WSL: How Reading turned their season around

Reading are sixth in the WSL after 10 games

Reading were pointless, goalless and bottom of the table after four Women’s Super League games this season – now they are four points off a Champions League qualification spot and undefeated in six matches.

Kelly Chambers’ side saw off defending champions Chelsea before Christmas in one of the shocks of the season.

They carried that momentum into the new year with victory against Leicester last weekend and they will be hoping to do the same against league leaders Arsenal this Sunday.

Chambers said they expected a “slow” start to the season because of a high turnover of players in the summer. They “needed time to gel” but, after four straight defeats, the Reading boss knew something had to change.

In their fifth match, against Aston Villa, they switched to a 4-4-2 formation from 4-3-3 and it paid off as they came away with a 3-0 win – the first of their six-game unbeaten run.

“You always have your ideas going into the season. One thing we’re not afraid to do is change things when we think we need to,” Chambers tells BBC Sport.

“After that fourth game we came together as a group and decided we would change shape. We wanted to take some risks.

“Players were fully on board with it. We identified a window from the Aston Villa game to the Chelsea game as a real period we could compete.

“We built great momentum. When you go into games like that you always think ‘what can we get out of this one?’ We did that on the pitch.”

Since the win over Villa, Reading have beaten Birmingham City, Brighton, Chelsea and Tottenham, and drawn with West Ham. Striker Natasha Dowie has scored three goals in five games and Chambers was named Manager of the Month in December.

‘We have our own culture’

Kelly Chambers says there is a “family-feel” at Reading

Reading lost several key players in the summer, including midfielders Angharad James and Fara Williams, and defender Molly Bartrip.

Chambers said Covid also “had a bit of an impact” on finances so it was crucial they recruited well.

Former AC Milan striker Dowie, forward Deanne Rose and defender Gemma Evans are among those who came in and have made a big impact.

“I think the recruitment we did in the summer…

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