Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal lifted the Continental Tyres League Cup last Sunday, and the Gunners returned to WSL action a week later. They welcomed a struggling Reading side to Meadow Park, knowing that a win would keep them in contention for the unbelievably close title fight.
ARS: Zinsberger; Maritz, Rafaelle, Wubben-Moy, Wienroither; Williamson, Little, Walti; McCabe, Maanum, Foord
REA: Moloney; Mukandi, Evans, Mayi Kith, Bryson; Moore, Vanhaevermaet, Eikeland; Harries, Rowe, Wellings
Arsenal took an early lead from the penalty spot, as Kim Little fired past the keeper after Katie McCabe was downed inside the area. Grace Moloney managed to get a hand to it – but wasn’t able to make the save, and the Gunners took the lead within five minutes.
Grace Moloney was certainly put to work throughout the game, with McCabe and Frida Maanum both attempting to challenge the Reading ‘keeper – though she did well to keep the scoreline at 1-0. Leah Williamson’s close range effort just before the thirty-minute mark posed a particular threat, as the England captain got on the end of Noelle Maritz’s cross – but Moloney produced a fine stop with her feet to deny the Gunners.
Arsenal finally got their second just minutes before half time, as Caitlin Foord’s cross found Frida Maanum who powered the ball into the back of the net – meaning Jonas Eidevall’s side held a comfortable lead at the break.
They added to that lead almost immediately after play resumed, as Maanum’s cross into the box was turned home by Emma Mukandi – and Grace Moloney wasn’t able to keep this one out. Arsenal found the back of the net five minutes later, and once again it was Frida Maanum who fired home – but the forward was offside and the goal was disallowed.
Stina Blackstenius could have found a fourth for Arsenal soon after being introduced as a substitute, and she did well to get on the end of a phenomenal ball from Williamson – but yet again, Grace Moloney did superbly well and produced another save with her feet.
Their fourth came in the 69th minute, as Leah Williamson powered home on the rebound to send Arsenal into cruise control. Blackstenius’ strike as saved well by Moloney, but she could only parry it out as far as the England captain – who made no mistake from close range and smashed the ball into the back of the net for her first WSL goal of the season.
The final whistle sees Arsenal remain fourth – three points behind both Manchester City and Manchester United, with a game in hand. Should they win that, we could be in for a sensational end to the season, as Emma Hayes’ table-topping Chelsea are just two points ahead of the Manchester clubs. A loss for Reading sees them stay in 9th, but they’ll be looking over their shoulders for the rest of the campaign as they bid to avoid the drop.