Reading FC Women will travel to Kingsmeadow on Sunday with more than their own fate in their hands, as they take on a Chelsea side that can win the WSL title with the right result against the Royals.
Chelsea FC Women v Reading FC Women | Sunday 9th May | 2.30pm | Madejski Stadium | LIVE only on BT Sport
Reading will be looking to continue the momentum of a 3-2 win against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend at Madejski Stadium; a victory that lifted the Royals above the Seagulls in the league table into 6th place.
Kelly Chambers and Hope Powell’s sides are on level points, with Reading boasting a much better goal difference. Brighton take on bottom of the league Bristol City on Sunday, in a must-win affair for the Robins.
At the other end of the table, Reading’s opponents on Sunday Chelsea sit in pole position in the league, just two points ahead of Manchester City in second, with a very similar goal difference. An away win for Reading would mean that a City victory away to West Ham would win them the league. Also, if Reading were to secure a draw at Kingsmeadow and City were able to win by four or more goals, that too would win City the championship.
With so many variables and outcomes impacting the title and relegation, the final day of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League season will be one not to miss.
Chelsea’s recent league form – at a glance
Chelsea’ comfortable 2-0 win at Tottenham on Wednesday evening restored Emma Hayes’ side to the top of the WSL table. The Londoners have won 17 of their 21 league fixtures this season. There has been just one defeat – a surprising 2-1 home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion. The three draws have all come away from home against top four sides; Manchester Utd, Arsenal and Manchester City. Their 64 WSL goals scored have come from 12 different players. Sam Kerr, captain of the Australian national side leads the way with 20, followed by England international and former Reading player Fran Kirby with 14, and then Danish international and former Wolfsburg player Pernille Harder who has 9. Just 10 WSL goals have been conceded, the best defensive record in the league.
Chelsea’s quest for the quadruple
Chelsea have already won one major cup competition this season by beating Bristol City 6-0 in the Continental League Cup Final. Turning to the FA Cup competition, a much-changed Chelsea side comfortably disposed of London City Lionesses 5-0 in the fourth-round and the club now have a home tie against Everton to look forward to.
In the Champions League, Emma Hayes’ team have been in formidable form and have the huge distinction of becoming the first English side since Arsenal in 2007 to reach a European final. After signalling their intentions with an 8-0 aggregate victory over Benfica, in the last-16, the Blues overcame Atletico Madrid 3-1 on aggregate. Both legs of their quarter-final tie with VfL Wolfsburg Ladies were played in Budapest, and Chelsea won both games with a 5-1 aggregate. In the semi-final Bayern Munich had a 2-1 advantage after the first leg, but Chelsea replied with a 4-1 success at Kingsmeadow last Sunday. Their reward is a trip to Gothenburg to take on Barcelona in the final on Sunday, May 16th. Fran Kirby has had a particularly successful European campaign with 6 goals so far.
Some previous visits to Kingsmeadow revisited
The Royals had success at this venue last season when after a 1-1 draw their nerves held out to win a penalty shoot-out 4-2. This ensured the team’s qualification for the group stages of the Continental Cup. Our best result at Kingsmeadow in WSL encounters came in 2017-18 season when Chelsea went on to win the title by a six-point margin. Earlier in the season the sides had drawn 2-2 at Adams Park, the Royals goals coming from Remi Allen and a stoppage time own goal from Magdalena Eriksson. That day Reading had become the first team to score against and take points off Chelsea in the WSL that season.
In the return at Kingsmeadow in late March the points were again shared. In a very open fixture, the Royals went ahead in the 25th minute. Jade Moore was upended in the box and Brooke Chaplen coolly sent Carly Telford the wrong way from the resulting penalty. Two minutes into the second period the Royals went 2-0 ahead when Fara Williams curled a shot past the diving Telford. Just four minutes later though it was game on when Jonna Anderson converted from close range. Desperate to preserve their unbeaten run in the league, Chelsea upped the tempo and their pressure paid off 13 minutes from time when Fran Kirby calmly put the ball past the diving Mary Earps to level it up at 2-2. The Reading keeper then produced a brilliant save to deny Drew Spence late on. The Royals held on to return home with a valuable point as they went on to finish in a commendable 4th place in the topflight.