The scoreline 4-0 does reflect the 2nd half of the game but not the first half. It was a game of 2 halves. The game was pretty even in the first half and dominated by Arsenal in the 2nd half. In the previous cup game between those two sides, it was a one way traffic. This time the first half was very even. Both side created chances and actually kicking each other as the young referee had lost control of the games. Many players escaped bookings and therefore carried on fouling the opposition.
Arsenal were missing captain Frances Steele who was unavailable through school commitment. In her place came first team center forward Freda Ayisi. The team welcomed back Taome Oliver who had an ankle injury for a while. The tactical set up was the usual 4-3-3. First start for Hollie Augusts since she had signed from Watford Ladies.
Augustus, Slater Kiely Sampson Cowley, Ayisi Oliver Stojko-down, Fatuga Clarke Humphrey was the starting 11.
Subs used : Hassall for Fatuga, Mills for Ayisi, Harbour-Brown for Kiely. the right winger was subbed twice funnily enough.
For some reasons, this system did not work as many long balls were sent to go behind Reading’s defence but did not trouble them at all. It was also exposing the defence as the midfield 3 were not balanced and tight enough. It was not a surprise that half time was reached with a 0-0 scoreline.
Credit to the coaching staff, they changed to a 4-4-2 that led to a better and rational pitch occupation. If you control the space better, it is easier to implement the gameplan. With Fatuga and Oliver in the wings and Humphrey supporting Clarke Arsenal played higher on the pitch. The wind also helped them to peg Reading in their half of the pitch.
Oliver scored the first from a close range shot on 53′. Ayisi made a strong run from the right side of the penalty area and finished with a powerful shot 62′ Humphrey made a delightful cross from the right that ended up top corner 75′ and assisted Clarke for a tap-in 82′
Pedro Losa was there and was happy to chat about the team. A very approachable person. It was a change from the previous manager, I am not sure she would have been willing to hear a fan wanting a reserve player who plays on the wing to be played as a second striker or a playmaker for the first team…
In the end, a 4-0 win and currently top of League and also the development league group stage. Unbeaten as well and the team with many 16 and 17 years old girls is developing the right way.