 6th.
Saturday’s match is particularly significant, as it will be the final time that Jess Fishlock will be in action for Reading. Fishlock signed a loan deal back in August from OL Reign and has been an integral part of Kelly Chambers’ team’s campaign this season.
A player who has a wealth of experience cultivated from a career playing all over the globe, Fishlock has been a regular in the side since making her debut against Arsenal in September. On field highlights have included being nominated for Player of the Month in December of last year and a brace against Brighton & Hove Albion that saw Reading take all three points in an emphatic away win.
Jess Fishlock: The Exit Interview, will be available to watch on the club channels before Jess’ final match for the Royals against West Ham.
Hammers’ form guide
The East Londoners will be looking for a positive result on Saturday as they currently sit bottom of the WSL with just two wins and three draws from their sixteen league outings to date. They are a single point behind Aston Villa and two behind Bristol City who are in 10th place but have played two games more than both sides. You must go back to mid-December for the Hammers last WSL victory – a comfortable 4-0 win at Bristol City. Since then, their seven league outings have produced just two points. These have come from home draws with Bristol City and Birmingham City.
They enjoyed a good run in the FA Continental Tyres League Cup topping their group (that included the Royals) and beating Durham at the quarter-final stage before losing heavily 6-0 at Chelsea in the semi-final. Of their 16 WSL goals scored to date, Australian midfielder Emily van Egmond and Rachel Daly have 3 apiece. With 3 League cup goals, van Egmond is the club’s overall leading scorer with 6.
The Hammers’ squad – an update
Since the Royals’ 1-0 win at Dagenham last October, the Hammers have a new manager at the helm. After one win in their first seven league games, Head Coach Matt Beard left in November by mutual consent. Replacing him was New Zealand-born Olli Harder who arrived in East London boasting an impressive CV refined at clubs around the world, with high-level coaching experience in the UK, China, USA, New Zealand and Norway.
A recruit to the playing squad is midfielder Dagný Brynjarsdóttir who has been capped 90 times by Iceland. She joined from Icelandic Super Cup winners Selfoss. Her move followed midfielder van Egmond agreeing to a permanent switch to the Irons from Orlando Pride. The club have also signed goalkeeper Emily Ramsey on loan from Manchester United after Mackenzie Arnold sustained an injury in training.
Several players have also left the club. England international Rachel Daly has returned to Houston Dash and Ruby Grant has moved to the University of North Carolina. Going out on loan have been midfielder Cho So-hyun to Tottenham and Swiss forward Alisha Lehmann to Everton.
Last season’s home fixture with the Hammers revisited.
When the Hammers arrived at Adams Park on the cold evening of Feb 12th, 2020, they were in 8th place in the WSL, five points behind the Royals but with a game in hand. Kelly Chambers’ side had won 3-2 at the Rush Green Stadium back in November and were looking to complete the league double over their East London rivals. Reading started with intent, and in the 15th minute Hammers’ keeper Anna Moorhouse denied Brooke Chaplen from point blank range. Eight minutes later though she was left helpless when Jade Moore put the hosts ahead. Fara Williams’ free kick was headed on by Amalie Eikeland and Moore nodded home into the corner. Remi Allen then hit the post as Reading threatened again but the score remained 1-0 at the interval.
The pattern continued in the second period with the Hammers rarely threatening the home goal, producing only one real effort in the whole 90 minutes. The inevitable second goal arrived in the 63rd minute. Chaplen sprinted away from Grace Fisk and kept her composure to slot past Moorhouse. Moore, Eikeland and Chaplen later all went close to increasing the lead but the final score remained at 2-0. It had been a good all-round team performance by the Royals against a West Ham side that produced little on the night. Sadly, the fixture proved to be Reading’s final WSL fixture of the campaign with the arrival of the pandemic causing a premature end to the season.
Reading FC Women v West Ham United Women | Saturday 3rd April | 2pm | Madejski Stadium | Watch live on the FA Player or listen on BBC Sounds