Chelsea come behind to beat Reading as Kerr makes instant impact

Sam Kerr on her Chelsea debut
Sam Kerr on her Chelsea debut

Sam Kerr made an instant impact on debut as Chelsea came from behind to beat Reading.

Kerr, the all-time top scorer in the American National Women's Soccer League and Australian W-League, assisted Beth England’s opener, was involved in Guro Reiten’s second and was fouled by Reading’s goalkeeper Grace Moloney, who was sent off.

Fara Williams had opened the scoring for Reading before Kerr stole the show, while Erin Cuthbert sealed the win for unbeaten Chelsea with fifteen minutes to go.

Chelsea started strongly, Australian international Kerr getting in behind twice in the opening ten minutes, only to blaze over and then be denied by Sophie Howard’s tackle.

But Reading took the lead in the 15th minute, as Chelsea failed to clear their lines and Williams rifled in from the edge of the box.

Moments later, Reading were down to ten as Moloney came charging out to tackle Kerr and fouled her, drawing the red card.

Substitute goalkeeper Rachael Laws was forced into top saves to deny England and Kerr and Ji fired wide as Chelsea took control of the game.

And the equaliser they deserved came five minutes before half-time, as Kerr’s delightful back-heel freed England, who rounded Laws to slot home.

Chelsea should have scored in the 57th minute as Reading were forced into multiple goal-line clearances, and Millie Bright’s header was clawed out by Laws.

Kerr broke in on goal in the 64th minute, her shot was saved and Reiten volleyed the rebound superbly into the corner from range.

Cuthbert then followed in after England’s point-blank header was saved to secure the points. Millie Farrow had a great chance for Reading but was denied by Ann-Katrin Berger.

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Chelsea new signing Sam Kerr said: “I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’m hoping to get as many games as I can in before the Olympic qualifiers start. I’m still finding my feet in England but it’s been quality working with Beth, she’s a great player.

“I’m pleased to get an assist but I need to sharpen up on my shooting. It’s freezing in England but I’m enjoying it. I’ve settled in as best I can in nine days.

“I like the WSL, I like that it’s in this compact stadium where the crowd was lively. The girls have made me feel really comfortable.”

Reading boss Kelly Chambers said: “It was frustrating. We were on top for the 20 minutes that we had with 11 players on the pitch and we went 1-0 up.

“We were more comfortable but the red card was a killer for us. We were causing them a lot of problems. And when we went behind we knew it would be difficult from there.

“We were perhaps unlucky not to be 1-0 up at half-time and that would have been a different second-half. But to play with ten against Chelsea is always going to be tough.

“We asked Grace to play a little bit higher but she’s been reckless and made the wrong decision. It’s a case of the decision has been made and it was the right decision from the referee.

“Rachael Laws came on and made some unbelievable saves. She really stepped up to the mark and now she has three games to try and fight for the number one spot.”

Chelsea (4-4-2): Ann-Katrin Berger; Maren Mjelde, Millie Bright, Magdalena Eriksson, Jonna Andersson (c); Drew Spence, Sophie Ingle, So-Yun Ji, Guro Reiten; Bethany England, Sam Kerr

Substitutes: Erin Cuthbert on for Ingle 62 Hannah Blundell on for Kerr 77, Jamie-Lee Napier on for Mjelde 89

Substitutes not used: Emily Orman, Jess Carter, Deanna Cooper, Emily Murphy

Goals: England 40, Reiten 64, Cuthbert 75

Reading (4-4-2): Grace Moloney; Rachel Rowe, Jo Potter, Sophie Howard, Maz Pacheco; Jade Moore, Angharad James, Remi Allen, Fara Williams ©; Brooke Chaplen, Amalie Eikeland

Substitutes: Rachael Laws for Chaplen 19, Natasha Harding for Williams 69, Millie Farrow for James 82

Substitutes not used: Molly Bartrip, Lisa-Marie Utland, Maxime Bennink, Kiera Skeels

Goals: Williams 15

Bookings: Allen 49

Red Cards: Moloney 16

Referee: Stacey Pearson

Attendance: 2,828