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Reading Women vs Manchester City at Select Car Leasing Stadium

FT
Select Car Leasing Stadium Referee : Elizabeth Simms
8th May 2022 12:00 PM (BST)
  • 0 Reading Women

  • 4 Manchester City

    • ‘33' Lauren Hemp
    • ‘40' Khadija Shaw
    • ‘85' Ellen White
    • ‘90'+1' Alex Greenwood (Pen)

#mancity

Commentary By Caroline Oatway

FT

FULL-TIME | Reading 0-4 City

There we have it! City will be playing European football next season.

Goals from Lauren Hemp, Khadija Shaw, Ellen White and Alex Greenwood clinch another thumping win for City to end the FA Women's Super League season in third spot and claim the final European place.

A comprehensive performance - solid at the back, dominant in the middle and ruthless upfront - with players taking their chance to stake a claim for a starting spot at next weekend's FA Cup Final.

An incredible achievement for Gareth Taylor's side.

Stay tuned to mancity.com and our official app for post-match reaction.

86'

Game, set and match!

England's all-time record goalscorer finds the back of the net, rising highest to head home Losada's corner in off the post.

What an impact.

Open
80'

Ahhh

City go in search for more goals with a series of good crosses, which Reading hack away.

The ball reaches Losada outside the box - she tries her luck but doesn't get the connection she wants and the ball flies harmlessly wide.

Open
70'

Seeking a third

Shaw again with a chance, as she chests down and strikes... but it bounces off the ground, which takes the sting off the shot and Moloney gathers.

Open
68'

What a save!

How did that stay out?!

Kelly curls a delightful effort to the top corner... it looks destined to go in  but somehow, Moloney claws it out of the air and prevents it from crossing the line!

65'

Changes?

With a comfortable lead, Taylor could be forgiven for moving half an eye onto next week's Cup Final.

Imagine we'll see some changes shortly... Who would you bring on or take off?

60'

Quiet on the hour

Not too much to report in terms of goalmouth action in recent minutes - there was a brief stoppage in play for an injury.

Reading have looked dangerous since the restart, as they chase a route back into the game.

City will be more than happy to see this one out. A win guarantees third spot, don't forget.

55'

Oooft!

What a hit by Bunny. Looked like it was sailing in but it was blocked. I wouldn't like to have got in the way of that!

Kelly just got in the way of a Stanway strike too... Same applies! Ouch.

Open
51'

Too high

Shaw has the chance to double her personal tally, collecting the ball just outside the area, but her effort sails over the crossbar.

46'

Should have been three!

What a delivery from Kelly! The winger zipped a ball right across the face of goal - it only needed a touch!

But despite Shaw and Hemp's best efforts, it evaded everyone!

HT

HALF-TIME

That's the half. City head into the break with a two-goal lead, thanks to goals from Lauren Hemp and Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw as the pair continue their superb purple patches.

Open
45'

Woah!

A warning from Reading that this game isn't over.

Rose jinks back and unleashes a powerful effort which flies just over the bar. She's looked really dangerous for the hosts.

45'

๐Ÿ”ฅ

40'

Bunny bags again!

Sweet finish from the in-form Jamaican striker - her 19th of the campaign... She's catching Hemp up!

Weir does really well to keep the ball in at the by-line and cuts back for the forward, whose deft touch flicks past Moloney.

Lovely stuff.

Open
38'

Just wide!

Weir tries a daisy-cutter from distance, which creeps towards the far post but drags narrowly wide.

Worth a go, especially when you're Caz Weir!

33'

Get in there!!!

Our top scorer strikes again - her 20th goal of the season(!) - driving the ball past Moloney, after Walsh had clipped a superb delivery into her path.

What a player!

Open
32'

Eeek!

What a chance for Reading!

Rose is played through with an inch-perfect through-ball and outmuscles Bronze en route to goal (no mean feat!) but smashes wide of the nearpost. A let-off!

Open
30'

Close!

Reading defending for their lives, as City step up a gear.

Stanway and Blakstad both have efforts blocked before Hemp embarks on a trademark run, leaving Royals defenders in her wake, before drilling into the side-netting.

Open
25'

Wing wonders

Kelly and Hemp have switched wings and the tweak almost pays off immediately, as Kelly cuts inside from Shaw's pass and curls goalward  - but it's straight at Moloney.

Open
21'

Ahhh!

Kelly with a free-kick delivery. Shaw and Hemp rise highest in the six-yard box but they get in each other's way a little and the ball sails wide.

20'

Intriguing

Twenty minutes gone. Still no goals but it's been an entertaining affair: very open with action at both ends.

Roebuck has been untroubled so far but Reading are looking threatening on the counter-attack, while City are having a lot of joy through the middle - just need to sharpen up in front of goal.

10'

Nice and calm

City have enjoyed the lions' share of possession so far and have passed the ball around well.

It's a big pitch - if a little bobbly - and we're finding a lot of space at times. At the moment, just feeling our way into it, looking for that opening, being patient...

5'

Best fans in the land and all the world

Great atmosphere for this WSL finale - the City fans are in good voice as ever.

Plenty of sky blue in the stands. Given the men's game later on, it's a credit to their unwavering loyalty.

2'

Bright start

City looking bright here from the off - Hemp has an early chance to stretch her legs down the left. She looks to cross for Shaw but it's hacked away at the nearpost.

11:57

Here we go... ๐Ÿ™Œ

For the final time in 2021/22, out come the two teams for FA Women's Super League action!

Reading in their traditional blue and white hoops; City in our navy third kit.

'Sweet Caroline' blasts out over the tannoy (thanks, guys!) - an omen for Caz Weir to shine today?

There's also a guard of honour and shirt presentation for WSL legend Brooke Chaplen.

11:52

A chance to shine ๐ŸŒŸ

Though Gareth Taylor asserts his side are looking no further ahead than today with a Champions League place on the line but it's also a chance for players to stake their claim for a starting spot in next weekend's FA Cup Final.

As if competition within this squad wasn't high enough!

11:47

Special K ๐Ÿ’ฅ

It's been great to have Chloe Kelly back in action over recent weeks, as she's made a welcome comeback from her ACL injury.

Though she says it will take a while for her to get back to her best, she has already made an impact with two goals and three assists!

She'll be hoping to contribute again today and will take inspiration from the fact she has scored six league goals against Reading - more than she has against any other side. Only Fran Kirby (7) and Vivianne Miedema (12) have more goals versus Reading in WSL history.

11:39

View from the press box ๐Ÿ’ป

It's a gloriously sunny day here in Berkshire.

I'm quite high up in the press box at the back of the stand but I have a terrific view.

The players are warming up directly below me - it's currently shooting practice.

Keira Walsh has just unleashed an absolutely exquisite volley into the top corner. It earned deserved acclaim from the rest of the squad, including Assistant Coach Alan Mahon who shouted: "Keira Waaaaalsh!" I could hear it from up here!

11:36

G star โญ

Georgia Stanway has scored five goals in 10 away matches this season for City โ€“ only two players have scored more than five away from home in a season for the Club: Nikita Parris in 2018-19 (12) and Pauline Bremer in 2019-20 (6).

11:27

Captain's pride ๐Ÿ’ฌ

Houghton also reflected on City's season:

โ€œSince Christmas, itโ€™s been an unbelievable run. From a personal point of view, itโ€™s been frustrating [with injuries] but itโ€™s been easier coming here and watching the girls play well with the run weโ€™ve been on.

โ€œItโ€™s been very special to watch and itโ€™s all down to the girlsโ€™ hard work behind-the-scenes, putting the performances in week in, week out, and to have had fans back is amazing.

โ€œAll players want to play and we want to get into that top three and win another trophy. Weโ€™re two games away from that.

โ€œWe had a tough start with injuries. Itโ€™s important that people know these girls are winners. Even when results were not going our way, we were trying to do the right things and without a doubt, this team plays the best football in the league.

โ€œThe results are now coming for us. Thank you to the fans for sticking with us. Weโ€™ll do all we can to make sure at the end of the season, we give everybody what we want: a Champions League place and FA Cup at Wembley.โ€

11:20

The last meeting โšฝ

Two goals in the final 20 minutes earned City a 2-0 win at the Academy Stadium against Reading in March, continuing a run of form that was propelling Gareth Taylor's side up the table.

Demi Stokes' first goal of the season broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute before Lauren Hemp tapped home to double City's lead and guarantee a vital three points.

11:13

Houghton hails 'amazing' Bardsley ๐Ÿ’™

Earlier this week, City and England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley announced her retirement from professional football, calling time on an incredible career which has spanned two decades.

Our second signing when the Club turned professional, KB has played an integral role in our success during her eight-and-a-half year spell and has been a true trailblazer in the women's game: a key part of its remarkable rise.

Captain Steph Houghton paid tribute to her long-standing teammate:

โ€œI donโ€™t want to get too emotional but we started this journey together and KB has been an unbelievable professional, as well as an amazing teammate and friend.

โ€œShe deserves these plaudits. Sheโ€™s an absolute legend and she should be proud of everything she has achieved. Itโ€™s a privilege to be her teammate and weโ€™ve shared some amazing memories.

โ€œWithout her, we would not have won the trophies we have won. Thereโ€™s a reason why sheโ€™s regarded as the worldโ€™s number one and thatโ€™s down to her hard work, dedication and will to win.

โ€œSheโ€™s the ultimate professional in the way she has represented this Club and weโ€™re going to miss her.

โ€œI know what she has been through and I know she will be successful after her football career. We wish her luck in whatever she chooses to do next.โ€

11:01

Team news and tactics ๐Ÿ—’

Gareth Taylor makes two changes to the side that thrashed Birmingham in midweek, as Julie Blakstad and Chloe Kelly replace Demi Stokes and Hayley Raso.

Ellie Roebuck takes her place in goal, shielded by a backline of Julie Blakstad, Alex Greenwood, Alanna Kennedy and Lucy Bronze, while Keira Walsh protects the back four in defensive midfield.

Caroline Weir and Georgia Stanway occupy midfield, flanked by Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly, and Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw leads the line upfront.

Vicky Losada makes a welcome return to the bench, having not featured for City since February.

10:56

Did you know...? ๐Ÿ‘€

City have won 14 of our last 17 away FA WSL matches. None of our last 24 away games outside of London (W20 D4) have ended in defeat since a 1-0 loss at Liverpool in May 2018.

10:47

Gareth Taylor ๐Ÿ’ฌ

โ€œThe players have been very diligent and showed great desire. The team have worked so hard in getting us here and everyone is determined to finish the job off properly.

โ€œItโ€™s down to perseverance and hard work. Everyone has worked tremendously hard to turn the season around. We have done that. Weโ€™ve got one trophy in the locker and potentially another next week. Everyone wants Champions League football at this Club.

โ€œThere is nothing really [for Reading] to play for apart from pride and trying to earn a win. We have to be mindful of that.

โ€œWe had success in the home fixture. They are a dangerous team. They work tremendously hard. We need to attack the game in the right manner, make sure we are switched on with and without the ball.

โ€œWe understand the danger โ€“ not just in terms of qualifying for the Champions League, but also in terms of finishing strongly. We have gone 12 wins in a row and this is chance to build on the record we set last season.โ€

10:41

Today's opponents ๐Ÿ”ต

Reading sit eighth in the FA Women's Super League, having won seven of their 21 games. However, they are winless in their last nine league fixtures - a run that stretches back to early February.

City are unbeaten in all bar one of our 11 league games against Reading (W8, D2) and have never lost an away league match against them in six previous visits (W5 D1) โ€“ in WSL history, only Arsenal's trips to Bristol City and Liverpool (nine games each) mark better runs on the road without losing. 

10:34

A season of two halves ๐ŸŽข

On the final day of the league campaign, it's a good time to reflect on what has been a bit of a rollercoaster season.

Given the start we had with injuries, disappointing results, limited pre-season preparation and the impact of some controversial decisions, it's quite a remarkable achievement that City find ourselves on the brink of third spot and Champions League qualification.

Our form since the turn of the calendar year has been nothing short of sensational. We have won 20 of our last 22 games in all competitions, including our last twelve in succession with a 41-5 aggregate score.

The return of some key names has obviously played a part but Taylor's side have found our rhythm and have played some scintillating football, and our fourth Continental Cup success - an impressive 3-1 comeback win against Chelsea provided a welcome confidence boost.

If we are to win today and clinch third place, it will be nothing short of what this team deserves. Throughout those challenging times, the squad pulled together and dug in, and now we are reaping the rewards.

Makes you wonder how our season would have panned out if we'd have started as brightly as we'd have finished... but still, a Champions League place and potentially two trophies - with the FA Cup Final next week - would mark one of our most successful seasons ever. 

10:15

It's matchday! โšฝ

Greetings from the Select Car Leasing Stadium. Caroline Oatway here, reporting live from Berkshire for today's FA Women's Super League finale.

Gareth Taylor's side face Reading today in a noon kick-off as the 2021/22 league campaign draws to a close - and there's plenty at stake with City chasing the final Champions League spot.

We'll have live coverage of the game right here in the Matchday Centre: pre-match build-up and game updates.

Then, head over to mancity.com and our official app for post-match reaction from Head Coach Taylor and a player, as they reflect on the clash and the season as a whole.

Team news will land at 11am UK time so stay tuned. Come on, City!

Other games that day

  • West Ham United Women0
    Arsenal Women2
    FT
  • Chelsea Women4
    Manchester United Women2
    FT
  • Aston Villa Women0
    Birmingham City Women1
    FT
  • Tottenham Hotspur Women1
    Leicester City Women0
    FT
  • Brighton and Hove Albion Women1
    Everton Women1
    FT

As it stood

P GD Pts
1 Chelsea Women 22 +51 56
2 Arsenal Women 22 +55 55
4 Manchester United 22 +23 42
5 Tottenham Hotspur Women 22 +1 32
6 West Ham United Women 22 -10 27
7 Brighton and Hove Albion Women 22 -14 26
8 Reading Women 22 -19 25
9 Aston Villa Women 22 -27 21
10 Everton Women 22 -23 20
11 Leicester City Women 22 -39 13
12 Birmingham City Women 22 -36 11
Link To Full Table