Conti Cup: Arsenal stun Reading during Leah Williamson return

Arsenal's Leah Williamson is substituted on for teammate Jennifer Beattie
Leah Williamson is substituted on for teammate Jennifer Beattie during the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup match between Reading and Arsenal. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 6-0 win in their latest Continental Cup clash against Reading and fans were delighted to see the return of both captain Kim Little and vice-captain Leah Williamson.

This match marked the first meeting between the two sides since Reading were relegated at the end of last season. In the previous 11 meetings, Reading have never beaten Arsenal, but managed to get a draw on two occasions.

Prior to this match, Reading sat at the bottom of the group on two points. However, Arsenal found themselves top of the group following the penalty shootout win against Tottenham in December. The Gunners only needed a win to progress into the quarter-finals.

Little and Williamson made their return to the Arsenal bench after being out with injuries. The latter having been out of action for nine months following an ACL rupture.

Starting XIs

Reading

Annets; Kith, Smith, Hendrix, Houssein, Longhurst, Woodham (Roberts, 68′), Primmer (Hunt, 75′), Wellings (Perry, 75′), Estcourt (Elwood, 68′), Wade (Jarvis, 85′).

Arsenal

D’angelo; Catley, Beattie (Williamson, 60′), Codina, McCabe (Ilestedt, 71′), Cooney-Cross, Pelova (Little, 71′) , Maanum (Miedema, 79′), Foord (Mead, 60′), Blackstenius, Lacasse.

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How it went

Arsenal’s early dominance was rewarded in the 23rd minute following a line-breaking pass from Maanum which was slotted home by Foord. That is now two goals in two games for the Australian. Just over 10 minutes later, Blackstenius got her first of the game following a cross from Catley. Moments before half time, Blackstenius hit the back of the next once again.

Arsenal maintained this pressure in the second half and made it 4-0 in the 51st minute when Codina headed home. This marks a first goal in an Arsenal shirt for the World Cup winner. Reading were extremely quiet in front of goal, managing only two shots on target. Their best chance came just before the 60th minute when Primmer’s shot was saved by D’angelo.

England captain Leah Williamson entered the field in the 61st minute and no longer than 20 minutes later, provided an assist. A trademark long pass from the back was volleyed into the back of the net by Mead.

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The final goal was scored in the 84th minute, when Blackstenius sealed her hat-trick. Annets took too long on the ball and the Swede was there to pounce, as she stole the ball and slotted it home.

Who is up next?

Arsenal will hope to take revenge on Liverpool this Sunday following their defeat on Matchday 1. The match kicks off at 4:30pm GMT and will be streamed on Sky Sports for those in the UK. International viewers can watch via the FA Player.

Reading will hope to keep their chances of survival alive with a win over Lewes on Sunday. They currently sit in 10th position and are only three points clear of the relegation zone.

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