Reading 1 Manchester United Women 3
Manchester United Women continued the quest for a top-three finish this season in the WSL by defeating Reading 3-1 at the Madejski Stadium.
Leah Galton opened the scoring after just four minutes, but the Reds were pegged back just 10 minutes later. Galton and Alessia Russo both netted soon after the Royals' equaliser, ensuring we continued our unbeaten start to the month of March.
The victory means Marc Skinner's side remain in third position in the WSL, three points ahead of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, with just six games remaining.
The game produced its first notable action after a mere 15 seconds, as some smooth build-up play involving Martha Thomas and Alessia Russo led to the latter taking aim from the edge of the penalty area, only for her right-footed effort to cannon back off the woodwork.
And just four minutes later, it was the Reds who took the lead. Hannah Blundell burst forward down the left flank before crossing wonderfully for Galton to head home, netting her 5th WSL strike of the season so far and giving United an early lead.
Reading then came forward soon after, with forward Rachel Rowe flashing her powerful right-footed effort just wide.
With 15 minutes gone, the hosts drew level, as Blundell’s misplaced pass was seized upon by Rowe, who in turn played in Deanne Rose to fire home the Royals' equaliser, in a frantic opening to the game.
United then regained the lead just eight minutes later, as Russo turned provider, producing a wonderful defence-splitting pass that found Galton, who raced through and rounded Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney to net her second goal of the game.
Martha Thomas then raced clean through, but with Galton and Russo waiting alongside her, the forward chose to go alone, before the home side cleared their lines to prevent falling further behind.
The Reds did then add to their tally just moments before the interval. Batlle unleashed a shot with the ball clearly crossing the line after bouncing back off the crossbar.
Play continued despite United’s claims for a goal, but Russo ensured Skinner's side would still take a comfortable two-goal cushion into the break by collecting the ball and firing home a right-footed strike.
As the second half rolled around it was once again United who dominated the early proceedings, with the Reds keen to find a fourth goal.
Mary Earps was called upon as the Royals attempted to get back into the game. The United no.27 did superbly as she twice denied Rose in a matter of seconds to keep the score at 3-1.
With the Reds seemingly happy to protect the two-goal advantage for large parts of the second period, Earps again was called upon with 15 minutes remaining, as she denied the hosts a second strike, smartly saving a Vanhaevermaet header at the back post.
United then had claims for a penalty waved away as Thomas went down under a strong tackle from Chloe Peplow in the area. Toone's follow-up effort sailed wide soon after. The same player combined well with Galton once more before again firing just wide of the mark.
The Reds safely saw out the latter stages of the game, to return home from Berkshire with three more points in the bag.
Reading: Moloney, Bryson, Evans, Rose, Harding, Harries, Cooper, Rowe, Vanhaevermaet, Woodham, Troelsgaard (Peplow, 77).
Substitutes not used: Stewart, Poulter, Roberts, Baigent.
Booked: Troelsgaard 58.
Scorer: Rose 16.
United: Earps, Batlle, Caldwell, Thorisdottir, Blundell, Groenen, Zelem (c), Russo (Hanson, 70), Toone, Galton (Boe Risa, 89), Thomas.
Substitutes not used: Baggaley, Harris, Fuso, Murphy, Barry.
Booked: Batlle 22.
Scorers: Galton 5, 25, Russo 43.