BROOKE CHAPLEN says Reading Women are looking to put on a show when they return to Madejski Stadium this weekend.
The Royals are enjoying their best ever season, currently sitting third in the top flight, and they welcome Liverpool Ladies on Saturday afternoon (2pm) in the penultimate game of the campaign.
Reading usually play their home matches at Wycombe’s Adams Park, but they are back at the Mad Stad for a second time this season having welcomed a record crowd for the 4-0 cup win over London Bees back in November.
But with tickets free this weekend to season ticket holders of both the men’s and women’s teams, as well as free parking for all, there is a good chance of eclipsing the crowd of 2,248 that turned out last time.
“We can’t wait,” Reading striker Chaplen told The Wokingham Paper.
“We’re excited to get out there and we still want to look to the next two games and get three points in both of them.
“Obviously the location of the game helps so hopefully we’ll get quite a few numbers in and fingers crossed we can put on a performance like we have done throughout the season.
“I don’t think we performed very well when we played there last time, so hopefully we can show the fans that come along what we’re capable of as a team and also alongside that pick up the three points as well.”
After a run of just one win in seven following the Christmas break, Reading have hit form again in recent weeks.
The Royals come into Saturday’s clash having won five of their last six, most notably a 2-0 success at title hopefuls Manchester City in April.
But the league remains tight with just four points separating Kelly Chambers’ charges in third and Birmingham City in sixth, while this weekend’s opponents Liverpool are level on
points with Reading in fifth.
The target all season has been to finish in the top four and Chaplen says that still remains the goal now.
“It’s really important to us,” she said.
“We want to go into these games and if it’s in our hands to win both those games and finish third then that’s important for us as a group.
“We’ve worked hard this year and I think it would be a really good achievement for the club if we could finish third.
“The steps that the club have taken every year so far, it would be a big step this year to finish in that third spot.”
She added: “I think we’ve played well and been consistent.
“The Arsenal game (3-1 defeat) was probably our worst performance in the second half of the season but without that, I think we’ve been really consistent and had four or five clean sheets.”
Whatever happens in the final two games, Reading are set for their highest finish since joining the Super League.
Following promotion to the top flight in 2015, the Royals won just one game in their debut season before finishing sixth in the Spring Series last year.
But they set their sights higher this time around with many standing up and taking notice of Chambers’ charges after a 3-0 win in the reverse fixture at Liverpool back in September.
“I think that’s the game really where we started to step up and show what we were capable of,” said Chaplen.
“We started the season not great with our results at home, losing to Sunderland in the first game then drawing with Birmingham and that Liverpool game was where we kind of kicked in.
“Hopefully we can continue the same going into the game at home and put on a good defensive display, but also show that we’ve got a lot of quality with the ball too.”
As well as their final league position, the title of Reading top scorer is also still in the balance.
Chaplen, who has featured in all 23 games this season, is well in the mix with nine goals, level with midfielder Remi Allen.
Fara Williams currently leads the charge with 10 and Chaplen admits there is a friendly rivalry between the trio.
“We wind each other up every day about it,” she said.
“I think the end of season presentation will be a giggle to see who gets there, but ultimately what’s important is we win every week wherever the goals come from.
“I think it’s a positive they’re coming from all over the pitch really and we’ve got midfielders getting that many goals for a season, I think it’s brilliant.
“Three points on Saturday and we’ll be happy.”
As well as free parking and free entry for season ticket holders, tickets are available from £6 for adults and £3 concessions, with a family ticket priced at £15, with prices rising slightly if bought on matchday.