There has been no bigger game in the history of Reading FC Women than this Sunday’s upcoming SSE Women’s FA Cup Semi-Final against West Ham United.
A win against our rivals this weekend would take us to an unprecedented Final at Wembley – a chance for major silverware for the Royals.
The countdown is on. So here’s a recap of how the two teams made it to this stage.
Fourth Round: Reading FC Women 13-0 Keynsham Town Women
Both Reading and West Ham were given byes to the Fourth Round stage, by virtue of their top-tier status. And truth be told, it was a bit of a mismatch against a Keynsham Town side who had done well to get that far after entering in the Second Round Qualifying, knocking out five opponents on the way.
The fourth-tier side put up resistance for 20 minutes – but then the floodgates opened. Fara Williams scored five (three from the penalty spot), while Lauren Bruton, Brooke Chaplen and Rakel Hönnudóttir each grabbed two and Charlie Estcourt and Gemma Davison notched one each. A comprehensive victory.
At the same stage, the Hammers were 3-1 winners on home turf against Blackburn Rovers, as Adriana Leon’s double and Brianna Visalli’s sole strike helped earn passage.
Fifth Round: Reading FC Women 2-1 Birmingham City Women
Just one week later, it was a tougher challenge against a fellow Women’s Super League side – the Royals again rose to meet it.
It was two subs who scored the goals for the Royals; first was captain Kirsty Pearce, who cushioned Fara Williams’ deep free-kick into the net – but soon after Aoife Mannion levelled from the spot for the Blues as Ellen White was fouled in the box.
But then Rakel Hönnudóttir was released one-on-one in the final few minutes, and showed ice-cold composure to slot past Hannah Hampton and send the Royals into the next round.
On the very same day, West Ham also secured their Quarter-Final place – but in a much more comprehensive fashion. Third-tier side Huddersfield Town were swept aside 8-1; there were six separate scorers, including a hat-trick for Leanne Kiernan.
Quarter-Final: Reading FC Women 3-2 Manchester United Women (AET)
Drama of the highest order earned the Royals their place in the final four. The Royals had been the first ever team to beat the newly-formed Manchester United side in the Continental Cup back in August, but since then the Red Devils had proven to be a formidable side in England’s second tier.
When the referee brought a close to the 90 minutes, the scoreline read 0-0. So few would have predicted the goal-laden half-hour that followed.
First blood to United; Alex Greenwood slotted in from the penalty spot. But two minutes later, parity restored when Remi Allen met a Rachel Furness cross on the far side to equalise. Natasha Harding inadvertently turned into her own net to give the advantage back to the visitors, but then the same combo linked up in reverse as Allen set up Furness for a second equaliser.
And with the game poised for penalties, Fara Williams’ firmly-hit free-kick had a bit too much fizz for Siobhan Chamberlain to hold, allowing Rakel Hönnudóttir to continue her cup heroics and stab in a 120th-minute winner.
For West Ham, the odd goal settled it away at Aston Villa; Jane Ross grabbed the game's only goal in the first half as a 1-0 win was enough to take them through to the last four.
Now onto the Semi-Final, again at Adams Park. Ticket information can be found for this Sunday’s match by clicking the link below.