Reading and Manchester United ended all square in their Barclays FA Women’s Super League clash at Adams Park, but the Royals will feel they should have walked away with all 3 points, after a second half full of chances. A saved penalty from Fara Williams failed to put them level after Lauren James opened the scoring in the first half, but Williams converted her second attempt to level the score and ensure Kelly Chambers’ side walked away with a point.
The first half began slowly as both sides felt each other out and the game was largely contested in the middle of the park.
On a couple of occasions, longballs from Angharad James opened up the play for Reading, both of them for Eikeland who was deemed offside on each occasion as she broke into acres of space.
United had their own chance when Jessica Sigsworth got a shot in on goal, but it was blocked by Rachael Laws.
The scoring was opened on the half-hour mark when Royals defender Kristine Leine sliced a clearance from a Manchester United longball and Lauren James found herself in on goal. She dribbled forward and placed a low shot under Laws and into the back of the net.
Reading continued to push, not letting the frustrations of conceding so out-of-the-blue deter them. Captain Natasha Harding and Rachel Rowe linked up nicely on the left and created a few chances for Jade Moore and Eikeland to get into space, but the referee blew for half-time before any additional momentum could be made.
Half time: Reading FC Women 0–1 Manchester United Women
The second-half began as it would mean to go on, as Reading came out all guns blazing and looking for the equaliser. Manager Kelly Chambers made a half-time substitution, bringing on Norwegian forward Lisa-Marie Utland for James, and Harding swapped with Rowe into a more attacking role. This worked wonders, as Reading began to have chance after chance.
In what was a staple of matches before the New Year, the Royals were constantly knocking on the door with chance-after-chance again, being denied by the smallest of margins.
Harding went through on goal but was just short of making a key touch and turning the ball into the net. Rowe played a beautiful ball into the box which was mere centimetres too high for Remi Allen, who rose for the header. Williams had a thunderous shot saved by Mary Earps.
Utland found herself in the box on several occasions as a number of red shirts surrounded her, but towards the hour-mark, she was brought down and referee Kirsty Dowle pointed to the penalty spot. Williams stepped up, having converted two penalties in both previous matches against Everton and London City Lionesses, but Earps got down quickly and palmed Williams’ spot kick the other side of the post.
Reading didn’t take their foot off the gas and continued to press, having all the possession as United struggled to deal with the threat. As the 80 minute came around, Katie Zelem was deemed to have handled the ball in the Reading box and the referee pointed to the spot once again. This time, Williams left nothing to chance, blasting the ball high into the roof of the net.
The Royals continued to hunt for another goal that would seal all 3 points for them in the race for 4th place, but the winner didn’t come and both sides had to settle for a well-contested draw at Adams Park.
Full time: Reading FC Women 1–1 Manchester United Women
Reading FC Women: Laws, Leine, Williams, Bartrip, James (Utland 45’), Allen, Eikeland, Harding (Chaplen 84’), Moore, Potter, Rowe
Substitutes not used: Moloney, Pacheco, Farrow, Howard, Skeels
Goals: Williams 80’
Yellow cards: Moore, Bartrip
Red cards: none
Manchester United Women: Earps, Harris, Turner, Sigsworth (Arnot 76’), Zelem, Ladd, Groenen, James, Ross (May 76’), Smith, Turner
Substitutes not used: Okvist, Palmer, Mikalsen.
Goals: James 30’
Yellow cards: Zelem
Red cards: none