BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea drew, got a point but they lost on penalties, but still top their Conti Cup group.
Yep, makes no sense but on a bitterly cold night at Kingsmeadow, it was a welcome distraction from the poor quality of performance from the west London outfit.
Reading finish second in the group thanks to the extra point gained by winning the penalty shootout 4-2 after a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes – defender Deanna Cooper scored a worldly to cancel out Reading’s Jo Potter’s accurate free-kick.
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes was bemused by what she called the “Americanisation” of the game – when it comes to getting a point for a draw, but an extra one for winning the penalty shootout.
And she was spot on.
While there was constant misplaced passes, lack of imagination, and general apparent apathy from Chelsea, they still should have won comfortably.
The Blues were totally dominate in the opening exchanges – missing several good chances, notably from Jess Carter and Erin Cuthbert.
But they were outdone on 15 minutes by a straightforward free-kick, 25 yards out by Jo Potter. The ball arrowed in to the corner of the net, goalkeeper Carly Telford, was unable to get her outstretched hand to the effort.
Chelsea responded calmly but twice missed efforts to level the score – Guro Reiten and Drew Spence the culpable players.
Reading goalkeeper Rachel Laws was called into action on 24 minutes and successfully parried away a Beth England power blaster from just inside the Reading penalty area.
The Blues then fell apart for the best part of 15 minutes allowing the visitors to take full control of the game.
On 33 minutes, Angharad James tried her luck with an audacious strike from 35 yards. The ball sailed past Telford, but smacked off the angle of crossbar and far post.
Reading’s Jade Moore entered ref Paul Johnson’s book with two minutes of the first half left.
Reading replaced Lisa-Marie Utland for Amalie Eikeland at half-time, Chelsea kept the same starting 11.
Telford was called into action three minutes after the restart – she finger-tipped a deflected Fara Williams free-kick over her crossbar.
A snatch shot by Spence on 50 sailed high and wide over Law’s goal.
Deanna Cooper was next up to try and breach the Reading rearguard – her pile driver forced an acrobatic save from Laws who was in action seconds later on 56 minutes, hacking away a Spence close-range header.
Cooper would not be daunted in her desire to shoot whenever she was within her range. And on 66 minutes, she let fly with another trademark long-ranger – this time, it arrowed like a targeted missile and crashed into the back of Reading’s goal to level the score.
Emma Hayes made a double substitution, Blundell and Ji off with Jonna Andersson and Maren Mjelde coming on with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Sophie Ingle crashed another long-ranger onto the crossbar as the Blues went in search of the winner but it failed to materialise.
And so it went to penalties. Reading were impeccably while England and Cooper missed.
Teams: Chelsea, Telford, Blundell, Ingle, carter, England, Ji, Reiten, Eriksson, Cooper, Cuthbert, Spence
Subs: Berger, Mjelde, Bachmann, Andersson, Fleming, Wardlaw
Reading: Laws, Levine, Pacheco, Williams, James, Allen, Marie-Utland, Moore, Chapman, Potter, Howard
Subs: Moloney, Eikeland, Farrow, Bennink, Reynolds, Quirk
Referee Paul Johnson