Reading 0-1 Arsenal: Stina Blackstenius extends the visitors’ perfect start in the WSL

Stina Blackstenius
Stina Blackstenius’ strike was Arsenal’s 40th goal in their last 10 WSL games, conceding just twice along the way

Arsenal extended their perfect start to the Women’s Super League season by overcoming a stubborn Reading side to win their first away game of the campaign.

Stina Blackstenius expertly turned inside the penalty area to give the visitors the lead with a clinical finish in testing conditions at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

The Swede almost doubled Arsenal’s lead early in the second half when she hit the woodwork with a glancing header seconds after Katie McCabe had fired against the same post.

Reading goalkeeper Jackie Burns, making his top-flight debut, saved Kim Little’s penalty after a handball decision on Lily Woodham on the hour.

Keeper Manuela Zinsberger – who set a new WSL record with her eighth straight clean sheet – brilliantly denied Deanna Cooper and Natasha Dowie either side of Woodham curling a corner towards the outside of a post as the second- lower side threatened to equalise.

But Arsenal closed out the win and are behind Manchester United – who thrashed Brighton 4-0 earlier Sunday – on goal difference at the top of the table after three games.

Second-bottom Reading, who set a new attendance record of 3,611 for their women’s team, have lost all three of their opening matches.

Royals make Arsenal work to win

Reading have never beaten Arsenal in 13 attempts in the WSL and few would have predicted the threat they would pose after being cut open by one of the first attacks they faced.

Despite a lack of service for the willing runner Dowie in attack, the organization and energy of Kelly Chambers’ players was a feature of a determined display, seeing them almost peg Arsenal back and showing a marked improvement on their par 4- 0 defeats. in the showdown last season.

Most Royals fans would not have expected a positive result, but this was a performance that suggests their side can target points from their next game, at West Ham, and their host of bottom side Leicester after that.

“We said before this game that we’re going to get one or two chances – and if we don’t take them it could hurt us,” Chambers told Sky Sports.

“Unfortunately we didn’t quite take those chances. But we have the positives and we have to make sure we build on that performance.”

Eidevall praises Gunners ‘control’

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall said before kick-off that Lotte Wubben-Moy and Steph Catley could not be expected to perfectly emulate injured centre-back duo Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza, who are expected to be out for several weeks.

Across the eight club games Leah Williamson has missed since December 2021, Arsenal have lost more games than they have in the 20 in which the England captain has been involved.

Wubben-Moy was at fault when Cooper broke free inside the penalty area and drew a vital stop from Zinsberger, who was Arsenal’s savior on more than one occasion and saw Rachel Rowe’s header cleared off the line as Arsenal went nine league games without conceding .

“We created enough opportunities to score another goal,” Eidevall said. “When you only have one goal, it’s always going to be a bit more edgy in the last few minutes.

“We controlled it overall and it was well deserved. When we came out of their pressure, we could really see that everyone understood that we had to step up and intensity.”

A tricky trip to Lyon awaits in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Eidevall sure to learn more about whether his depleted back line can withstand sterner tests.


Reading women

Formation 4-3-3

  • 25Burns
  • 9Oakland
  • 14CooperBooked in 63 min
  • 5Evans
  • 3Another oneSubstituted forBrysonon 45′minutesBooked in 90 min
  • 37PrimerBooked in 41 minSubstituted forWadeon 74′minutes
  • 23Rowe
  • 27Vanhaevermaet
  • 12HarrySubstituted forWellingson 90+1′minutes
  • 10He wants
  • 28WoodhamBooked in 45 min


  • 2Bryson
  • 7Wellings
  • 11Wade
  • 17Caldwell
  • 18Jane
  • 30Poulter
  • 33Meadows-Tucson

Arsenal women

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Zinsberger
  • 26Wienroither
  • 3Wubben Moy
  • 7Catley
  • 15McCabeBooked in 61 minSubstituted forBeattieon 83′minutes
  • 10Small
  • 13WältiSubstituted forManumon 67′minutes
  • 11EdemaSubstituted forNobbson 66′minutes
  • 9Mead
  • 25Blackstenius
  • 19FordBooked in 64 minSubstituted forFaston 66′minutes


  • 5Beattie
  • 8Nobbs
  • 12Manum
  • 16Maritz
  • 17Fast
  • 18Marquese
  • 23Iwabuchi
  • 59Agyemang
  • 62Reid

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