An outstanding five goals from Lisa-Marie Utland and a first Royals goal for fellow Norwegian Kristine Leine ensured Reading put qualification into the Conti Cup knockout stages back in their own hands with a convincing 6-0 win over Crystal Palace under the Madejski Stadium lights.
The hosts started on the front foot and managed to force a couple of early half-chances but neither Brooke Chaplen’s strike or Lisa-Marie Utland’s header could force Crystal Palace goalkeeper Emma Gibbon into a save.
The Royals led on 8 minutes as Gibbon was called into action to deny Chaplen, but Utland finished the chance on the rebound.
The visitors were hoping to respond immediately but Laws was able to beat away Magda Marengo’s fierce half-volley.
Utland followed-up another Chaplen shot to slot home, only to be denied by the offside flag as the Royals went in search of a second goal.
Utland was looking lethal in front of goal and two goals in as many minutes for the Norwegian completed a 24-minute hat-trick. She managed to drive into the area before firing across goal for the second. That came before a composed header into the corner as Reading’s domination showed in the scoreline, leading 3-0.
It was one-way traffic all first half with the Royals showing great energy across the pitch and especially in the final third. Utland and Chaplen forced Gibbon into a smart double save after 30 minutes.
It was only a matter of time before Kelly Chambers’ side had a fourth and it came through Kristine Leine five minutes before the interval. The centre-half met a Kiera Skeels corner with a clever flick at the front post to notch her first Reading goal.
Half Time: Reading FC Women 4-0 Crystal Palace
A double switch at the break from Chambers didn’t disrupt the way the game was planning out, with Reading still dominating. An unfortunate enforced change followed on 55 minutes as Skeels was taken off on a stretcher and replaced by Rachel Rowe.
Millie Farrow managed to get in behind like for much of the first half but her attempted chip over Gibbon could only force a smart save.
An Utland header and Fara Williams free-kick narrowly missed the target as Reading pushed to comprehensively finish Palace off.
Utland managed to bag another two goals late on to put the icing on the cake for Reading and did so in superb fashion too. Her fourth, and Reading’s fifth came in the form of a sublime 30-yard lob over Gibbon, before a simple tap-in during the final minute of normal time.
In truth the game had all but ended by the end of a brilliant first half from Reading as they won another three points in Group D of the Conti Cup.
Full Time: Reading FC Women 6-0 Crystal Palace Women
Reading: Laws, Leine, Pacheco, James, Allen (Williams 45), Farrow, Utland, Moore, Chaplen (Bennink 45), Howard, Skeels (Rowe 55).
Subs not used: Moloney, Eikeland.
Scorers: Utland (8, 22, 24, 85, 90) Leine (40).
Crystal Palace: Gibbon, Pepper, Goddard, Watling (Johnson 45), Mosengo (L. Rutherford 45), Waldie, Khassal, Mackenzie, E. Rutherford, Laudat (Georgiou 45), Hurley.
Subs not used: Gillett
Yellow cards: Mackenzie