Manchester United Women’s team were stunned in a 2-0 loss to Reading, as their Super League hopes suffer a huge blow. An overall disappointing weekend for United fans, with the women’s team losing and men’s team conceding a late goal to draw with Everton.
Manchester United: Earps; Thorisdottir, A.Turner, M.Turner, Batlle; Ladd (Groenen 54), Zelem (c) (Fuso 87); Hanson (Sigsworth 57), Toone, Galton; Press
Substitutes not used: Bentley, Harris, Bourne, Jones, Ross
Reading: Moloney, Cooper, Bartrip, Woodham; Eikeland, Fishlock, James, Rowe; Harding, Carter (Harries 67)
Substitutes not used: Naylor, Leine, Roberts, Childerhouse, Dorell, Bruton
Just a few changes to the team that beat Everton last week, with Maria Thorisdottir making her full debut. Martha Harris returned to the starting lineup with Kirsty Hanson. Carrie Jones and Tara Bourne were named in the starting lineup. Kirsty Smith and Lauren James were missing from the team.
The hosts started off the stronger side, taking just a few minutes to get their first shot on target courtesy of some good linkup between Leah Galton and Ona Battle. Reading’s Rachel Rowe had her effort cleared off the line, and Amalie Eikeland’s shot went just wide moments later. The visitors made their presence felt and it was clear that they weren’t going to let United dominate the match.
Both sides fought for control even though neither could actually capitalise. Galton, who signed a new deal to stay with the Red Devils, created problems for Reading; forcing their defender Deanna Cooper to make a desperate tackle on the penalty spot. United kept mounting the pressure with some clever linkup with Katie Zelem and Ella Toone. It looked like the pressure finally paid off — a cross in from Kirsty Hanson found Toone, but her attempt hit the post. United pushed ahead with Batlle’s and Press’s link down the left, with nothing to show for their clever play.
Hanson and Galton swapped sides to immediate effect. Reading keeper Grace Moloney denied Galton a goal, catching her header in from Zelem’s cross. Shortly afterwards, Mary Earps made a save on the opposite end as Rowe overtook Millie Turner to give the guests another chance at goal.
Towards the end of the half, Hanson fired the ball over the net. On the other end, though, Reading forced United to defend till the end with two quick corners. Overall, United produced some fantastic play through the midfield, failing to convert as they fell short in the visitors’ half.
Reading kept creating chances after the break, forcing United to defend, but it was closely-fought, end-to-end play; Galton nearly broke the deadlock on one end, while Jess Fishlock’s long-range shot sailed over the bar on the other.
Yet another cross from Hanson threatened Reading’s mettle as Galton connected with it only to have her attempt saved. United were relentless, as Zelem’s shot went over the crossbar and Batlle forced Moloney to make another save.
Casey Stoney made some changes around the hour-mark to immediate effect. Jackie Groenen and Jess Sigsworth came on for Ladd and Hanson. Sigsworth had Reading’s defence scrambling to clear her cross. Zelem crossed in another chance for the hosts, but Galton failed to connect and give her team the lead.
Across the pitch, Earps was forced to make a close-range save from Angharad James, resulting in a corner that Reading’s captain Natasha Harding headed into the back of the net. Reading doubled their lead two minutes later as Danielle Carter, left unmarked, converted her header from teammate Emma Mitchell’s free kick.
United looked undeterred and pressed forward for the comeback but to no avail. Reading’s keeper saved captain Zelem’s effort and Thorisdottir’s attempt went over. Forcing the hosts to chase, Reading were content to sit back and defend and came away with all three points.
Stoney’s team put up a valiant effort but it was not their day. This defeat comes as a shock because of how well her team usually play, but a sub-par performance resulted in United’s first home defeat since January, 2020 and second defeat in the Super League this year.
The defeat keeps United at second place, level with Chelsea on points but the Blues have a game in hand. It also closes the gap between United and Man City, who are two points behind us and have a game in hand.