Ladies report: Reading 0 Chelsea 4

It is two big wins out of two at the start of the WSL 1 Spring Series with three second-half goals added to Karen Carney’s opener giving a scoreline that represented the overall balance of the game.

For the second match running it was Drew Spence who found the net first after the interval before Ji So-Yun, only seconds after coming on, made it 3-0 with a fine strike, with Hannah Blundell completing the scoring inside the final 10 minutes.

Emma Hayes’s side had struck woodwork early on too and it was only late in the game at a damp Adams Park in Wycombe that the home side came close to finding the Chelsea net.

There were five changes to the Blues side from the big home win against Yeovil just three days ago, including yesterday’s re-signing Carly Telford who went straight in goal. The front three from the weekend 6-0 win were all on the bench with their places taken by Eni Aluko and Ramona Bachmann, plus Carney who moved into a more forward position with skipper Katie Chapman back in midfield. The back-three were unchanged but Blundell was handed a start at wing-back.

All three of Reading’s new signings this week, Jo Potter, Jade Moore and Kirsty Linnett, who like Telford had become available following the folding of Notts County, began on the home team’s bench.

Chelsea’s early threat in the game was from set-pieces, firstly a scramble following a Carney corner and then far closer to producing a goal, a Maren Mjedle free-kick that thumped back off the crossbar with the Reading keeper struggling.

It was otherwise a tight opening period but it did take a very well-judged saving tackle from Harriet Scott to deny Bachmann a golden opportunity to find the net.  

Reading midfielder Remi Allen was yellow carded for taking down Aluko on halfway with Scott following into the book soon after for a foul on Bachmann.

It was our Swiss international who was next to go close when some space at last opened up for Chelsea to attack with half-an-hour played. Carney was involved but it was Bachmann’s pace which took her through on the left but with the angle for the shot tight, the keeper was able to save at the near post.

We did not have to wait long to break the deadlock. This time the attack was down the right channel from where Aluko sent over an irresistible cross. Carney from six yards out made no mistake with her downward header. Her first goal of the season still separated the sides at half-time. 

Reading introduced Linnett for her debut at the start of the second period, and Moore and Potter were also brought on during the course of the half, but it was Chelsea who showed first again, with Carney hitting the keeper’s legs when one on one.

The Blues were pushing hard at the Reading defence when our first change was made with an hour played, Crystal Dunn a straight swap for Aluko.

It was however the constantly threatening Bachmann who was the creator of the second goal. Racing into space on the right, she centred the ball low and into the crowd where Spence had arrived and was ideally placed to find the net.

The fourth official had barely lowered his number board for Ji’s introduction from the bench when the Korean made the most instant of impacts by scoring Chelsea’s third goal from Bachmann's pass. That was her fifth of the campaign and third in the league already, and a narrow lead had rapidly become very comfortable, especially given the home side’s limited threat to date.

It had been a quiet return to Chelsea action for Telford but the England international was required to tip over one shot at full stretch that was dipping under the bar.

The Chelsea fourth came after Reading failed to properly clear a Dunn cross. The ball was knocked around the area before falling to Blundell to convert. 

In stoppage time Reading did come close to spoiling Chelsea’s clean sheet during a moment of pinball in our goalmouth, so close they were convinced the ball had crossed the line, but the officials disagreed.

Next up for the Ladies is a home game against Arsenal but with the match against Notts County originally scheduled for this weekend cancelled, that is in a fortnight’s time.  

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Telford; Cooper, Mjelde, Bright; Blundell, Chapman (c), Spence, England; Carney (Ji 68), Bachmann (Davison 73), Aluko (Dunn 61).
Unused subs Kitching, Fahey, Cuthbert.
Scorers Carney 32, Spence 64, Ji 69, Blundell 81.

Reading (3-4-2-1): Earps; Scott (Potter 64), McGee (c), Green; Jane, Allen, Furness, Rowe; Bruton, Chaplen (Moore 61), Fletcher (Linnett h-t)
Unused subs Lahmari, Estcourt, Moloney, O’Rourke.
Booked Allen 19, Scott 23, Furness 90+1.

Crowd 797