Reading FC Women gave a solid performance against title challengers Manchester City at The Academy Stadium, falling 1-0 to an 87th minute winner.
Reading looked to be on the way to their ninth draw of the season against Manchester City, until a flash of brilliance from Lauren Hemp set up a tap-in for Chloe Kelly in the 87th minute to seal the win and send City top.
The first few exchanges saw the hosts attempting to break through the middle, but Royals keeper Grace Moloney proved her worth, denying Rose Lavelle as she tipped the City midfielder’s strike over the crossbar.
Minutes later, Moloney was called into action again as Chloe Kelly’s pass found Lucy Bronze right in front of goal, but Reading’s number 1 made an incredibly well timed slide to get just enough on the ball to send it behind for a corner.
Chances were had at both ends as the game approached the half-hour mark, as Moloney got down quick to her left to deny Lavelle once more, before the ball travelled up the other end and Amalie Eikeland found herself in space just to the lefty of the City goal. The Norwegian shot, but her effort was kept out by City keeper Ellie Roebuck’s feet.
Play was halted for knocks to Moloney and Jess Fishlock for the Royals and Bronze for City, before Georgia Stanway was next to attempt to open the scoring, her first-time effort trickling past the Reading post with just over five minutes of the first-half to go.
A final flurry didn’t come and Reading saw out the rest of the first-half to ensure they went into the break on level pegging with City.
Half-time: Manchester City Women 0 – 0 Reading FC Women
The second-half saw the early chances spread a bit more evenly between the two sides. Reading attacked first when Fara Williams swung a corner in with less than a minute gone. The cross was deep into a crowded box and City cleared, but their possible break towards Reading’s goal was halted as Woodham was deemed to have fouled Bronze, resulting her entering the referee’s book.
Stanway unleashed a stinging shot shortly after, but it was straight at Moloney and the Royals’ keeper dealt with it.
Reading broke forward a couple of times through Rachel Rowe; the first time, her through-ball almost found Harding who had sprinted into space in front of the City goal, the second she galloped forward herself and took a shot, which was batted away by Roebuck.
The substitutions started to come thick-and-fast after the hour mark, as both teams looked to get fresh legs on the field in a bid to break the deadlock. Lavelle, Stanwa and Demi Stokes were replaced by Sam Mewis, Esme Morgan and Ellen White, respectively within the space of less than ten minutes. The Royals made just one change, bringing off Williams for striker Danielle Carter.
Substitute Mewis was straight into action, rising to meet a cross and nodding the ball just wide of the Reading post.
Moments later, Moloney yet again kept her side in the match with some incredible gymnastics that saw her backtracking to tap away a deep shot-come-cross by Caroline Weir.
However, the barrage from City was to eventually pay off, as on the 87th minute, Lauren Hemp went on an incredible run into the box, cutting in-and-out, before playing a ball across the box for Kelly to tap in from close range, giving City a late, late win.
Full-time: Manchester City Women 1 – 0 Reading FC Women
Manchester City Women: Roebuck, Bronze, Dahlkemper, Greenwood, Stokes (Morgan 60’), Walsh, Lavelle (Mewis 62’), Weir, Kelly, Hemp, Stanway (Stanway 68’)
Substitutes not used: Taieb, Coombs, Mannion, Beckie, Davies, Park
Goals: Kelly (87’)
Reading FC Women: Moloney, Leine, Cooper, Bartrip, Woodham, Harding, James, Fishlock, Rowe, Williams (Carter 68’), Eikeland.
Substitutes not used: Nayler, Roberts, Childerhouse, Jeon, Flores, Harries.
Yellow cards: Woodham (47),
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