READING fell to defeat in the opening game of the Women’s Super League season losing 2-0 to Manchester United at Leigh Sports Village.

Goals from Kirsty Hanson and Ona Batlle either side of half time gave Marc Skinner a debut victory reports Ben Waite.

The Royals were denied an equaliser when Brooke Chaplen’s strike crossed the line but without the presence of goal line technology, referee Abigail Byrne was unable to award the effort.

Reading Chronicle:

It was the start of a new era for women’s football with Sky Sports committing to high-end coverage this campaign. The game was broadcast live on main event in front of the watching cameras on Friday night.

As well as the TV crews, it was a monumental return to fans to the WSL.

They were treated to an exciting game and were able to witness three Royal debutants. Faye Bryson, Gemma Evans and Chloe Peplow all featured for 90 minutes after signing for the club while Deanne Rose was an unused substitute. The Olympic champion only linking up with the squad last weekend after success with Canada in Tokyo.

A minute’s silence was held before the game to remember those that both sides have lost since the last game with spectators before the knee was taken to the applause of the crowd in Leigh.

United started the stronger of the sides though it was Chaplen who saw the first effort over.

Bryson was called into defensive duties before Leah Galton fired a golden chance over for the Red Devils from close range.

England international Lucy Staniforth was causing trouble for United and with 39 minutes on the clock, they opened the scoring.

Kirsty Hanson latched on to an Ella Toone through ball to calmly slot past Grace Moloney.

Reading looked to turn the game in the second half, but it was the hosts who again dominated. Using the counterattack however, it looked like the Royals had equalised when Chaplen fired an effort against the cross bar and the ball seemingly bouncing over the line.

Reading Chronicle:

Ona Batlle then cemented the three points for United when she rifled home from the edge of the box for 2-0.

Reading now face a tough fixture with Arsenal in the WSL at the Select Car Leasing Stadium on Sunday.

Reading FC: Moloney, Bryson, Cooper, Evans, Woodham, Peplow, Rowe, Chaplen, Harding (Jeon 71), Harries, Eikeland.

Subs (Unused): Stewart, Rose, Roberts, Lister, Wild