Reading achieved their biggest result of the season so far as they overcame title-chasing Manchester United with a 2-0 victory in the day’s early kick-off at The Leigh Sports Village.
Casey Stoney’s side missed the opportunity to regain top spot from champions Chelsea and this afternoon’s result now gives the advantage to Emma Hayes’ team to open up a lead at the summit.
United looked good in large spells of the game and could have taken the lead on a number of occasions. Their best chance of the opening 45 minutes came through some wonderful build-up play as Christen Press set Ella Toone on her way with a sumptuous flick. A one-two between Toone and Kirsty Hanson created the space for the United number seven to fire her shot low towards the far corner. She thought she had given her side the lead but her effort bounced back off the upright and into the grateful arms of visiting keeper Grace Moloney.
Despite a slow start after the interval, United looked the most likely side to score with Leah Galton’s first-time volley and Ona Batlle’s low driven shot both being superbly saved by Moloney. Stoney’s were then made to rue those missed opportunities as The Royals took a shock lead.
A Reading corner was whipped in from the right and United failed to clear their lines. After a chaotic goalmouth scramble, the ball was nodded in on the goal-line by Natasha Harding.
The home side were then truly up against it just two minutes later. A free-kick bent in by Emma Mitchell found an unmarked Danielle Carter on the edge of the six-yard box whose powerful header left Mary Earps helpless in the United goal.
Reading were able to hold onto their two-goal lead to collect a monumental three points. It was just their second win in 10 games and only their fourth league win of the entire season. The result will be a bitter pill to swallow for Stoney’s United as they appeared to have bounced back strongly from last month’s defeat to Chelsea but today was simply not their day. The Red Devils had plenty of chances to score but were ultimately undone by some poor defensive mistakes that Reading exploited. The defeat is United’s first at home in over a year since they lost to Bristol City back in January 2020. That demonstrates just what a huge victory this is for Reading and how disappointing it is for Stoney and her players.