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Successful season in WSL for Royals Women

Recapping the Woman's team’s triumphs in 2018-19

23 May 2019

It’s been another fantastic season for Kelly Chambers’ team – battling it out for a fifth-placed finish in English football’s top tier as well as a first-ever appearance in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Adams Park was treated to a five-star performance against Durham in the Royals’ opening group game of their Continental Cup campaign in August.

Goals from Brooke Chaplen and Gemma Davison then gave the side an historic cup win against Manchester United in what was a record attendance in the FA Women’s League Cup at Leigh Sports Village, in front of 4,835 fans.

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Following back-to-back Continental Cup wins before the international break, league action kicked off in September with a resounding 4-0 win over Yeovil in WSL1.

Tough opposition in Arsenal, Manchester City and Birmingham formed their league opponents throughout September and October.

November’s two week international hiatus was sandwiched by three points against Bristol City and a 4-1 win against Brighton in Sussex to take the Royals up to fifth in the league.  

A brace by Chaplen followed against Everton Ladies that sealed the comeback at Adams Park to stretch their winning run to three in the WSL.

Penalties cruelly denied Kelly Chambers’ side victory against Liverpool in the Continental Cup in December – the two sides had previously been short of a winner when league action concluded in a 2-2 draw three days earlier.

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February brought around the SSE Women's FA Cup and with it, a more than comfortable win by a 13-goal margin against Keynsham Town to send Reading into the Fifth Round.

Substitutes were the star of the show against Birmingham City a week later, as both Kirsty Pearce and Rakel Hönnudóttir found the net from the bench to earn a place in the hat for the FA Cup quarter-finals.

It was the first time since the 2015-16 instalment of the competition that the Royals had made it to the last eight, and a seven-goal thriller against Manchester City set up the tie against their borough counterparts as United visited Adams Park in March.

A goalless draw after 90 minutes, the first goal came midway through the first half of extra-time when United captain Alex Greenwood put the visitors ahead.

Within two minutes, Remi Allen had levelled for the Royals, but they were soon behind again when Jess Sigsworth’s cross found its way to the back of the net.

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However, the response was even quicker this time – the same duo linked up again as Allen provided the ball for Rachel Furness who converted from close-range.

In the final minute of the game, January signing Hönnudóttir scrambled in from Fara Williams’ saved free kick causing jubilation among the home crowd, meaning they would compete in the SSE FA Cup Final for the first time in the club’s history.

In-between that exhilarating extra-time quarter-final win and an eagerly anticipated FA Cup semi-final against West Ham, Reading picked up a big three points in league action against Bristol City, inflicting a first league defeat on home soil since October for the Vixens.

2,334 fans came to watch the box-office clash between the Royals and West Ham at Adams Park, and three minutes into the second half, Furness rose highest to plant her header inside the right-hand post to give the advantage to Kelly Chambers’ side.

The Hammers levelled however before the hour through Alisha Lehmann, with the upright aiding the visitors to extra-time when Williams saw her spot kick rebound off the post late on.

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As extra time provided no more goals, the Women’s FA Cup would be decided by penalties, and a sudden-death spot kick from Cho So-Hyun sent West Ham to Wembley in a heart-breaking cup exit for the Royals.

Three days later and bouncing back from defeat, attention now fell on league results and a different-look Reading side put five past Yeovil on the road, with Lily Woodham making her first league start in the process.

Madejski Stadium was the venue for the Royals’ penultimate home game of the season. Brighton’s visit to RG2 marked three league wins on the bounce as Furness grabbed her fourth goal of the season in blue and white hoops.

Chelsea arrived at Adams Park in May, and with Kelly Chambers’ side having already secured fifth place before kick-off, fans were treated to an exciting end-of-season run-in against a Blues side who narrowly edged out the Royals in a frantic five-goal finale to secure third place for Blues in WSL1.


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