Reading FC Women were on the wrong side of a 6-1 score-line at Meadow Park against a very organised Arsenal side in the opening fixture of the 2020-21 FA Women’s Super League season. Goals from Kim Little, Vivianne Miedema and Jill Roord in the first half, and Miedema and Roord again in the second saw Reading debutant Danielle Carter’s consolation goal against her former club in the dying minutes too-little-too-late for the travelling Royals.
Early link-up play between debutants Jess Fishlock and Danielle Carter constantly threatened to open up the home side at the back, Carter’s first touch of the ball as a Royal was a thunderous shot that was blocked by the Arsenal defence.
However, it was Arsenal that struck first, when Little received the ball on the left of the Reading box and put a neat volley away into the Reading net on the 15 minute mark.
Reading pushed hard after conceding and both Fishlock and Molly Bartrip were inches away from getting onto the end of through-balls that would have left them in behind Manuela Zinsberger, but the Arsenal keeper managed to get there first.
Arsenal doubled their lead when Miedema found herself on the end of an Arsenal break from the right and slotted the ball home, past Moloney.
Reading went on the offensive again and Emma Mitchell provided a great cross from the left for Amalie Eikeland, who was mobbed by red shirts. Arsenal instantly broke from the left as Royals Captain Natasha Harding felt she was brought down unfairly, and Arsenal’s break resulted in Jill Roord finding herself in space and getting a shot away, which gave the home side a 3-0 advantage.
Reading saw out the final minutes of the first half in control, pressing on the Arsenal box, but unable to find the final finish.
Half Time Score: Arsenal Women FC 3 – 0 Reading FC Women
Kelly Chambers made two changes at half time; Kristine Leine and Fara Williams making way for Rachel Rowe and a returning Lauren Bruton, respectively.
Reading came out of the blocks quickly in the second half, forcing an early corner, before Mitchell, Rowe and Angharad James all had shots on goal.
The aggression continued, but the Royals were unable to make it count and just after the hour mark, Roord finished off a great team goal to get her second of the game and Arsenal’s fourth.
Arsenal came close again as Reading went into survival mode, Miedema having a shot blocked by Bartrip, only for her follow-up effort to be tipped onto the bar by Moloney. Minutes later they came close again, the ball eventually being cleared off the line by Moloney once again.
Arsenal’s fifth came out of nowhere as Miedema secured her brace with a thunderous effort from outside the box, before Roord converted her hat-trick coolly two minutes later to make it 6.
As always, Reading kept fighting and Carter slid in after a mistake from Zinsberger to get the consolation goal on the 89th minute after a period of pressure from the Royals.
Full Time Score: Arsenal Women FC 6 - 1 Reading FC Women
Arsenal Women FC: Zinsberger, Williamson, Nobbs (Evans 76), Mead (Foord 69), Little (Gut 76), Miedema, Catley (Maier 69), Walti (Van De Donk 69), Roord, Maritz, Schnaderbeck.
Substitutes: Evans, Stenson, Mace.
Goals: Little (15), Miedema (33, 78), Roord (39, 63, 80)
Yellow cards: Maritz
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Leine (Rowe ’45), Mitchell, Williams (Bruton ’45), Bartrip, James, Fishlock, Eikeland, Harding, Cooper, Carter.
Substitutes: Nayler, Woodham, Skeels, Roberts, Quirk, Harries.
Goals: Carter 89’
Yellow cards: Bruton, Fishlock