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Reading 2-3 (aet) Tottenham

Reading and Tottenham had played out two draws in the league, so it's no surprise that it took an extra half hour to find a winner.

Without Fishlock, who returned to America after the West Ham match (not out of shame, it was always supposed to be that way), The Royals altered formation. James started alone between the lines in a 4-1-4-1 with Emma Harries up front. Bethan Roberts came in at right back to allow Harding to play further forward on that right-hand side.

The youngsters had a fairly tough outing. Harries has a tendency to run toward the ball, rather than making more intelligent runs. It means she often ends up in other players' way and culminated with her running clearly offside when she had the opportunity to effectively be played clean through. Before half-time, she also had the opportunity to beat the last player and pull across to Williams. The Tottenham player made a good block, but she shouldn't have been afforded the opportunity. 

Roberts gets dragged inside from the right tracking the player, and then completely loses her bearings

The issue with Roberts was actually quite similar but on defence, with her getting dragged out of position in relation to where possession was. Her almost-horror moment came around the hour mark. She pushed centrally to track the run then ended up completely lost as to where she should be positioned - leaving a Spurs player rushing through the middle, completely unmarked. On that occasion, Moloney bailed her out.

This wasn't the only time a striker managed to get in behind Cooper, who didn't seem to have a full awareness of what was about her

As with the game at Manchester City, Reading largely had Moloney to thank for keeping them in the game. She made a couple of big saves to keep the score at 2-2. Not that it was only the youngsters she rescued. Cooper had issues with players running behind her on a couple of occasions. That seems to show a lack of awareness of what's around her, but also poor communication from her teammates to make her aware of the situation.

Cooper was also the main culprit in Spurts equaliser, as her poor pass out of defence was pounced upon by Kit Graham. Bartrip had to bring her down and the referee, despite Tottenham being two-on-one and bearing down on goal, called for the free-kick on the edge of the D.  No issue for Alanna Kennedy, who scored directly from the set-piece.

Fara Williams was involved in most of the afternoon's goals. She had opened the scoring with an exquisite 30-yard finish over the keeper, whose clearance had hit Harries and ricocheted off to the veteran. 

In the second half, there was a manic minute where both teams found the back of the net. Initially, Tottenham got down the side of The Royals. Rachel Williams pulled the ball back to the corner of the box, but Fara Williams managed to intervene. Alas, she overplayed and R Williams managed to steal the ball, and exquisitely curl into the far corner. Fbref doesn't collect xG for the FA Cup but I imagine we're not talking about a great deal for either of Spurs normal-time goals.

The correct Williams helped make up for things seconds later though. A Spurs throw was nodded down to her, and she managed to pass through the legs of her marker to Rachel Rowe. Rowe's runs with the ball have become one of Reading's driving forces this season. She headed diagonally across the pitch, just creeping into the area level with the edge of the six-yard box on the left, and managed to slide her shot past three Spurs players and into the far corner. Perfect placement, and ever becoming more integral to the side.

In the inevitable extra time period it only took one more goal to settle the game. James tried to find Williams in the final third but Ashleigh Neville cut the ball out and immediately set off forward, facing no resistance. Those in midfield couldn't get back in time, and Woodham decided not to come across. The ball carrier chipped a pass that Bartrip couldn't cut out, and Jessica Naz picked her spot past Moloney.

Reading probably should have had a penalty at the end of extra time, but didn't do enough to get anything out of the game. There were some positives. The 4-1-4-1 provides more defensive solidity wide, something they've struggled with this year, and also gives extra options for balls into the channel, which The Royals did use in the opening half especially.

Realistically the FA Cup was the last avenue Reading had to put a stamp on this season. With Fishlock gone, Williams announcing her retirement, and James departing for America over summer, Chambers may find this an ideal situation to experiment.


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