READING FC Women got their season off to an impressive start with a 4-1 home victory against Durham Women in their opening Continental Cup group fixture.

Kelly Chambers’ side raced into a 3-0 lead in the opening 25 minutes, with Fara Williams completing a hat-trick in the second period.

Durham almost took an early lead when Zoe Ness was denied by an excellent save from Grace Maloney.

It proved a costly miss as Royals went in front in the sixth minute when captain Kirsty Pearce lashed home following a dangerous free-kick.

The home side never looked back with Gemma Davison testing Durham keeper Hannah Reid when one-on-one.

But Williams hit a stinging volley from outside the area to double the lead in the 13th minute.

Then 11 minutes later Lauren Bruton got behind the visiting defence before squaring for Williams to tap home her second of the day.

Durham were being outplayed in every department with Brooke Chaplen going close and Natasha Harding hitting the inside of the post from 30-yards out, Chaplen tucking home the rebound but from an offside position.

To their credit, the visitors regrouped at the interval and almost scored immediately after the restart when Abi Cottam’s effort crashed against the crossbar.

It took Durham until the 79th minute to reduce the arrears when Beth Hepple converted from the penalty spot after Ness had been fouled by Molly Bartrip.

But their celebrations were short-lived as Royals restored their three-goal advantage two minutes later with a thunderous 25-yard strike from Williams to complete her hat-trick and a dominant victory.

Chambers beamed: "The first-half in particular was a great performance from us.

“Being 3-0 up at half-time meant we dropped off a little bit. But we wanted to start the season brightly and we did that.”

Chambers also praised Williams, saying: "We saw last year what Fara can bring us higher up the pitch. It's good to see her get another hat-trick, I hope it continues."

Williams added: "We are a team that can score goals, we've just got to stop them going in (at the other end).

“We had to add to our squad to build on what we did last year. This year we want to try and finish fourth again and progress in the cups. The players we've added will certainly help us do that."

Reading FC Women take on Manchester United Women in a mouthwatering clash at Leigh Sports Village this Saturday (12pm ko).

Reading: Moloney; Williams, Bartrip, Pearce (C), Davison, Bruton (Jane 69), Harding, Chaplen, Potter, Rowe, Howard. Subs not used: Laws, Woodham, Skeels. Booked: Maloney 77.

Durham: Reid; Hill, Holmes (Christon 60), Salicki (Roberts 79), Wilson (C), Lee, Hepple, Robson (Briggs 63), Ness, Cottam, Gears. Subs not used: Knott. Booked: Lee 16.

Referee: Alex Rayment.

Attendance: 246.