by Andrew Crawshaw
What a difference in weather from Chelsea last Sunday, an almost cloudless sunny day and surprisingly warm for the time of year. Plus a big bonus for me the train system was running normally so I could get to Borehamwood easily from home in Southeast London (only one change).
Catering report – I had my daughter and two granddaughters with me, one had brought her own sandwiches, the rest of us queued up at the Lunch Box inside the ground. One Jumbo sausage with onions, one Frankfurter hot dog (no onions) and one cheeseburger with onions plus two teas and a bottled orange. The bottle of orange had to have the top removed due to new ground rules – as if that would make any difference if anyone was to throw it!. Anyway all the food was eagerly eaten and met with full approval. We cursed not having the top for the orange when we knocked it over when it was under our seats!
My guess in the match preview was wrong as Beth Mead started – we also seemed to start our with a back three rather than the 4-1-2-3 that I had expected, but as our manager, Joe Montemurro said, formal team layouts are just for journalists and mean little on the pitch.
We started with:-
Leah Williamson, Dominique Bloodworth, Emma Mitchell
Leah Walti, Dominique Van de Donk
Katie McCabe, Jordan Nobbs (captain)
Lisa Evans, Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead
Subs – Sari Van Veenendaal (gk), Louise Quinn (CB), Jessica Samuelsson (RB/MF), Ava Kuyken (MF)
Reading started with
Maloney (gk), Jane, Williams, Pearce, Furnesss, Allen, Davison, Bruton, Harding, Chaplen and Potter
Subs – Laws (gk), Bartrip, Estcourt and Woodham
I said in my preview that last season we had a lot of trouble in breaking down Reading in the first three games we had against them. We won one by a single goal, drew one and lost one by a single goal, the final game was a more comfortable 3 – 1 win so I was expecting quite a tough game.
I really wasn’t expecting us to start as quickly as we did. In the third minute Beth Mead got the ball wide right and managed to get enough space to produce a cross right onto the head of Miedema who put a looping header into the top right hand corner of the goal. TO THE ARSENAL ONE-NIL.
Two minutes later it was nearly two nil as Miedema was put through only to be denied by a good save from Moloney in the Reading goal. We weren’t to be denied for long though as Nobbs persistence in pressing Reading inside their own area forced a turnover which she beautifully put into the back of the net for TWO NIL.
A minute later Reading could easily have been down to ten, another through ball with Miedema seemingly through again but she was brought down by Remi Allen with a cynical challenge. Was it a last player foul? Without a video replay it was difficult to be sure, I thought it was and the player should have had a red card, I’m sure the referee only showed a yellow (but it isn’t shown as a caution on the BBC, Arsenal or Reading websites, so maybe I was wrong).
To be fair to Abigail Marriott, the referee, that was about the only thing I thought she got wrong all game. For the rest she was excellent, absolutely on top of things throughout and a credit to the game.
In the 10th minute it was nearly three as Miedema’s shot went just wide right. The first 15 minute period finished with more Arsenal pressure but no more goals.
The second 15 minute period was somewhat more even as Reading started to get to grips with our movement and high press. Reading had their first chance in the 23rd minute but a wayward shot went very wide right. In the 24th minute Beth Mead nearly fashioned a fabulous goal twisting every which way in the area to try and gain a shooting opportunity but was crowded out by three or four defenders.
The final 15 minutes of the first half was more even. In Min 39 Pauline Peyraud-Magnin made her first save of the match when she made a terrific stop from Farah Williams who was through one on one. A great save but Farah was probably cursing that she didn’t make more of the opportunity.
In minute 43 Remi Allen went down holding her hamstring, she was able to continue with it heavily strapped up but two minutes of time were added on. In the second of those minutes Beth Mead made it 3 – 0, the ball was passed to her on the Left wing by Miedema, Beth cut inside and drilled the ball across goal to the right hand side, unstoppable and TO THE ARSENAL THREE NIL.
Any hope of a Reading comeback was totally extinguished when five minutes after the restart Katie McCabe rampaged down the left wing and put in a perfect cross right to the foot of Miedema who made absolutely no mistake for her second and our fourth. Three minutes later it really should have been five, we left the Reading keeper stranded but somehow failed to get the ball into the net – a real let-off.
Reading made their first substitution in the 55th minute with Allen being replaced by Bartrip, despite the strapping she was clearly being impeded by the first half injury.
We made a substitution in Min 64, Dominique Bloodworth being replaced by Louise Quinn following a clash of heads. The referee spotted it and stopped the game immediately exactly as she should – as I say she had a good game and I would quite happily see her in charge of any Arsenal game in the future.
Minute 76 we made it five nil, Danielle Van de Donk stretching to turn in a cross from the left hand side into the right corner of the goal.
Reading responded by replacing Davison and Chaplen with Estcourt and Woodham, we also replaced Beth Mead with Jessica Samuelsson. With six minutes to go Jordan Nobbs was withdrawn to allow youngster Ava Kuyken a few more match minutes.
Vivianne Miedema who had caused Reading trouble all game was played through yet again in the closing minutes and showed why she is rated so highly (and Farah Williams how to do it) by beating Moloney easily in the resulting one v one. Her third and Arsenal’s sixth.
Final score Arsenal 6 Reading 0
Here is a link to the BBC highlights Highlights: Arsenal Women score six against Reading
Miedema has now scored 21 goals in her 20 matches for the club. Now she has recovered fully from her foot injury she is really showing why we were so keen to have her at the club. Still only 22 years old a fabulous prospect and two league hat-tricks so far this season.
There was a good crowd of 1,586 who had (for the most part) enjoyed another absolutely dominant Arsenal performance. Still too early to seriously consider winning the league at this point – we are only a quarter of he way through the season, but so far we have beaten everyone we have come up against and we can’t do more than that.
In the other matches, Chelsea failed to score again as they drew at Birmingham, Man City matched our score away at Brighton, Bristol had a late 2 – 1 against bottom club Yeovil, Liverpool won 1 – 0 against West Ham and Everton were the 11th club and so had no match
Here is the League table :-
Next Sunday we are away at Bristol with a 15:00 kickoff.