Chelsea Ladies dropped points for the first time this season as they were held to a 2-2 draw against Reading Women.
Chelsea conceded their first goals of the season against a determined Reading side. The Blues looked to have come from behind to win after goals from Karen Carney and Eni Aluko cancelled out Remi Allen’s opener, but Magdalena Eriksson’s own goal in stoppage time gave Reading a well-deserved point.
Chelsea have been unstoppable so far this season. In just four league games, they have scored 19 goals and conceded none. Reading have made a good start to the season themselves and would prove a tough test for unbeaten Chelsea.
Reading keeper Mary Earps had plenty to do in the early stages of the match. Drew Spence found space and took aim from a tight angle but Earps made sure her left-footed drive didn’t end up in the bottom corner. Gemma Davison put Fran Kirby through on goal but her shot was brilliantly kept out by the legs of Earps.
Reading had a half chance through Fara Williams but her volley was wide. Williams scored straight from kick-off against gormer side Arsenal in the Women’s Super League Cup last week, so she certainly isn’t low on confidence.
Chelsea continued to threaten but Reading were able to contain them and force them to shoot from distance as captain Katie Champman’s effort from 30 yards sailed over the bar.
Against the run of play, Reading took the lead in the 35th minute through Remi Allen. Chelsea just couldn’t get the ball out of their box and Reading took full advantage. Williams found Allen with a superb backheel and Allen finished with ease from close range for her third goal of the season. For the first time this season, Chelsea had to pick the ball out of their own net.
Brooke Chaplen was put through on goal and then flagged offside and received a yellow card after kicking the ball away in frustration. Chaplen was involved again as Reading looked to double their advantage. She charged down the left wing and played it to Williams whose shot was deflected and then gathered by Chelsea keeper Hedvig Lindahl. Chelsea were trailing for the first time this season as the half-time whistle blew.
Chelsea made a change at half-time as they looked to get back into the game with Crystal Dunn coming on in place of Maria Thorisdottir.
Jo Potter put in a great ball to the back post from a corner. Rachel Furness’s direct header forced Lindahl to parry it away for another corner which Chelsea cleared.
Reading were doing a good job of frustrating Chelsea until the 56th minute. Carney stepped up to take a free-kick and got it over the wall and past Earps to equalise for Chelsea. Earps had done well up to that point but she was powerless to stop Carney’s stunning free-kick.
Just minutes later, Reading had a free-kick of their own. Williams’ effort from 25 yards out crashed against the post and Chelsea went on the counter-attack but Spence’s shot was collected by Earps.
With the scores level, Chelsea made another change. Drew Spence made way for Eni Aluko. Emma Hayes’ side nearly took the lead in the 70th minute. Davison stormed into the box and almost found Kirby with a low cross but Kirsty Pearce intercepted.
Lindahl gifted Reading a golden opportunity to get back in front. She punched the ball right into the path of Lauren Bruton who scuffed her shot wide. Given the opportunity, Bruton should have hit the target at least.
Davison fed the ball to Kirby who found Aluko and Aluko sidefooted in from the edge of the box to score her fifth goal of the season. Immediately after playing a big part in Chelsea’s second goal, Davison was substituted for Hannah Blundell in Chelsea’s final change.
Furness was so close to equalising for Reading but her effort on goal was cleared off the line by Magdelena Eriksson. Reading then made their first change with Kirsty Linnett coming on for Williams. Carney went in search of another goal from a free-kick but it was inches wide. Reading made another chance as Becky Jane came on in place of Harriet Scott.
Chaplen had a great chance after being played through but Lindahl came out and blocked her shot to maintain Chelsea’s lead. Mandy van den Berg came on for Pearce in Reading’s final change. Goalscorer Allen should have had two but her effort didn’t have enough power behind it and Lindahl saved with ease.
Just when it looked like Chelsea had secured the three points, an own goal from Eriksson in stoppage time gave Reading the point their performance deserved. Potter’s free-kick was hopeful at best but Eriksson headed it into her own net. Devastation for Chelsea but delight for Reading.
If Manchester City beat Bristol City, Chelsea will slip to second place. Reading are fourth as things stand but a win for Arsenal could see them move down a place into fifth.
Reading Women: Earps, Scott (Jane 81), Williams (Linnett 79), Bartrip, Pearce (van den Berg 88), Furness, Allen, Bruton, Chaplen, Potter, Rowe
Unused substitutes: Moloney, Green
Chelsea Ladies: Lindahl; Bright, Flaherty, Eriksson; Thorisdottir (Dunn 45), Mjelde, Chapman, Davison (Blundell 76); Carney; Kirby, Spence (Aluko 66)
Unused substitutes: Spencer, Cuthbert, Ji, Bachmann,