This Sunday Reading FC Women host Manchester United at Madejski Stadium for a 12.30pm kick-off in the FA Barclays Women’s Super League.
Fans will be in attendance once again to watch the encounter between Kelly Chambers’ Royals side and Casey Stoney’s Manchester United, who currently sit top of the WSL table and remain undefeated so far in league competition.
Last weekend, Reading welcomed Bristol City to Madejski in a match that was hugely significant as it marked the return of fans. However, despite Chambers’ side dominating the game with over thirty attempts on the Bristol City goal, they only managed to walk away with a single goal and point, despite putting on such an attacking display for the returning supporters in attendance.
Bristol scored against the run of play from a counter-attack involving Ebony Salmon and Charlie Wellings, who fed the ball into Emma Bissell to score the opening goal of the game before half-time.
The Reading goal did eventually come early in the second-half, from Fara Williams, who made a triumphant return to the starting line-up after several weeks out due to illness. However, Reading were unable to add a much needed second goal to their tally despite the constant barrage of attempts, and a 1-1 score line was all that Reading had to show for their efforts.
The 1-1 draw marked the fourth in a row for Reading, who walked away with the same score line against Everton and Tottenham on the road, as well as Manchester City at home. This leaves the Royals in 6th place in the WSL table, just 5 points behind Manchester City in 4th place.
The Red Devils are in town
Manchester United’s fine start to the FA Barclays Women’s Super League campaign – unbeaten in their first eight outings – shows their intention not only to break into the top three but also to finish as champions. After a fourth-place finish in their first season in the WSL, this time around Casey Stoney’s side have already beaten Arsenal and shared the points with Chelsea and Manchester City. The local derby with City showed the character of their current squad; outplayed and trailing 2-0 at the break, they rallied superbly to thoroughly deserve a draw. The quality of the summer acquisitions has greatly strengthened the squad and nine different players have already netted in the league this season. Leading the way with 4 goals is former City player Ella Toone, while both Kirsty Hanson and Alessia Russo have 3 each to date.
United’s New faces
Casey Stoney made some influential signings pre-season that have undoubtedly contributed to her side’s impressive start to the campaign. Central attacking midfielder Lucy Staniforth joined from WSL rivals Birmingham City. The 28-year-old who started out with Sunderland has 16 full caps for England. Like rivals Manchester City, Stoney has recruited two of the USA 2019 World Cup winning side. Forward Tobin Heath, aged 32, spent the last seven years with Portland Thorns and is a two-time World Cup winner. Meanwhile forward Christen Press was signed from Utah Royals. Another two-time World Cup winner, the 31-year-old has an impressive 138 caps and 58 goals for her country. Forward Alessia Russo was signed from North Carolina Tar Heels, and the 21-year-old, once with Chelsea, made her full England debut last March in the She Believes Cup. Finally, Spanish international defender Ona Batlle, 21, joined United last July from Levante.
In their maiden campaign the Red Devils won the 2018-19 FA Women’s Championship in style picking up 55 points out of a possible 60 and conceding just seven goals. In cup fixtures that season, they came across the Royals twice. A crowd of 4,835 turned out at United’s Leigh Sports Village for an early season meeting in the FA Continental Cup. The Royals won 2-0 courtesy of goals from Brooke Chaplen and Gemma Davison that day. The more important cup meeting came at Adams Park the following March, in the Quarter Final of the Women’s FA Cup. The first 90 minutes were goalless but then five goals made it an extraordinary extra thirty minutes. United took the lead through an Alex Greenwood penalty only for Remi Allen to equalise with a looping header. An own goal from Natasha Harding saw United regain the lead but the Royals equalised almost immediately, Rachel Furness sweeping home from close range. In the last minute, with a penalty shootout beckoning, Icelandic international Rakel Honnudottir forced home a loose ball to clinch a dramatic 3-2 victory for Kelly Chambers’ side. United’s only win to date over Reading came at the Leigh Sports Village in the WSL in late October of last year. The Royals enjoyed plenty of possession but were punished by goals from Kirsty Hanson and Jess Sigsworth as United ran out 2-0 winners. In the Adams Park return in early February Lauren James put the visitors ahead on the half hour mark. In the second period former Reading player Mary Earps saved a Fara Williams penalty but ten minutes from time Williams had another opportunity from 12 yards. This time Williams hit her mark and the final score ended honours even at 1-1.
Return of fans
Last week’s match against Bristol City marked the return of fans to Madejski to cheer on Reading FC Women.
The return of our valued and loyal supporters was a resounding success, with everyone in attendance enjoying a safe, positive experience at the stadium.
One fan in attendance, Vicki, said the following of her matchday experience, “Thanks to all involved in the organising of the new protocols for attending Reading matches. I was greeted on arrival by a friendly Steward who advised me of the new procedures. There was lots of space in the upper East stand seating, everyone was wearing face masks and there was hand sanitizer available. It made me proud to be a supporter of Reading Football Club. I felt very safe and it was fantastic to be cheering on Reading Women again.”
Print at home only tickets are still available to purchase here, until 10pm on Sunday.
After 5pm today (Friday) tickets can only be purchased online and not over the phone.
Parking will be available on the day for £10 contactless payments only.
PLEASE NOTE THAT TICKETS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BE PURCHASED AT THE GAME.
Reading FC Women v Manchester United Women | Sunday 13th December | 12.30pm | Madejski Stadium | Available to watch on BBC Red Button