Man Utd v Reading

Report: Reading 0 United Women 1

Sunday 22 January 2023 16:10

Manchester United Women are top of the Women's Super League table after beating Reading 1-0 away from home this afternoon.

Marc Skinner's side were frustrated by a tough-to-beat Reading side who were spearheaded by impressive shot-stopper Jackie Burns in goal. 

Despite creating an abundance of chances, we had wait until the 88th-minute to find the breakthrough courtesy of second-half substitute Rachel Williams whose unstoppable effort gave us all three points. 

Mary Earps in the United goal put in an inspired performance at the back to earn her 50th WSL clean sheet and United's eight of the current campaign. 

Mary Earps earned a 50th clean sheet against Reading
Skinner’s side started in our usual dominant fashion, looking to attack the opposition’s goal from the off. Eight minutes in, that persistence almost paid off after intricate link-up play in the box, but Ladd’s effort was straight at the keeper. 

Reading soon grew into the game, though, and enjoyed a passage of play that would put United under constant pressure. Emma Harries’s half-volley was saved well by Earps; a few moments later Justine Vanhaevermaet tried an audacious effort from near the halfway line to catch our shot-stopper off her line but it went over. 
Regaining control midway through the first 45, the Reds began to fly through the motions and create goalscoring opportunities aplenty; two of which fell to Lucia Garcia consecutively but Jackie Burns was equal to both. 

Five minutes before the end of the half, Skinner’s side were gifted an excellent opportunity to break the deadlock after being awarded a penalty. Alessia Russo forced a foul out of former United defender Diane Caldwell, leaving the referee with no option to point to the spot. Captain Katie Zelem stepped up, but her spot-kick was saved well by Burns. 

Nikita Parris came close on two occasions before half-time, the first of which came from a sublime breakaway move from the Reds but her effort was blocked. The second smashed against the crossbar to signal the end of a frustrating half. 
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Our first chance of the second half came in the 52nd-minute with Russo coming within touching distance of putting us ahead. A brilliant looping ball into the box from Parris fell to Garcia, who played it across goal but Russo couldn’t quite get the final touch at full stretch. 

Continuing to create, Ona Batlle dragged a ball back into the box where Russo left it for Ella Toone who was better positioned behind her, but the effort was blocked well by Emma Mukandi. Minutes later, Russo was denied by Burns after the Reading keeper got down quickly to stop our no.23’s effort from the edge of the area. 

Approaching the final 10 minutes, Earps came up big for the Reds to deny what looked like a certain goal from the hosts. A free-kick sailed into the box was met by Vanhaevermaet who forced Earps into a fine save to keep the score level. 
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In her last action of the half before making way for Williams, Garcia went on a winding solo run deep into the Reading half, but her effort bounced wide of the post as United continued to search for a winning goal. 

And that goal came not long after the introduction of our no.28, who proved to be the difference. Williams got a bit of luck after her initial cross bounced back in her direction, before going on an uncontested run across the box and unleashing the ball into the top corner in emphatic fashion. 

The Reds kept our cool in spite of seven added minutes at the end to see out a victory and collect all three points that would see us end the game atop of the WSL table. 
The Reds are top of the WSL table after this afternoon's win


Reading XI: Burns; Mukandi, Evans, Caldwell; Eikeland, Troeslgaard (Primmer 65), Vanhaevermaet, Woodham; Harries (Dowie 90), Rowe (Wade 86), Wellings (Bryson 90). 

Unused substitutes: Moloney, Jane, Poulter. 

United XI: Earps; Batlle, Le Tissier, Turner, Blundell; Zelem, Ladd; Garcia (Williams 84), Toone, Parris (Thomas 65); Russo. 

Unused substitutes: Baggaley, Mannion, Thorisdottir, Tounkara, Boe Risa, Leon.

Goal: Williams 88.