Reading FC Women were on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline against top of the league Manchester United at Madejski, where a late goal for the red devils was the only thing between the two sides.
A first-half goal from the visiting side courtesy of Leah Galton was cancelled out in the second-half by a strike from Jess Fishlock, however, with just over five minutes remaining, Haylee Ladd nodded in from a set piece to seal the victory for the visiting side to ensure they remain unbeaten.
After Manchester United enjoyed a trio of early corners as they looked to apply the pressure in the first five minutes, the Royals soon took over and had some solid chances themselves. Amalie Eikeland played a ball across the goal-mouth for skipper Natasha Harding, who was celebrating her 50th appearance as a Royal, but she was unable to get anything on the end of it, despite her sliding efforts. The ball eventually made its way out to Jess Fishlock, whose powerful half-volley soared just over the Manchester United bar.
Another ball came in from the right for Harding not long later, this time from Emma Harries who made her very first start for Reading. Her cross was met by the advancing Captain, whose thunderous header was just wide of the mark.
There were chances at both ends as Kirsty Hanson went close for the visiting side and Williams did the same for the Royals.
It was a Reading attack which culminated in Harries being brought down in the United box that lead to the opening goal. As the referee waved away claims for a penalty, United broke quickly on the counterattack and in a matter of seconds Leah Galton was galloping towards the Reading goal. Grace Moloney managed to get a touch on her shot, but the ball ended up rippling the back of the net.
The remaining ten minutes of the half saw the ball go from end to end as United looked to double their lead and Reading sought to get off the mark, but the referees whistle went before the scoreboard could be added to.
Half-time: Reading FC Women 0 - 1 Manchester United Women
Reading came out the blocks quickly in the second-half, with two chances before the first minute was up. Harries got her head on a cross and forced a save from Mary Earps, before Harding tried to clip the ball past the United keeper and almost succeeded if it weren’t for a touch from the visiting defence.
However, the Royals only had to wait for ten minutes before the equaliser came. Harding received the ball high up the pitch and played it back to Fishlock who strode into the United box and got a shot in. The ball took a deflection, went past Earps and into the back of the net as Fishlock celebrated her first goal in blue and white.
Reading took the reigns for a while following the equaliser as Fishlock, Harries and Harding repeatedly broke through the United defence.
However, United struck again with less than 10 minutes left to play, as a corner was swung in and Hayley Ladd was the last one on the ball, nodding a close-range header to Grace Moloney’s right.
Reading kept battling and threw everything they could at United, but ultimately, they walked away without the points that the performance deserved.
Full-time: Reading FC Women 1 - 2 Manchester United Women
Reading FC Women:
Moloney, Leine, Bartrip, Woodham, Cooper, Fishlock, James, Harding, Eikeland (Rowe 81’), Williams, Harries
Subs not used: Nayler, Roberts, Childerhouse, Bruton, Carter.
Goals: Fishlock (56’)
Manchester United Women: Earps, Battle, A. Turner, M. Turner, Smith, Ladd, Groenen, Toone (Staniforth 60’), Heath, Galton, Hanson (Ross 72’)
Subs not used: Bentley, McManus, Okvist, Zelem, Fuso.
Goals: Galton (33’), Ladd (82’)
Yellow cards: A. Turner (63’), Heath (90+4)
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