Reading’s survival in the Women’s Super League is hanging by a thread following a hugely damaging defeat by Tottenham, who confirmed their own safety with the 4-1 win.
Knowing defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and a Leicester victory over West Ham on Sunday would send them down, Reading looked edgy from the start in London.
The hosts, playing at the stadium after their men’s side lost to Brentford in a unique double-header, cruised to a 2-0 lead by half-time.
Record January signing Bethany England delivered the goods again, heading in at the back post from Molly Bartrip’s accurate chip for the opener. She scored again in the second half, rounding goalkeeper Grace Moloney before curling the ball into an empty net.
England has now scored five goals in three matches at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, also netting twice in a draw with Brighton and once in a narrow defeat by Manchester United.
Her form – which has helped keep Tottenham in the WSL – will only increase calls for her to be selected for England for this summer’s World Cup.
Celin Bizet scored in between England’s double in the first half, and Kit Graham made it 4-0 as Tottenham rubbed salt into Reading’s wounds.
Despite making several attacking changes throughout the second half, the visitors never looked like mustering a comeback, although they did get a consolation through Justine Vanhaevermaet from a corner.
Kelly Chambers’ side were evidently dejected at full-time as relegation looms, while Tottenham’s topsy-turvy season will at least end with their WSL status intact.
Little hope for dejected Reading
Reading’s fate is now out of their hands as they wait to see whether Leicester will beat West Ham to send them down.
Even if Chambers’ side do survive this weekend, they face an almighty task on the final day with five-time champions Chelsea – who are chasing a fourth successive title – coming to visit.
They lacked energy in London and were visibly dejected at half-time as Tottenham comfortably imposed themselves on their home turf in front of a larger crowd, who had stayed to watch following the men’s disappointing defeat by Brentford.
Perhaps fearful of going behind early, Reading were nervous in possession and struggled to deal with Tottenham’s intense start.
Rosella Ayane caused problems with her pace down the left, Drew Spence was a creative menace in the middle, and England’s presence was an unwelcome distraction for Reading’s backline.
The introduction of the experienced Jade Moore at half-time gave Reading a bit of a boost, but they lacked quality and were further punished by a Tottenham side who looked full of confidence.
Spurs themselves have had a hugely disappointing campaign, with criticism pouring in from supporters – but they were able to enjoy themselves, with Reading well beaten.
Spurs get job done as England shines
England’s arrival in January has no doubt played a significant part in Tottenham’s survival.
She has scored nine goals in the league since a British-record move from Chelsea, and her stature has grown each week, strengthening her argument to earn a recall to the Lionesses squad ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Her goalscoring efficiency has been one of the most pleasing aspects of Tottenham’s season, which has otherwise underwhelmed following last year’s fifth-placed finish.
The striker was given a standing ovation when she was substituted in the second half and supporters were on their feet at full-time to celebrate the long overdue confirmation of their safety.
Attention must now turn to the future as Tottenham look to recover the promising signs they showed last season – and that starts with naming a permanent manager.
- 22SpencerBooked at 84mins
- 5BartripBooked at 39mins
- 14Bizet IldhusøySubstituted forIwabuchiat 80′minutes
- 24SpenceSubstituted forPercivalat 80′minutes
- 23AyaneSubstituted forNazat 69′minutes
- 25SummanenSubstituted forGrahamat 45′minutes
- 19EnglandSubstituted forKarczewskaat 85′minutes
- 16Mayi KithSubstituted forBrysonat 69′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 14CooperBooked at 57minsSubstituted forHendrixat 78′minutes
- 37PrimmerSubstituted forRoseat 60′minutes
- 11WadeSubstituted forMooreat 45′minutesBooked at 49mins
- 51TroelsgaardSubstituted forHarriesat 45′minutes
Match ends, Tottenham Hotspur Women 4, Reading Women 1.
Second Half ends, Tottenham Hotspur Women 4, Reading Women 1.
Attempt missed. Kit Graham (Tottenham Hotspur Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mana Iwabuchi.
Attempt missed. Kit Graham (Tottenham Hotspur Women) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ashleigh Neville with a cross.
Corner, Reading Women. Conceded by Molly Bartrip.
Faye Bryson (Reading Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Mana Iwabuchi (Tottenham Hotspur Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Faye Bryson (Reading Women).
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match because of an injury Brooke Hendrix (Reading Women).
Foul by Nikola Karczewska (Tottenham Hotspur Women).
Jade Moore (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur Women. Nikola Karczewska replaces Bethany England.
Attempt missed. Faye Bryson (Reading Women) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.
Rebecca Spencer (Tottenham Hotspur Women) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt missed. Brooke Hendrix (Reading Women) header from very close range is just a bit too high. Assisted by Emma Mukandi with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Reading Women. Conceded by Kerys Harrop.
Attempt blocked. Deanne Rose (Reading Women) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Foul by Amy Turner (Tottenham Hotspur Women).
Deanne Rose (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the attacking half.