It was a frustrating afternoon in Manchester as Reading FC Women were unable to make their possession and dominance count, particularly in the second-half, and Manchester United Women took their chances and all three points with a 2-0 win.
A very attacking first fifteen minutes saw a couple of early corners for Reading and a chance for United which forced Grace Moloney to pull off an impressive save at the other end.
In what was a theme of the first half, play was stopped for a substantial amount of time so that Lisa-Marie Utland could receive treatment for a serious nose injury. This slowed the pace of the game down momentarily, until Kirsty Hanson found herself in space on the right-hand side of the Reading penalty area and able to fire off a shot that beat Moloney and put the home side ahead.
It remained a frantic and physical encounter in the middle of the field, with both side’s taking their opportunities to break. There were chances at both ends towards the half-hour mark as Amalie Eikeland got into space on the left for the Royals but her shot-come-cross hit the side-netting and Katie Zelem floated a shot just over the bar at the opposite end. A brief moment of miscommunication at the back for the hosts almost put Utland in one-on-one with Mary Earps, but the former Reading shot-stopper collected the ball just in time.
Reading saw the half out by pushing the pace and winning two corners, but were unable to find the equaliser by the time the referee blew for the end of the first 45 minutes.
Half-time: Manchester United Women 1 – 0 Reading FC Women
As had been the story in the last couple of games, Reading controlled the second half, chances falling to Eikeland and Brooke Chaplen, before the latter was replaced by Millie Farrow, who was instantly busy as she was put into good positions by balls from Williams and Jade Moore in midfield.
Williams had two free kicks in dangerous positions just outside the box as Eikeland and Remi Allen, respectively, were brought down. On both occasions the shot was just off the mark as Reading continued to press and look for the equaliser.
Utland made way for Rakel Honnudottir as Reading pushed for the equaliser with constant attacking pressure. Long periods were spent with Manchester United unable to get out of their own half.
Completely against the run of play, the home side broke after another spell of possession from the Royals and Jess Sigsworth found herself in acres of space, slotting home United’s second.
Reading continued to control the play as they looked for a goal that would be some kind of consolation from such a positive performance, but as was the story of the whole game, the finish wasn’t quite there, before the referee blew the final whistle.
Full-time: Manchester United Women 2 – 0 Reading FC Women
Manchester United Women: Earps, Harris, Turner, McManus, Turner, Ladd, Zelem, Groenen (Toone 92), Hanson (Sigsworth 60), James, Galton
Substitutes not used: Mikalsen, Okvist, Green, Arnot, Ross
Goals: Hanson 16, Sigsworth 85
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Leine, Williams, James, Allen, Eikeland, Utland (Honnudottir 78), Moore, Chaplen (Farrow 58), Rowe, Howard
Substitutes not used: Laws, Pacheco, Bennink, Skeels, Childrehouse
Bookings: Allen 66