Reading Women set out on the new Women’s Super League season on Friday ahead of an exciting campaign for the side.

They will be playing their home games at the Select Car Leasing Stadium and fans will be there to follow along.

Kelly Chambers will take her side up to Manchester for the season’s curtain raiser against Manchester United this coming Friday in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Below we take a closer look at the Royals side.

The Manager

Kelly Chambers has been with the Royals since 2007 where she joined as a player. After retiring in 2012, the former captain was appointed as director of women’s football at the club.

A spell as the first team manager followed where Chambers earned promotion to the second tier of the game. Jayne Ludlow then arrived at the club to take over from Chambers, who remained as director. Ludlow then left the club after a third placed finish to manage Wales with Chambers returning to the hot seat.

She showed her prowess earning promotion to the top tier winning the 2015 WSL2 title. A fourth-place finish in the 2017/18 Women’s Super League was the highest success of her tenure and she will be keen to recreate it this season after a move to the state-of-the-art facility at Bearwood ahead of this campaign.

The Captain

Natasha Harding will continue to captain the side and the Welsh international will look to step it up again this season.

A vocal midfielder, Harding has been used as a utility player over the last couple of years, filling in at right back as well as centre forward.

The new acquisitions should provide Harding with the opportunity to play in her natural wide position this year. A player that can score goals and provide assists, Harding will be pivotal to the Royals success once again.

Star Player

It was a season to remember for Rachel Rowe during the 2020/21 campaign. The midfielder started the season on the bench but soon proved her worth and earned a starting place.

Rowe was the top scorer last season from midfield and can play in either a defensive or attacking midfield role.

She has also covered right back while with the Royals. Another of the Welsh internationals at the club, Rowe can be a role model for the younger players breaking through as well as providing an important goalscoring asset in the centre of the park. She won’t stop running all game!

Young gun

Reading were desperately in need of a striker to arrive at the club after a season where chances went begging last year.

Emma Harries was called upon by Chambers to try and fill the role. The academy star caught the eyes of many oppositions’ fans and players with her aggressive style causing defenders problems in multiple games last year.

With the arrival of Natasha Dowie, Harries will be looking to learn and develop further to add senior goals to her game after her sole strike away at Bristol City last season.

New Faces

There have been six new arrivals in Berkshire at the time of writing. The defence has been strengthened by the additions of Faye Bryson and Gemma Evans from Bristol City.

Both join the Royals after leaving the side that were relegated from the WSL last season. Bryson will be particularly important after a season without a natural right back last year.

Forwards Justine Vanhaevermaet and Natasha Dowie will provide firepower after arriving this summer. Dowie is an England international who joins after leaving Milan in Italy. Meanwhile Vanheavermaet is a Belgium international who is likely to play out wide.

In midfield, Chloe Peplow joins after leaving fellow WSL side Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer.

The highlight of the window must be the signing of Canada international and Olympic champion Deanne Rose, however.

The midfielder won a gold medal with the Canadian international football team in Tokyo this summer and joins after turning down an offer to join North Carolina Courage through the US draft system. After only linking up with the team this week, it may take a while for Rose to bleed in.

Season preview

The Royals will be looking to regain their top half pedigree after finishing 7th last season. With a host of new names, Chambers will be hoping her side can gel early on. It’s a tough start for Reading with an away trip to Man United followed by the visit of Arsenal to the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

With a move to Bearwood, the Royals boast arguably the best training facilities in the league, and they hope that this can be an advantage for the campaign. Coupled with the return to Reading playing in front of fans at the stadium, it’s an exciting season ahead for the Women.

Opening day

Last season, Reading were the only side to take three points from Leigh Sports Village. Goals from Danielle Carter and Natasha Harding saw the side to a 2-0 win against a strong United outfit. It was also a clean sheet for goalkeeper Grace Moloney that ended a torrid run for the Royals.

They will be hoping to start the season strongly and will be in for a tough test in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Marc Skinner will be in charge of his debut game for the Red Devils and with a notoriously noisy home support, it sets for an exciting challenge.

Possible line-up: Grace Moloney, Faye Bryson, Deanna Cooper, Gemma Evans, Lily Woodham, Chloe Peplow, Rachel Rowe, Brooke Chaplen, Natasha Harding, Natasha Dowie, Amalie Eikeland.

Bench: Bethan Roberts, Deanne Rose, Justine Vanhaevermaet, Emma Harries, Ga-Eul Jeon.

Tickets are on sale now for the season opener at Man United and can be purchased online now. Season tickets and tickets for the first four home games are also on sale now via the club website!