IT was a year to forget for Reading FC Women who suffered relegation from the Women’s Super League after eight years in the top flight.
With the club constantly punching above their weight considering the shoestring budget the management team had to work with for several years, 2022/23 was finally the campaign where they fell short.
A run of three successive losses to start the year was ended after the Royals earned three big points in March with victory over West Ham thanks to Rachel Rowe’s 85th minute strike.
A 4-0 loss away to Arsenal was followed by two damaging results up against fellow relegation candidates Brighton & Hove Albion and Leicester City.
Hosting Brighton at the end of March, Kelly Chambers’ side were in desperate need of points to try and drag themselves away from relegation danger.
A disastrous start to the game saw the Royals go two goals down inside the opening 13 minutes.
They managed to pull themselves back into the contest as two Emma Harries’ goal earned a point in a 2-2 stalemate, but with the result still leaving them deep in relegation troubles.
Their most harmful defeat of the season came next on their away trip to Leicester in April.
The Foxes struck a hammer blow deep into stoppage time when Carrie Jones netted a 96th minute winner.
Reading lost their five remaining games of the campaign which condemned them to the drop.
After another late goal, this time in a 3-2 loss to Everton hurt their hopes they followed that with heavy defeats to both Aston Villa and Tottenham.
With a huge task ahead with the Royals needing a win over Chelsea to have any chance of survival, they were beaten 3-0 as their spell in the top flight was concluded.
After more than two decades of working at the club in various roles, manager Kelly Chambers departed and was replaced by Liam Gilbert for the team’s new venture in the Championship.
To make matters even more difficult, the club’s owners took the decision to switch the women’s team to a part-time basis.
The Royals have endured a tough start in the second tier and are currently in 10th position on 11 points from 11 games heading into the new year.