Manchester United succumbed to a shock 2-0 defeat at the hands of Reading at The Leigh Sports Village yesterday.
The loss means that The Red Devils missed the opportunity to close the gap on table toppers Chelsea as they were also on the receiving end of an upset against out of form Brighton & Hove Albion.
United hadn’t lost at their home stadium in over a year and manager Casey Stoney was bitterly disappointed to see that unbeaten run come to an end.
“It’s very disappointing” said Stoney in the post-match press conference in which FAWSL Full-Time were present. “Very, very disappointing.
“I don’t think it was good enough from us today. I think in both boxes we need to be better.
“We could’ve finished the game, we had tons of chances but we didn’t do that and then concede from two set-pieces.”
Stoney’s side created plenty of clear-cut chances with Ella Toone seeing her effort come back off the post while Ona Batlle and Leah Galton both had shots very well saved by Reading keeper Grace Moloney. Despite having more shots on target than their opponents, United were unable to make it count and Stoney went on to lament the missed opportunities.
“I think we still dominated the ball but it doesn’t matter” she said. “It doesn’t matter unless you take your chances. If you create chances, you have to take them.
“I don’t like to talk about luck. I think you finish your chances or you don’t and we didn’t.”
Stoney was then asked if any positives could be taken from the defeat and her answer was very much straight to the point.
“No, not today” she said bluntly.
Stoney has been known for her unwavering pursuit for perfection and it is plain to see that nothing but the best is acceptable for the United manager. The Red Devils will have to bounce back quickly if they are to put this defeat behind them as they travel to local rivals Manchester City on Friday evening. City haven’t dropped a point in the league for six games, a sequence which dates back to the 2-2 draw with United back in November. Therefore, this match could be seen one of two ways, either this is the worst possible opponent for United after a shock defeat or it is the perfect opportunity to respond and show that they are truly capable of fighting for the title.
“We can’t sit on that disappointment because we’ve got a big game on Friday” Stoney stated. “We have to dust ourselves down, we have to move forward.
“We have to look at City now and we need a big response from all of us here, staff and players, so we can go and get a result because we’ve put ourselves in a difficult position losing.”
Just three weeks ago, United were in a very strong position sitting top the league table but two defeats in three games has now seen them lose the momentum that got them there in the first place. It has also meant that their city rivals have significantly closed the gap and if the blue half of Manchester get the win on Friday, they will overtake their neighbours into second place.