41 min There’s an impressive authority to Chelsea’s play, with and without the ball. Ingle sprays a superb crossfield pass out to Charles on the right. She confidently beats Woodham and tries to pick out Kirby, who is tackled by Fishlock. The ball runs back towards Charles, whose snapshot is accidentally blocked by her teammate Kerr.
39 min A half chance for Reading. Harding’s flick-on releases Fishlock on the left side of the area. She tries to screw a cross back towards James on the edge of the area, but it’s slightly overhit and Chelsea clear.
36 min: Chance for Chelsea! Kerr breaks through on goal in the inside-left channel. She could shoot herself but tries to give a hat-trick goal to Kirby, who has the ball taken off her toes by Mitchell. That’s twice in this match that Kerr has tried to find Kirby when she was in a good position to score.
34 min A quiet spell in the game. We haven’t seen possession stats but I suspect Reading have had more of the ball. This hasn’t been the mismatch that the scoreline might suggest.
30 min Reading have played pretty well in the first half hour. The difference has been Chelsea’s quality in the final third, and particularly the ruthless finishing of Fran Kirby.
28 min Harding runs onto a long pass from James and tries an imaginative, booming lob over Berger from 25 yards. It drifts just wide of the far post, though Berger probably had it covered.
25 min After more good play from Kirby, who is having a stormer against her old club, Reiten’s tame shot is easily saved by Moloney.
GOAL! Reading 0-2 Chelsea (Kirby 23)
Twenty seconds after hitting the post, Fran Kirby gets her second goal. She intercepted Mitchell’s pass into midfield and set off towards the Reading area. Mitchell tried to wrestle her off the ball but Kirby was strong enough to resist the challenge and calm enough to slide the ball past Moloney. That’s another excellent finish.
23 min: Kirby hits the post! That was a spectacular effort. She received a short pass from Andersson, turned and rifled a rising shot that beat Moloney and smacked off the far post.
21 min “Hi Rob,” says Redmond Grimes. “Chelsea leaving out Ji is always a mystery for me. She is the most creative player in the WSL.”
I’m sure she’s just being rested. Chelsea have a lot of fixtures coming up, including a humdinger against the leaders Manchester United next weekend.
19 min Reading win their first corner. Fara Williams drives it towards Fishlock in the D and Kirby intercepts. The ball goes back to Williams, whose cross drifts over the bar.
17 min There hasn’t been a side-on replay, never mind VAR graphics, but the angles we have seen suggest Kirby was offside.
GOAL! Reading 0-1 Chelsea (Kirby 16)
Chelsea are in front! A hooked clearance was headed on by Kerr towards Kirby, who looked offside but was allowed to continue. She scurried into the area and moved smoothly around Moloney before clipping the ball into the empty net.
12 min Chelsea are starting to look dangerous, particularly on the counter-attack. Reading have had plenty of the ball but need to be careful when they lose possession.
8 min Kerr’s shot is well saved by Moloney, though the flag had gone up for offside. I’m not that sure that was the correct decision, not that it matters.
5 min Kerr’s low cutback towards Kirby is put behind for a corner by Fishlock. That was a vital interception, without which Kirby could probably have scored.
4 min Reading have straight brightly. Williams played a nice through ball towards Harding, who is flagged offside. She miscontrolled the ball anyway.
1 min Peep peep! Reading kick off from left to right. They are in blue and white; Chelsea are wearing their ember glow (sic) third kit. There’s been a late change to the Chelsea team: Hannah Blundell has replaced Maren Mjelde at right-back.
The teams in (probable) formation
Reading (4-4-2) Moloney; Leine, Cooper, Mitchell, Woodham; Williams, James, Fishlock, Eikeland; Harding, Harries.
Substitutes: Bartrip, Bruton, Carter, Rowe, Skeels, Roberts Stewart.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Berger; Blundell, Bright, Ingle, Andersson; Cuthbert, Leupolz; Charles, Kirby, Reiten; Kerr.
Substitutes: Telford, England, Ji, Eriksson, Fleming, Harder.
Referee Abigail Byrne.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Reading v Chelsea from the Madejski Stadium. For a variety of reasons – Covid, injuries, trips to Dubai – this the only WSL match being played this weekend. It’s a chance for the champions Chelsea, who were in fine form before the winter break, to move above Arsenal and into second place.
Emma Hayes knows that Reading are awkward opponents. They’ve already drawn at home to Manchester City this season, and the leaders Manchester United needed a late goal win at the Madejski last month. Whatever happens, at least we have a football match to watch and discuss; it’s better for the soul than arguing about trips to Dubai.
Kick off 2pm.