Reading FC Women’s remarkable Continental Cup run came to an end in heartbreaking fashion at the hands of Arsenal on Sunday, who pinched a late 3-2 win to set up a final date with Man City.
Arsenal, four-time winners of the competition, came from a goal down to nick the win in the final 10 minutes to set up a rematch of the 2014 final of the tournament.
It had been an exceptionally exciting campaign for Reading, who had won all four of their group fixtures – including beating Arsenal – and then knocked out Everton by way of penalties in the quarter-final.
But while there will be disappointment at missing out on a chance to contest the final, there should also be plenty of pride in what has been achieved in a terrific campaign to date.
Both sides arrived at Adams Park in positive mood – the game sprung into life with each team netting before ten minutes had been played. Beth Mead put Arsenal ahead after five minutes, scrambling in after Danielle Carter’s cross from the right caused havoc, but Reading levelled two minutes later as Brooke Chaplen curled in a delightful strike from the edge of Arsenal’s area.
Grace Moloney pulled off some outstanding stops to ensure the scores stayed level – in the first half she denied Vivianne Miedema a one-on-one opportunity, and after the break she denied Carter in a similar scenario after she had picked off a loose pass.
And it was Reading who struck next, with 20 minutes left to play – the ball broke for Lauren Bruton on the edge of the area, who met her effort cleanly to thunder past Sari van Veenendaal in the Arsenal net.
But ten minutes later, the Gunners had the game balanced again at two goals apiece – Miedema, composed in front of goal, finished smartly with her left foot from close range.
And in the 83rd minute, Arsenal grabbed the goal that proved decisive – Moloney did brilliantly to claw away an initial effort but Jordan Nobbs reacted quickest to poke home inside the six-yard box. Reading piled forward in search of an equaliser… but to no avail. It will be Arsenal to play for the silverware in the final.
Full-time: Reading FC Women 2-3 Arsenal Women
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Scott, Williams, Bartrip (Linnett 75), Pearce, Furness, Allen, Bruton, Chaplen, Potter, Rowe.
Unused subs: Earps, Fletcher, Green, Clifford.
Arsenal Women: Van Veenendaal, Mitchell, Williamson, Nobbs, Carter (O'Reilly 73), Meidema, Evans, Rose (Quinn 73), Janssen, Mead (McCabe 90), Van de Donk.
Unused subs: Moorhouse, James, Hinds, Filbe.