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Manchester City 1-0 Reading

The Royals fought valiantly against a superior Manchester City team.

Reading largely kept the 5-3-2 from facing Tottenham, but you could argue it was closer to a 3-4-1-2, with both James and Fishlock playing deeper. Cooper came back into the side to replace Emma Mitchell, and Rachel Rowe returned after suspension.

City overloaded the wing in the 5-3-2, with the defence stretched

The problem was that Manchester City's 4-3-3 stretched the three centre-backs, with Kelly and Hemp starting against the touchline. Reading's wing-backs offered little support as they pressed high, worrying far more about City's full-backs. When Reading gain possession further up the pitch they were liable to be countered on, with City getting numbers forward quickly. And that was coupled with the fact that some sloppy errors led to big chances too. Reading were lucky not to be three or four down by the time they had their first shot - 25 minutes into the match.

It was a change of shape that allowed Reading enough of a foothold to actually have that shot on goal. Chambers switched to a 4-2-3-1. That gave the two centre-backs less to worry about, as they were insulated from the wide forwards by Leine and Woodham, while The Royals' wide midfielders were the ones to focus on Bronze and Stokes. Those extra bodies in midfield contributed to Reading winning the ball high, with Fishlock able to slip through Eikeland. It's a chance that she, really, should have buried, but as we know Eikeland is not adept at finishing chances.

Leine isn't quick enough to track the run of Weir

The change in formation also put less pressure on Leine. Reading's centre backs track players fairly high - slightly odd in a formation with two defensive midfielders - but they don't seem to have the pace to get back into position. Bartrip seems to put herself in the right position the majority of the time but maybe Leine hasn't had that consistent game-time needed to get up to speed. On a few occasions, she was lagging behind the play.

It must be said that it didn't seem to matter what the formation was, Chloe Kelly managed to find enough space to cause Reading problems, especially in the first half. No Reading defender seemed to be able to deal with her. It was only Moloney in goal that kept the score down. Moloney was impervious. She may have had an issue at Bristol, but she kept her team in the game for long stretches.

The goal, while a great piece of play by Hemp, was a defensive failing on the part of many players. James and Harding turned over possession before both made half-hearted tackles to stop Hemp's run. Maybe worried about giving a penalty away, and Leine could have felled the winger before she even got that far. I think Bartrip probably got a little too deep, rather than being in the right passing lane.

At the end of the day, a 1-0 loss is not a terrible result, but it was a score of Manchester City's making. Another tight game against the big four should have ended up more like games against Chelsea or Arsenal than 


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