Reading FC Women had quite the afternoon at Leigh Sports Village, as they became the first side to defeat Manchester United there in aver a year, with a 2-0 victory in the Women’s Super League.
Two second-half goals within three minutes of each other from skipper Natasha Harding and Danielle Carter helped the Royals to capitalise on a fantastic performance and walk away from Manchester with three important points and a cleansheet.
Both sides had early attacking chances as Christen Press got onto the end of an attack from the home-side, but her shot was easily dealt with by Grace Moloney.
It was Reading’s turn next, as Emma Mitchell provided a deep cross from the right, into Rachel Rowe who was waiting at the back-post. Rowe’s looping header evaded the United defence and crossed the goalmouth, but there were no blue and red shirts to convert for the opener.
Reading had a second chance, this time from a cross coming in from the left, as Amalie Eikeland found herself in front of goal, but her shot was scuffed and trickled just wide of the United post.
The pendulum swung the other way minutes later as Ella Toone got a clever shot in on the Reading goal that looked like it might have crept in, but Moloney read the situation perfectly, collecting the ball. Seconds later, Reading were on the attack and Danielle Carter almost managed to slot the ball beyond United keeper and former Royal Mary Earps at the other end.
Leah Galton went close for the home-side in what was their best chance of the first frame, as she rose to meet a deep cross in the Royals box, but her header was caught confidently by Moloney and both sides went into the break on level pegging.
Half time: Manchester United Women 0-0 Reading FC Women
Reading began the second-half confidently; knocking the ball around the middle of the park withj ease, looking for opportunities to break forward.
Jess Fishlock had a couple of attempts on the United goal early on in the half; her first shot was always rising and ended up in the stands, but her second a few minutes later most definitely dipped and went mere inches above the United bar.
Whereas in previous games Reading hadn’t capitalised on spells of dominance and possession, this was not to be one of those times. Angharad James’ great effort on goal was tipped over by Earps. The resulting corner was swung in, a scramble ensued and Skipper Natasha Harding was there to nod in for the opening goal.
Less than three-minutes later, Mitchell swung a free-kick into the box from the left, which was met by Danielle Carter whose glancing header beat Earps and went in to put Reading 2-0 up.
It must have seemed like a long twenty-minutes for Reading following Carter’s goal, but they continued to maintain composure and press United when and where they could.
Grace Moloney pulled off some exceptional saves to keep the Royals in the game, and – after six-minutes of additional time at the end – Reading walked away with the three points, two goals and a clean sheet.
Full time: Manchester United Women 0-2 Reading FC Women
Manchester United Women: Earps, Batlle, A Turner, M Turner, Thorisdottir, Ladd (Groenen 54’), Zelem, Toone, Galton, Hanson (Sigsworth 58’), Press
Substitutes not used: Bentley, Harris, Fuso, Ross, Jones, Bourne
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Mitchell, Bartrip, Cooper, Woodham, James, Fishlock, Eikeland, Rowe, Carter (Harries 67’), Harding
Substitutes not used: Nayler, Leine, Roberts, Childerhouse, Flores, Bruton
Goals: Harding (63’), Carter (66’)