By Lloyd Webb at The Hive
Arsenal began their defence of the Continental Cup with a convincing 3-1 win against Reading at The Hive on Saturday. The Gunners dominated the opening 45 minutes, but could not make their chances pay in a fiercely-contested fixture. They raced out of the blocks after the restart and were soon ahead, courtesy of Vicky Losada’s cool finish from inside the area. Fara Williams made it two with a well-taken penalty, before adding a third with a delightful chip from outside the box. Reading pulled a goal back through Emma Follis, but Arsenal remained in control to advance to the next round.
Setting The Scene
Pedro Martinez Losa made five changes to his side following the midweek draw with Birmingham City in the Women’s Super League. Emma Byrne made her first appearance of the season, while Jordan Nobbs started in midfield after recovering from a hamstring injury picked up on international duty.
Elsewhere, former Gunners Molly Bartrip and Lauren Bruton featured for the hosts.
It was a frustrating start for the four-time Continental Cup champions, as Reading's compact shape meant chances were few and far between during the opening exchanges. The first oppourtunity of the game came in the 17th minute when Alex Scott’s venomous volley forced Molly Earps into a fine save. The Gunners continued to apply pressure and it almost paid off moments later, but three saves in quick succession from Earps denied Danielle Van de Donk twice and then Katie McCabe. Arsenal remained in the driving seat up until the break, but were unable to convert their possession into goals.
Losa’s side came flying out of the blocks and were soon rewarded when Losada capitalised on a loose ball in the box and made no mistake from a few yards out. Before the travelling fans had finished celebrating, Williams had doubled the visitors' advantage with a powerful penalty after Van de Donk had been tripped in the box. Williams was on target again 15 minutes later, this time with a fantastic chip from outside the area after Van de Donk had found her in space. The hosts immediately responded and pulled a goal back as Follis’ curling finish found the bottom corner, but Arsenal held on to their lead to book their place in the next round.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.