Manchester City recorded the narrowest of victories in the day’s late kick-off as Chloe Kelly’s 88th-minute goal helped them to a 1-0 win over Reading at The Academy Stadium.
Gareth Taylor’s side were the hot favourites going into the match but found themselves coming up against a very organised and determined Reading outfit.
The first sight of goal came when Lucy Bronze cut the ball back for Rose Lavelle who took aim from 12 yards but her effort was superbly saved by visiting keeper Grace Moloney. The Republic of Ireland international was certainly the busier of the two keepers in the first 45 minutes, although Reading could’ve very easily taken the lead themselves.
A neat pass in behind from Jess Fishlock found Amalie Eikeland whose low shot into the far corner was well saved by Ellie Roebuck with her left foot.
City continued to create plenty of opportunities with most of them coming through Kelly on the right wing. First, she set up Georgia Stanway who contrived to turn the ball wide from six yards before Lauren Hemp got on the end of another Kelly cross and struck the far post.
The first half ended goalless but City will certainly have been the more frustrated of the two sides.
It was more of the same after the break as City pushed hard for the goal but continued to squander chances while Reading defended resolutely.
It was beginning to look like a missed opportunity for Taylor’s side as they seemed more and more likely to be losing ground in the title race. That was until Hemp stepped up with a moment of brilliance. The young England winger drove into the heart of the Reading defence, jinking and weaving through opposition players before crossing low into the six-yard box for Kelly to have a simple tap in. The goal gave the hosts the lead with just two minutes left of the clock.
City came away with all three points leaving the Reading players devastated at the final whistle. They defended valiantly for 87 minutes but were denied a share of the spoils at the last through a piece of magic from Hemp.
Taylor’s side now leapfrog Chelsea into top spot putting pressure on their title rivals who welcome Aston Villa to Kingsmeadow tomorrow afternoon.