Women's Football

Rotated Chelsea side stunned by Reading in the WSL

Jamie Spencer
Reading inflicted a rare WSL defeat on Chelsea
Reading inflicted a rare WSL defeat on Chelsea / Ben Hoskins/GettyImages
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Chelsea suffered a shock defeat to Reading in the WSL in Saturday’s early kick-off, with a single early goal from Royals forward Deanne Rose enough to decide the contest.

The Blues lifted the FA Cup last weekend at the end of last season’s delayed final against Arsenal and were in action against Juventus in the Champions League group stage in midweek.

Emma Hayes’ side were held by the Italians champions in a frustrating 0-0 draw and were caught cold when Reading took the lead through summer signing Rose just four minutes in.

Ahead of the FA Cup final, Hayes discussed the intense fixture list, with her players in action three times in a week straight after off the back of the international break.

Nine of the Chelsea players who started at Wembley also started against Juventus, with one of those changes being Pernille Harder making her first start since being out injured for several weeks.

There were six changes for the trip to Reading. Jessie Fleming and Melanie Leupolz came back into the side, while there were rarer starts for Bethany England, Drew Spence, Jonna Andersson and stand-in goalkeeper Zecira Musovic.

Even so, the depth Chelsea possess still made them favourites to claim three points.

Reading, led by November’s WSL manager of the month Kelly Chambers, had other ideas. Rose’s early breakthrough came on the counter attack and it took a heroic defensive effort to preserve that lead for the remaining 86 minutes plus stoppage time.

Gemma Evans cleared the ball off the line and later made a goal-saving tackle as Chelsea rained down 35 total shots in the direction of the Reading. Crucially, only four were actually on target.

Defeat for Chelsea, only their third loss in a WSL game since January 2019, denied them the opportunity to at least temporarily go top of the table before Arsenal play on Sunday. It also gives the Gunners chance to extend their lead to four points when they host bottom club Leicester.

Reading, meanwhile, have firmly put four straight defeats at the start of the season behind them and have now taken 13 points from the last 15 on offer to surge up the table.


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