Fara Williams struck three times as Royals defeat Championship side Lewes FC Women 3-2 at Madejski Stadium to maintain their 100% start to their Conti Cup campaign.
The first half began with Reading playing on the front foot and getting a number of shots away. Rakel Hönnudóttir and Williams both saw efforts sail off target.
Lisa-Marie Utland, who grabbed the winner last week against Everton, forced Lewes goalkeeper Faye Baker into two routine stops as the visitors stayed resolute.
It took a defensive error from Lewes to break the deadlock in Reading’s favour. Williams finished from inside the area, following Brooke Chaplen’s interception of a loose backpass. Baker saved initially from Chaplen, but Williams was on hand to sweep home with 15 minutes gone.
The visitors started knocking the ball around with more confidence having gone behind. Rachel Laws denied Zoe Ness with her feet after the Lewes striker was played through. Nevertheless, moments later, Laws couldn’t get a hand on Emily Donovan’s clean strike which arrowed into the corner to draw the Championship side level.
Another speculative shot from distance then turned the tie on its head as Ellie Noble tried her luck from 30 yards and found the top corner.
The Royals found their feet again as the first half drew to a close and were unlucky not to level through Chaplen. Defensive and goalkeeping heroics blocked two goal-bound efforts as the hosts went into half-time behind.
Half Time: Reading FC Women 1 – 2 Lewes FC Women
A double half-time switch up from Kelly Chambers certainly signalled intentions that the first half was below expectation as Maz Pacheco and Rakel Hönnudóttir made way for Jade Moore and Amalie Eikeland. Eikeland almost had an instant impact when her cross found Utland at the far post, but the latter couldn’t convert.
Angharad James forced Baker into a low save with a well-struck effort from outside the penalty area before Williams drew the Royals back level ten minutes into the second half with a sweet hit on the half-volley which Baker could only palm into the top corner of her goal.
The introduction of Millie Farrow for Utland added a different dimension to Reading’s attacking play as they continued to threaten. James and Chaplen both fired over in the matter of minutes.
Reading found themselves going close on several occasions as Eikeland was constantly put into space on the left and Chaplen, James and Williams all came close to securing the winner.
Eventually, the constant bombardment on the Lewes goal took its toll in stoppage time as Williams completed her hat-trick with a header at the back post, having met Eikeland’s cross from the left for a well deserved, yet hard fought 3 points in Continental Cup Group D.
Full-Time: Reading FC Women 3-2 Lewes FC Women
Reading: Laws, Leine, Pacheco (Moore 45), Williams, James, Hönnudóttir (Eikeland 45), Utland (Farrow 68), Chaplen, Rowe, Howard, Skeels
Subs not used: Moloney, Roberts
Scorers: Williams (16, 55, 90)
Lewes: Baker, Cleverley, Hayes, Taylor (Howell 90), Noble, Ness, King (Rowbotham 85), Powell, Donovan, O’Rourke, Savva
Subs not used: Jones, Lane, Rood
Scorers: Donovan (27) Noble (34)
Yellow cards: Cleverley