A couple of own goals and a Bunny Shaw header capped a dominant display by Manchester City as they continued their recent good form with a 3-0 win at Reading. Home captain Emma Mukandi scored two second half own goals in the space of seven minutes to send the blues on their way after and Shaw nodded home the third with 14 minutes remaining as the blues made it four consecutive league wins in a row.
And, with Chelsea and Manchester United facing off this evening, the victory means the blues will close the gap on at least one of the two top three sides.
Manager Gareth Taylor made a few changes to his line-up, giving goalkeeper Sandy McIver her league debut for City, while Hayley Raso got her first start of the season. Academy product Esme Morgan captained the side for the first time.
And it was the captain who came to City’s rescue in the early stages of the match, making a well-timed challenge to prevent Sanne Troelsgaard from giving the Royals the lead. Raso produced City’s best chance of the half but saw her tame shot go straight into the hands of the keeper.
It was one of few chances in the half, with City pushing forward at every available opportunity, but seemed to lack a cutting edge to get the opening goal. Reading meanwhile, seemed content to sit back and defend, trying to attack the blues on the break to little effect.
City’s main threat came from the left as Lauren Hemp teased the home defence, but there was never anyone on the end to convert. And the moment Hemp found Laura Coombs free in the box after some nice link-up play, the latter saw her shot go well wide of the upright.
The blues stepped things up after half-time, with most of City’s attacks coming through Hemp. And it was the England winger that created the opening goal after 53 minutes. Her driving run into the box saw defenders trying to keep up with her, and Hemp’s pass across goal towards Shaw was turned in brilliantly by Mukandi, producing a striker’s finish at the wrong end.
The unfortunate defender would repeat the feat seven minutes later, with Hemp again the architect. Another driving run saw her shot parried by home keeper Jackie Burns parried into the path of Mukandi, who could do nothing to prevent the ball hitting her thigh and into the back of the goal.
Reading looked demoralised after that goal as City looked to finish them off, although the Royals did come close to pulling a goal back but hit the top of crossbar. Instead, it was City who would score the next and last goal of the game, and inevitably, it came courtesy of Shaw.
Mary Fowler’s perfect cross in the 76th minute was powered home by the Jamaican striker, who scored her 7th goal in six games for the blues. It was another powerful performance by the girls in blue, who are breathing down the necks of Arsenal, United and Chelsea, and Gareth Taylor’s side have sent a clear message that they are ready to replace any of the in the top three positions, should any of the slip up.
City now go into the international break before travelling to Everton on November 19th.
Final score: Reading Women 0-3 Manchester City Women.