WSL 2018-19 season preview: Reading
Credit: Joerdeli Photography | Daniela Porcelli

WSL 2018-19 season preview: Reading

Can the Royals go one or two better this season and break into the top two?

Sophie Lawson

From their first season in the top flight that was all about safety, last season was when Kelly Chambers announced her intentions to the rest of the league. Putting together a strong and experienced side, Reading found their groove and excelled to finish in fourth, with more recruitment over the summer, the coming season promises to be another step in the right direction.

Ins and outs

Saying goodbye to long-standing Royals Harriet Scott and Melissa Fletcher as well as Mary Earps and Kirsty Linnett, the squad grew more than in depleted.

Former Blues, Remi Allen, Jo Potter and Jade Moore all signed new deals as did captain Kirsty Pearce (nee McGee), Charlie Estcourt and last year’s signings Rachel Furness and Brooke Chaplen. Sophie Howard was brought in from TSG Hoffenheim to beef up the defence with Maz Pacheco signed from the Belles. In attack, Chambers brought in four-time league winner Gemma Davison and young gun, Millie Farrow.

Bigger and better

Tipped as the team to watch last season, the Royals needed time to come up to speed with each other before finding their stride. Veteran Fara Williams returned to long-lost top form as Allen had her own revival, Furness and Chaplen fast became key members of the team having been signed from Sunderland.

Building on the strong defensive foundation that had benefited them so well in their first term, it was Williams, Chaplen and Allen who gave the Royals what they needed in attack. Finishing the season with the third best goals for tally (40), it was clear that Chambers had struck the perfect balance in her squad, neither defence nor attack too heavy relied upon.

Again, the recruitment from the Royals as been spot on, regarded as one of the up and coming English defenders, there’s no question Pacheco will benefit from full-time football. So too Farrow, who – providing she can avoid any more long-term injuries – should be able to tap back into some fine form. Most promising however, looks to be the signing of Davison, utilised more off the bench in her last years at Chelsea, the determined attacker has already made her mark at Adams Park.

Taking points off of the top two last season, there is no question the Royals have found their tempo in the league, respectful but not fearful of any side they face, they could yet be the team to upset the apple cart.