Match Preview

Women's preview: Aiming to extend winning run

Chelsea Women return to WSL 1 action tomorrow with a home game against Reading, looking to build on a recent run of four straight victories.

THE FORM

The Blues slipped down to fifth in the FA Women's Super League standings on our weekend off, with all but bottom side Everton having now played nine matches. We are, however, on our best run of the season, having won four matches on the bounce in all competitions, rediscovering our goalscoring form in the process and taking our run of clean sheets to 13 from the past 14 games.

The most recent of those victories came in the middle of November when we put five past Yeovil Town. The result never looked in doubt from the moment Millie Bright put us ahead in the 20th minute. Ji So-Yun added a second soon after with a wonderful run and equally accomplished finish and by the time of the interval our lead had been extended to four courtesy of a sublime volley by Erin Cuthbert and Ramona Bachmann's fourth goal in three appearances. A fantastic strike from substitute Bethany England put the exclamation point at the end of a fine performance.
 

Reading moved ahead of us into fourth spot last weekend as they made it three wins in a row after a slow start to the WSL season. Everton, Brighton and Bristol City have all been seen off in recent weeks, with Brooke Chaplen scoring in all three matches, although they had to come from behind to see off the Toffees last time out.

ELSEWHERE IN THE WSL

It's a huge weekend at the top of the table as Manchester City look to end Arsenal's nine-match winning run to start the WSL campaign, as well as clawing back some of the six-point deficit they currently face behind the leaders. There's also the Merseyside derby at midday, while Birmingham City host Yeovil and Brighton take on West Ham.

ROYAL BLUE GEM

Chelsea supporters will no doubt give a warm welcome to the returning Gemma Davison, who joined Reading in the summer after winning five major honours with the Blues. After joining us from Liverpool ahead of the 2015 season, Davison played a key role in our Double-winning campaign and was voted Player of the Year by supporters.

Although she struggled to maintain that form, the winger remained a tough prospect for any full-back on her day and she reinvented herself as a wing-back in the latter part of her time here, winning the Spring Series and another Double.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

There haven't been too many matches between the sides since the WSL began in 2011, but when Chelsea take on Reading there tends to be plenty of goals.

We won the first three meetings between the sides, two of which came in the 2016 season and the other in last year's Spring Series. The first match saw us come away with a 3-0 away win, with Davison netting a superb solo goal, and then in the return match at Wheatsheaf Park on the penultimate game of the season we were 3-2 victors. Borges again found the back of the net, following two goals for Eniola Aluko.

That was followed in the Spring Series by a thumping 4-0 win at Adams Park. Karen Carney opened the scoring with a header, which was added to by second-half goals from Drew Spence, Ji and Hannah Blundell.

 

However, both of last season's matches finished 2-2, although both sides will feel they should have earned a victory apiece. In the away fixture in November we trailed to Remi Allen’s first-half goal, but a brilliant free-kick from Carney and another goal for Aluko looked to have given us the win. However, a last-gasp own goal from Magda Eriksson earned Reading a point.

When we met again at Kingsmeadow in March, Reading took the lead again in the first half, this time from a Chaplen penalty, and doubled their advantage early in the second half through Fara Williams. The Blues stormed back, though, scoring through Jonna Andersson and former Royals star Fran Kirby to earn a point. It could have even been all three had the referee not harshly disallowed a stoppage-time effort from Spence.

 

- Tickets for today's game, which kicks off at 2pm, will be available on arrival at the stadium.

In honour of the great work they do in the local area, we are offering any staff member of the NHS or the Emergency Services two free tickets to today's game. All you need to do is sign up here to claim your free tickets, and then pick them up from the Kingsmeadow ticket office on arrival with proof of ID.

 

MORE FROM CHELSEA