Manchester City were evidently keen to move above league rivals Chelsea with a hard won victory over Reading on Saturday.
Despite their opponents being the team with the most draws in the league, Gareth Taylor’s side were able to ensure they did not add to that statistic. The Sky Blues welcomed the Royals to the Academy Stadium for the clash.
Roebuck; Bronze, Dahlkemper, Greenwood, Stokes, Walsh (c), Lavelle, Weir, Kelly, Hemp, Stanway
Moloney; Leine, Cooper, Bartrip, Harding (c), Woodham, Rowe, James, Fishlock, Williams, Eikeland
How it went
From the first whistle, Reading were resolute in their defending. At times the hosts seemed unable to find the final third prowess needed to break down the Royals back line.
Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney held up to the Manchester City assault admirably, with the No.1 making several saves to keep her side firmly in the game. The persistence of the visitors’ defending however seemed to push the hosts on as they continued searching for the opening goal.
Lauren Hemp, Lucy Bronze and Sam Mewis – who replaced fellow US international Rose Lavelle – all came close to putting the home side in the lead. There were some doubts that Bronze would be able to continue following a first half head injury that left the defender with a sizeable swelling on her head.Embed from Getty Images
Reading’s defence held strong throughout the City onslaught, with the hosts left fishing for the elusive goal that would propel them to the top of the table. It was the current in-form pairing of Chloe Kelly and Hemp who finally sealed the win for their team when Hemp completed a dazzling run past several opposing players to cross the ball into Kelly who duly tucked the ball home.
Injured City skipper Steph Houghton was shown visibly breathing a sigh of relief at the deadlock finally being broke.
Post match thoughts
Following the match, Taylor was full of praise for his side, particularly Hemp who set up the only goal in the fixture. Speaking in the post match press conference, the manager stated despite the No.15 still making some errors, he felt she had been exceptional in the loss against Barcelona and had been the player who had been the most likely to create something in tonight’s victory.
Taylor also made it clear that he felt the Reading players had been deliberately wasting time throughout the clash. When asked about Demi Stokes leaving the pitch, he explained that it seemed to be an issue with her groin but he couldn’t confirm anything further.
Reading manager Kelly Chambers was also full of praise for her squad and regretted their missed chances. Chambers was adamant that there had not been a point in the match where she had felt a Manchester City goal had been coming and was inevitable and that the darting Hemp run is not something she could have prepared her team for.
Manchester City forward Kelly explained that hard fought victories such as tonight’s bolster team confidence that they can go on to lift major trophies. The No.9 seemed confident that the team had the confidence and ability to turn the three goal defecit against Barcelona around.
Kelly too lauded teammate Hemp and was proud of the team’s hard won victory. The summer signing explained that she hadn’t felt any doubt that the hosts would manage to dig out a win.