With no other Barclays Women’s Super League games taking place this weekend, all eyes were on this fixture and we sent out a message to the rest of the league, thanks in no small part to the finishing clinic put on by our No14.
She completed a perfect hat-trick inside an opening 45 minutes that were dominated by Emma Hayes’s side, as we asserted ourselves upon the home side from the first whistle. We took the lead after 16 minutes when Kirby ran on to a flick-on from Sam Kerr and confidently rounded Grace Moloney, before slotting the ball into the empty net.
That was the right-footed effort in the bank, and soon it was her left foot doing the damage. In truth, Reading were masters of their own downfall, as they presented the ball to the England international on the edge of the box and she raced away to beat Moloney for the second time.
That became three with the last touch of the opening half and this was perhaps the pick of the bunch, as a well thought out set-piece routine saw Erin Cuthbert clip one to the back stick for Kerr to send a first-time cross into the danger zone, which Kirby expertly headed home.
She scored a fourth just seven minutes into the second half and once again the damage was done with her head, this time following a clipped corner kick to the near post by Guro Reiten. Reading simply did not know what had hit them. The four goals took Kirby to seven this term in the WSL and nine in all competitions, moving ahead of Sam Kerr as our top scorer.
A brilliant finish late on from substitute Ji So-Yun capped a fine afternoon for the Blues, as we made it five wins on the spin and extended our long unbeaten record in the WSL to 30 matches, which is just one shy of the league record held by Manchester City.
The victory also moves us ahead of Arsenal into second and three points behind leaders Manchester United, with a game in hand on both sides.
With the Red Devils our next opponents, at Kingsmeadow next Sunday, all eyes will once again be fixed upon last season’s champions as we look to draw level at the top of the standings.