With Manchester City just five points off the coveted third place, Gareth Taylor’s side welcomed Reading to the Academy Stadium.
With the Sky Blues having a game in hand over the two sides above them, the three points on offer could prove crucial in the race for Champions league qualification. Reading however have already proven to be a tough opponent for many this season.
Roebuck; Stokes, Greenwood (c), Stanway, Raso (Hemp, 59′), Weir, Bronze, Shaw (White, 71′) , Walsh, Kennedy, Blakstad (Park, 71′).
Moloney; Bryson, Peplow, Evans, Rose, Harding (c), Harries (Rowe, 74′), Cooper, Vanhaevermaet, Woodham, Troelsgaard.
How it went
It was arguably the hosts who enjoyed the better start to the game. By the 12th minute, the Sky Blues had commanded almost 60% of the possession with all four of the game’s shots going the way of City.
The following spell continued in much the same form. Despite the hosts’ dominance, Reading’s determined defence saw the tie level at the half-time whistle.
The second half brought yet more chances for Man City, however once again Reading’s defence remained unshaken.
With almost 70 minutes gone, the visitors were yet to register a shot. Meanwhile, their opponents had seen almost 20 attempts on goal provide no return.
The tiebreaker eventually came from an unlikely source. Demi Stokes found the back of the net with a left-footed shot in the 74th minute. The goal marks Stokes’ fourth league goal, with half of those coming against Reading.Embed from Getty Images
With the visitors continuing to push for an equaliser, City were frequently forced back up the pitch. Just nine minutes after the opener, the second goal followed.
As Lauren Hemp followed in a saved Ellen White shot, City could finally breathe a sigh of relief as they secured a much needed three points.
Stand out player
Whilst Stokes may have secured City’s first goal, the defender’s impact on the game was far greater than simply breaking the deadlock.
With the Blues building their attacks from the back of the pitch, the left-back’s progressive passes and runs allowed her side to continuously apply pressure to a robust Reading defence.
Heaping praise on the No.3 in his post match press conference, Gareth Taylor described Stokes’ finish as one of a player who scores 25 goals a season.
Post match thoughts
Taylor was understandably pleased with his team’s dominant display. The City boss praised his squad for their patience, explaining he had stressed the need to be patient during his half-time talk as his side battled to find the opening goal of the tie.
Kelly Chambers too was full of praise for her team. The Reading manager however, did note that her side is currently depleted due to illness with only five players on the bench.
Chambers was optimistic about the team’s upcoming tie with Aston Villa and stated that she felt they could build on the game’s positives as they go into Saturday’s away match.