Sunday, May 19, 2024

Reading Women 0-6 Arsenal- Match Report

Arsenal: D’Angelo; McCabe, Codina, Beattie, Catley; Pelova, Cooney-Cross; Lacasse, Maanum, Foord; Blackstenius.

Subs: Zinsberger, Fox, Williamson, Mead, Little, Miedema, Russo, Ilestedt, Williams

After nine months out with an ACL injury, Leah Williamson returned to the Arsenal squad for tonight’s Conti Cup tie at Reading. Kim Little also returned to the squad for the first time in 2024 following injury.

Arsenal needed a win to top their group and guarantee qualification for the quarter-finals of the tournament they won last season. Arsenal dominated possession against Reading’s back five early in the game and nearly opened the scoring five minutes in when Frida Maanum’s pass found the lively Cloe Lacasse on the right and her shot was gathered at the second attempt by Reading keeper Eve Annets.

The Gunners went close again in the 9th minute when Lacasse dispossessed a Reading defender on the edge of the area, Blackstenius picked up the loose ball and cut back for Maanum, whose shot deflected into the arms of a grateful Annets. Arsenal had established a firm dominance and went close again two minutes later, again it was Lacasse down the right who cut the ball back to Maanum and her shot was, again, deflected and just drifted wide. From the resulting corner Lacasse’s near post header was palmed away by an increasingly busy Annets.

Katie McCabe had a trademark sighted from 25 yards on 17 minutes which whistled narrowly over the bar. Arsenal continued to pile on the pressure and Maanum’s shot was once again deflected over after Pelova’s clever turn and pass on 20 minutes. Arsenal finally took the lead on 22 minutes after Maanum showed clever feet to play a disguised pass into Foord in the left channel and the Australian made no mistake, steering the ball into the corner to make it 1-0.

Arsenal nearly doubled the lead on 25 minutes when Lacasse again beat her full-back, cut the ball back to Pelova and the Dutch midfielder’s shot was parried by the keeper. Eidevall’s side were having the lion’s share of the play, so much so that the travelling fans broke out in an Emily Fox friendly chant of ‘let’s go defence!’ As Reading mounted a rare attack, a reference to Fox’s chat with Arseblog News on Saturday where she referenced the typical flair for chanting in the US.

The away side quickly moved into a 2-0 lead on 34 minutes when Steph Catley powered down the left hand side, fizzed a cross into the area and Stina Blackstenius diverted it into the net at the front post. Arsenal scored a third shortly before half time when Kyra Cooney-Cross won a 50-50 on the corner of the Reading area, fed the ball inside to Blackstenius and the Swede swivelled and turned the ball into the far corner.


Arsenal took less than a minute to mount their first effort on goal in the second half, Maanum and Blackstenius played a one two on the edge of the area but Maanum sliced her shot from the edge of the area just wide. Blackstenius went close to a hat trick on 48 minutes when she collected Pelova’s pass in the right channel but her shot was deflected narrowly over the bar from close range.

The Gunners went close again just a minute later, this time Cooney-Cross found Catley in the left channel and her fizzed cross was deflected towards her own goal by Caitlin Smith. From the resulting corner, Laia Codina headed home her first Arsenal goal from Catley’s corner.

The home side forced their first shot on target in the 56th minute with a counter attack that saw Charlie Wellings find space in the right channel but her shot from the edge of the area was well dealt with by D’Angelo. Arsenal went close to a fifth on 59 minutes when Blackstenius’ header was turned onto the post by Annets.

But the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Leah Williamson, who came on as a 60th minute substitute for her first appearance since rupturing her ACL in April. Katie McCabe immediately gave her the captain’s armband upon her entry. Blackstenius was determined to score a hat trick and had another shot from a tight angle beaten away on 69 minutes as Arsenal continued to probe.

On 70 minutes, Kim Little made her return from injury and made her 300th Arsenal appearance. On 80 minutes, Leah Williamson played a trademark pass over the top of the Reading defence to Beth Mead on the corner of the area and Mead rattled home the half volley from range for the goal of the night. Blackstenius finally did get her hat trick with seven minutes remaining as she closed down an under hit back pass to score from close range and make it 6-0.

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Cooney-Cross, impressive again. Has a bright future ahead of her.

Stina has been a lot more clinical this season. Can we say that competition is bringing out the best in her?

Salvador Berzunza

Stina should be rewarded with a start in the league, otherwise is not a competition.

Fun Gunner

I hear you (and agree) but JE always says it’s not always about who starts, it’s just as important who finishes the game. He will have a game plan, an awareness of which aspects of our play need to be worked on in a match environment, which on-field relationships he is trying to foster, as well as who is in form, whose load needs to be lightened, the best way to integrate returning players…etc, etc and all of that will inform his selection of a starting 11. Sixteen players will play some part in the match and I don’t think… Read more »


I do feel that there must be a way of including both Lessi and Stina.

Fun Gunner

Yes – totally agree!


I had that thought too. Agree with you 100%

Adrian Scott

What a game. So wonderful to see Kim and Leah back and playing so well. Leah’s form was nothing shore of magnificent! All of her passes were right on target. Stina goes from strength and is now having a wonderful season.
With the quality that we now have there should be no stopping us.

Fun Gunner

Blimey, that was fast, Tim! Wonderful to see the returnees – Williamson slotted in perfectly. JE will be very happy with that performance. Better than we played against Watford. There were occasional lapses of concentration, and we could have moved the ball at a quicker pace from the beginning, but we were relentless and intelligent in our attacks and aggressive in winning the ball back. Lacasse was an absolute menace on the right – her balance and agility in tight spaces is unbelievable.. Foord was her usual tricky self on the left. She is in one of her purple patches… Read more »


Leah, Kim, Beth and Viv all on the pitch together – it’s 2019 again!

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