Reading occupied the sole relegation spot in the FA Women’s Super League ahead of kickoff, and high-flying Villa certainly wouldn’t be an easy opposition to steal points from. The Royals have recently from the EFL Championship – they’d have been keen to avoid their women’s side dropping down a division too.
REA: Moloney; Mukandi, Mayi Kith, Caldwell, Eikeland; Wellings, Moore, Vanhaevermaet, Harries; Rowe, Troelsgaard
AVL: Hampton; Pacheco, Turner, Patten, Mayling; Hanson, Staniforth, Dali; Daly, Lehmann, Blindkilde
The first ten minutes or so at the Select Car Leasing Stadium lacked quality – but Rachel Daly was able to poke home the opener in the 14th minute. Kirsty Hanson’s cross from the left found the forward in acres of space inside the box, and her strike settle beautifully in the back of the net after taking a deflection off the post.
Reading looked to respond instantly though, as Sanne Troelsgaard attempted to threaten Hannah Hampton between the sticks. The Danish striker’s effort struck the post before rolling across the face of goal, but Villa were able to clear it eventually.
Alisha Lehmann threaded a pinpoint ball through a gap in Reading’s defence, but the Royals were saved once more by Grace Moloney who did well to race Rachel Daly to the ball.
In the 42nd minute, Carla Ward’s Aston Villa side doubled their lead – as Alisha Lehmann managed to get on the end of Rachel Daly’s cross into the area. There were calls for an offside in the buildup, though the flag stayed down.
The action was far from over in the first half though, as Kirsty Hanson added Villa’s third goal just two minutes later. Rachel Daly was the provider once again, opting to play in Hanson rather than taking the shot on herself – and the finish was a simple one for the Scottish international.
The second half looked to start as the first half ended, with Kenza Dali floating a free-kick across the box – but Danielle Turner’s was caught well by Grace Moloney. Reading looked to cause problems at the other end of the pitch soon after, as Jade Moore attempted a shot from the edge of the box. Her effort was sent way over the crossbar though.
Rachel Daly got her second of the afternoon in the 55th minute, as she tucked Kenza Dali’s cross into the back of the net to put Villa four goals clear. The English forward has been running rampant for the Midlands side this season, and that’s her nineteenth league goal of the campaign – impressive numbers for anyone, let alone someone who starts at left-back for their country!
Less than ten minutes later, she hit her twentieth of the season – and once again it was Kenza Dali with the assist. A beautifully weighted pass allowed Daly to take it in her stride, thumping an effort past Grace Moloney once more – seemingly condemning Reading to relegation with two games left to play.
Reading applied very little pressure throughout the remainder of the game, as overcoming a five-goal deficit against a side of Villa’s quality would be nigh on impossible. Carla Ward’s Aston Villa are back in action in a fortnight, as they host Liverpool at Villa Park.
As for Reading, while they aren’t mathematically relegated yet, it looks as if they’re prolonging the inevitable. A trip to North London on May 20th will see them face Tottenham Hotspur in the first ever Premier League / Women’s Super League double header – and then they’ll host Chelsea a week later.