Casey Stoney’s Manchester United were able to overcome a stubborn Reading side to finish the weekend on top of the Women’s Super League table.
It was Welsh international Jess Fishlock who had the first big chance of the game, she picked up on a loose ball on the edge of the box but her half volley went just over Mary Earps’ goal.
At the other end, Kirsty Hanson stretched to reach Tobin Heath’s cutback but she also was unable to hit the target.
Hayley Ladd’s superb through ball that dissected the Reading defence found Leah Galton to pick up the ball, Deanna Cooper tried to stay with Galton but the United winger was able to find space and put the ball passed Grace Moloney to give United the lead, and this is how it remained going into half time.
Going into the second half I felt that should United get the next goal then they would see out the same as comfortable winners. I was in fact Reading who opened the scoring in fortunate circumstances. Fara Williams received the ball on the edge of the box, holding off two United defenders before finding Fishlock. I’ve seen many in the media stating it was Fishlock’s shot which deflected passed a helpless Earps but for me, there is no way that Fishlock was shooting, she was clearly trying to play in Emma Harries, not that anyone will have cared how the ball found the net.
Lucy Staniforth was introduced in the sixty-first minute but only lasted nineteen minutes before coming off for Katie Zelem due to injury. This injury will be a disappointment for Casey Stoney.
It was Hayley Ladd who secured her player of the match award (in my opinion) when she nodded in the winner from close range after she was left unmarked.
There was still time for Tobin Heath to nearly add a third after she picked up on a loose pass from Moloney, although the US international was unable to get her shot on target.
I cannot see United dropping points in their next game against winless Bristol City so it looks like they will be going into the mid-season break top of the Women’s Super League.
Reading: 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: 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’)