Fara Williams netted in her final home game for Reading as the Royals moved up to sixth in the Women’s Super League with victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.
With just one game left in the 2020/21 season, the Royals earned their fifth win of the campaign in a five-goal contest against Brighton at the Madejski Stadium.
A quiet opening half an hour saw the sides locked at 0-0 before the game burst into life in the final 10 minutes of the half with four goals in quick succession.
The hosts had the chance to open the scoring in the 36th minute when Emma Harries was tripped in the box and was awarded a penalty.
In her final Madejski appearance before retirement, Williams stepped up to the spot and audaciously chipped the ball down the middle to give the Royals the lead.
The Seagulls looked to respond immediately but were thwarted by a smart double stop from goalkeeper Grace Moloney as she kept out Kayleigh Green.
Reading broke forward down the right-wing and Natasha Harding whipped in a delicious cross into the middle to find Danielle Carter who swivelled before firing the ball past the keeper to extend the Royals’ lead in the 43rd minute.
It looked as if Reading were going to go into the break with a comfortable lead but the visitors replied twice within minutes to shock the Royals and turn the game on its head.
Lee Geum-min latched onto a long ball and nodded the ball past Moloney to put Brighton back into the game on the stroke of half-time.
Just a minute later they were level as Geum-min showed tremendous determination to snatch the ball from the kick-off, spotted Moloney off her line, and sent a stunning strike to find the top corner from 40 yards out.
Reading searched for a way to restore their lead in the second-half and came inches away when Harding got in behind the Brighton defence and poked the ball past the keeper, but Felicity Gibbonsmade a vital clearance on the line to clear the danger.
Harding broke behind the Seagulls defence once again and this time made no mistake with her finish as she put the ball through the keeper’s legs to put the Royals back in the ascendancy.
Kelly Chambers’ side should have added another goal to seal the points in stoppage time when Amalie Eikeland was played through on goal, but Megan Walsh stood up tall and stuck out a leg to make the save.
But Reading were able to hold out to earn their second victory of the calendar year to boost them up a place in the table.
The Royals are away to title chasing Chelsea on the final day of the league season on Sunday.
Reading Women: Moloney, Leine, Cooper, Bartrip, Roberts, Harding, James, Rowe, Williams, Carter, Harries
Subs: Jeon, Eikeland, Nayler, Chaplin, Flores, Childerhouse
Brighton Women: Walsh, Koivisto, Kerkdijk, Le Tissier, Gibbons, Simpkins, Whelan, Kaagman, Green, Lee, Heroum
Subs: Roe, Brazil, Williams, Robinson, Jarrett, Symonds, Fiskerstrand, Olding, Bance
Goals: Williams (pen) 36, Carter 43’, Lee 44’, 45’, Harding 55’