Kelly Chambers' side secure 'biggest achievement in Reading Women’s history'.Reading Women have been on the ascension in recent years and Kelly Chambers’ side have just completed a landmark campaign after securing top flight football until 2018.
Despite Sunday afternoon’s result, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Doncaster Belles, RFC Women have held their own in the elite level of Women’s football this season, staving off relegation worries following their promotion to WSL1 at the end last season.
There’s no hiding it, the past season has been a challenging one for Reading Women, with the team having to adjust to the demands of Women’s Super League 1 (WSL1) football. At the beginning of the season the majority of the players turned full time for the first time in their careers and the club was able to employ a number of dedicated backroom staff.
The club also invested heavily in facilities, moving from Farnborough FC’s Rushmoor stadium to Adams Park (Wycombe Wanderers’ ground), where the pitch has been nothing short of exceptional. The team was also able to relocate training to the excellent facilities at Bisham Abbey’s National Sports Centre in Marlow.
The season got off to a hectic start on the 20th March, with three games in just 6 days, beginning with a comfortable 2-0 win in the FA Cup against Millwall. The side then travelled to Boreham Wood, where their first ever WSL1 match ended in a 3-1 defeat at the hands of a more experienced Arsenal side. With little time to analyse a respectable performance, the team shot off to Sunderland, where they picked up their first point with a hard-fought 1-1 draw in torrential rain, their first of six stalemates so far this season.
Across the following six months the team regularly gave good accounts of themselves, competing in every game and earning points in half of their matches – no side has drawn more than Reading Women (six) in WSL1 this season. Chambers’ side had to wait until 24th September for their first win, an emphatic 4-1 away victory to rivals Doncaster Belles. This was a huge step towards securing safety, which was confirmed two weeks later following the Belles’ defeat to Notts County, relegating them back to WSL2.
Reading’s final two games of the season were a real mixed bag for Chambers' side, with the Royals going away to Chelsea and only losing narrowly to a star studded team. After coming from behind the level the game at one stage the match ended 3-2 to the hosts, but looked to be another big step forwards for the Royals in what was already and landmark season.
Despite defeat on the final day to Doncaster at Adams Park, Royals boss Kelly Chambers says the club have learned a lot from the season as a whole.
“It has been a great learning curve for the club, staff and players this season going from semi-professional to professional in the space of a month of our WSL2 season finishing,” Chambers said.
“Even though it took a bit of time, I must praise the players for how they have adapted to professional football as none of them had experience of this before. The staff have been magnificent supporting the players to make the transition and we definitely wouldn’t have secured WSL1 football for next season without them.
Chambers also drew on the similarities between the men’s and women’s set up at Reading and was quick to praise the fans for the support they have given her side this season.
“The ethos and spirit of the club runs through our set up and, just like the men, our Academy is so important to our future success.
“I must thank all our fans for sticking by us and supporting us up and down the country. They have definitely been that extra player on the pitch for us. This club is building and progressing in the women’s game and you are a huge part of it,” Kelly continued.
“We want to make Reading proud of its women’s team, we’re already in the top eight in the country and we want to push on now and continue to improve. In many ways, staying up has been the biggest achievement in Reading Women’s history.”