BY SAM AVERY
Reading made it three wins from three in all competitions with a 4-0 victory over FA Women’s Championship side Charlton Athletic in their opening Group D match of the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup.
Danielle Carter broke the deadlock midway through the first half before the Barclays FA WSL heavyweights turned on the style in the second period, with a late strike from Brooke Chaplen after a Natasha Harding brace adding gloss to the scoreline.
The home side’s passing throughout the contest was fluent, but the hard work off the ball displayed by the visitors limited the Royals to very little goalmouth action in the early stages.
Chaplen twice missed the target inside the opening 20 minutes, having been restricted to efforts from outside the area.
But the resolute nature of Charlton’s defensive work was eventually undone in the 25th minute when Carter raced through to finish smartly across goal, having latched onto Jess Fishlock’s through ball.
Katie Startup somehow kept out Amalie Eikeland’s flick-on header which ricocheted off Deanna Cooper as Reading pushed for a second goal before half-time.
And the Royals had a flurry of early second-half chances as Chaplen blazed over from ten yards and Carter squandered a decent chance from a tight angle on the hour mark.
Substitute Harding managed to seal the points for Reading, scoring twice within four minutes of coming on.
The Wales international, who usually plays as a full-back for Kelly Chambers’ side, entered the field playing as part of a front three and finished well in quick succession with a curled effort into the far corner, before a low-drilled strike across goal 20 minutes from time.
Chaplen also managed to get the goal she was craving with a deflected strike on 90 minutes, increasing the margin of victory to four for Reading and making it a night to forget for the visitors.
Charlton defender Grace Coombs said: “Generally we’re pleased, but it’s just difficult to say that you’re pleased with the performance when you’ve lost 4-0.
“We’re disappointed that this game was quite similar to the Liverpool one when we conceded a single goal in the first half, but then having defended quite well, there are small moments that we’re just not concentrating for.
“When you’re playing good teams you can’t afford to switch off, and I think we have a couple of times tonight. The good teams punish you when you do that.
“We were still trying to score at the end and we still feel there are positives to take. We just need to be better when we’ve got the ball and in our moments in front of goal.
“That’s something that we will work on with a weekend off now, which is nice for us to regroup before we’re back in league action.”
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