A nine-game unbeaten run for Reading FC Women was finally ended at the hands of Man City on Sunday evening, who were 5-2 winners in a dramatic match at Adams Park.
The fine run of form – which hadn’t seen the Royals on the losing side since September – was dashed by the league leaders in WSL1.
The visitors struck first. Just six minutes had passed when Nikita Parris whipped a cross over to City debutant Nadia Nadim, who powered in a header.
Shortly after the half-hour, the lead was doubled by Claire Emslie, who was released down the right and lifted calmly over Mary Earps as the Royals stopper looked to close down the angle.
But the margin was back to a single goal just a couple of minutes later, as Fara Williams’ cross from the right caused enough confusion in the City rear-guard to allow Remi Allen to steal in and prod home from close range.
And the game was level again at two-apiece when Reading, with wind in their sails, notched an equaliser through Brooke Chaplen – a simply stunning strike from outside the area which found the far corner.
However City had the advantage at the interval; Isobel Christiansen’s deflected effort wrong-footed Earps after a square ball by Parris from the right-hand side.
Despite the Royals’ best efforts, two goals within 15 minutes of the restart by Jill Scott put the game out of reach. The first was added as she applied a touch to Christiansen’s corner, and the second just scrambled over the line from an Emslie cross.
After the game, Reading Women manager Kelly Chambers reflected on the defeat: “We came up against a strong side; that's why they've been champions. We knew it was going to be a tough game.
“I think in the first half we competed with them very well, to go 2-0 down and to come back to 2-2, I think we played excellently. It is probably the best footballing display in a first half this season.”
Full-time: Reading FC Women 2-5 Manchester City Women
Reading FC Women: Earps, Jane, Bartrip (Scott 75), Pearce (c), Potter, Williams (Linnett 82), Rowe, Bruton, Allen, Furness, Chaplen (Harding 69).
Unused subs: Moloney, Fletcher, Green, Clifford.
Manchester City Women: Roebuck, Stokes, Beattie, Houghton, McManus, Walsh, Scott, Christiansen, Parris (Lawley 74), Emslie, Nadim.
Unused subs: Hourihan, Jans, Stanway, Morgan, Spetsmark, Ross.