Rampant Second Half Sees Chelsea Go Top

Chelsea 5-0 Reading

Words and EXCLUSIVE photos by Ben Gilby (4/4/22)

Above: Deanne Rose (right)’s battles with Jess Carter was one of the highlights of the first half. Photo: Ben Gilby for Impetus.

Chelsea moved one point clear at the top of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League thanks to a dominant second-half performance against Reading at Kingsmeadow last night.

Goals either side of half-time from Jessie Fleming and a superb volley from Beth England turned the game after Kelly Chambers’ Berkshire side had frustrated the defending champions in the opening 45 minutes.

Reading were exceptionally well organized, resolute, and adopted a super high press which earned them turn over ball and forced Chelsea into occasional misplaced passes. Add into the mix the sensational Deanne Rose whose pace on the counter led to a hugely entertaining personal duel with Jess Carter. If the Royals only had a quality striker to finish, then Chelsea could have been in trouble.

Above: Jessie Fleming in action last night. The Canadian Olympic champion put Chelsea ahead with a great piece of skill. Photo: Ben Gilby for Impetus.

However, as they usually do against the massed ranks of defensive visitors at Kingsmeadow, Emma Hayes’ side found a way to breakthrough. Erin Cuthbert, a real Scottish terrier in midfield once more found Reiten on the left. The Norwegian, in sublime form all night, pulled over a cross on the left which Beth England nodded back to Fleming who chested down and struck home.

Just seven minutes into the second period, it was the game-breaking second. Once more it was Reiten the provider. England fed the ball out to her on the left for a cross which the Lionesses striker volleyed home into the left-hand corner of the net.

It was all Chelsea after that with Reading’s efforts of the first half just a fading memory. Two goals in 11 minutes from Sam Kerr added gloss to the Blues’ rampant showing. Her first goal on 66 minutes was supplied by Norwegian star Reiten once more as a low ball in from the left was swept home by Australia’s all-time leading goal scorer.

Kerr made it 4-0 when Cuthbert laid across a perfectly angled shot for the East Fremantle-born star to side foot comfortably into the net.

Above: Beth England sizes up the penalty in stoppage time at the end of the game which made it 5-0. Photo: Ben Gilby for Impetus.

There was time for a fifth in stoppage time when England was brought down. Kerr initially picked up the ball for what would have been a hat-trick goal, but to the applause of the crowd handed it to England to dispatch into the net.

Chelsea were comfortable winners in the end and now are a point clear of Arsenal with a superior goal difference. Reading had produced the best performance of any non-top three side at Kingsmeadow this season, but Emma Hayes’ side’s ability to score when it mattered did for the Royals in the end.

Ben Gilby’s EXCLUSIVE photo gallery from Kingsmeadow:

Teams: CHELSEA (3-5-2): Musovic, Bright, Nouwen, Eriksson, Carter, Fleming, Ingle, Cuthbert, Reiten, England, Kerr. Substitutes: Mjelde, Charles, Spence, Andersson, Abdullina, Berger (GK), Thompson.

Scorers: Fleming 40′, England 52′, 90+2′ (pen). Kerr 66′, 77′.

READING (5-4-1): Moloney, Bryson, Harding, Evans, Cooper, Woodham, Harries, Eikeland, Peplow, Rose, Rowe. Substitutes: Dowie, Stewart (GK), Roberts, Primmer, Troelsgaard.

Referee: Emily Heaslip.

Attendance: 2,485.

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