Chloe Kelly scored a late winner for Manchester City to keep their Women’s Super League title challenge on course after a nail-biting encounter with Reading at the Academy Stadium.
Lauren Hemp’s superb solo run set up Kelly to tap in from close range in the 87th minute.
An 11th straight WSL victory moves City a point above title rivals Chelsea, who host struggling Aston Villa on Sunday.
Reading drop to seventh place, a point behind Brighton.
City looked destined for a frustrating evening as chance after chance went begging in the first half, with Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney putting in an impressive performance and making numerous saves.
Hemp smacked the post when she was set up by Georgia Stanway, before the latter missed a golden opportunity from close range.
There were also chances for Lucy Bronze and Caroline Weir, while USA international Rose Lavelle had a shot tipped over the bar by Moloney early on.
Reading’s Amalie Eikeland forced a smart save from opposing goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck as the Royals held a threat on the counter-attack and they looked set to earn a point for their tireless defensive efforts before Kelly eventually broke the deadlock.
City boss Gareth Taylor had called for a response following his side’s Champions League quarter-final first-leg defeat by Barcelona and, despite being made to wait, this result ensured City maintain a strong foothold in a two-horse race for the title.
Their time at the top could be brief, though, as defending champions Chelsea will return to the summit should they beat relegation-battling Villa.
The only downside to City’s win was the substitution of recently-returned defender Demi Stokes shortly into the second half – she went down with an apparent injury before heading immediately down the tunnel with a member of staff.
Man City Women
- 20BronzeBooked at 45mins
- 3StokesSubstituted forMorganat 59′minutes
- 21LavelleSubstituted forMewisat 62′minutes
- 10StanwaySubstituted forWhiteat 68′minutes
- 11HardingBooked at 40mins
- 5BartripBooked at 90mins
- 14CooperBooked at 86mins
- 28WoodhamBooked at 47mins
- 4WilliamsSubstituted forCarterat 68′minutes
- 23RoweSubstituted forHarriesat 82′minutes
- 9EikelandBooked at 78mins
Match ends, Manchester City Women 1, Reading Women 0.
Second Half ends, Manchester City Women 1, Reading Women 0.
Molly Bartrip (Reading Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Chloe Kelly (Manchester City Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Molly Bartrip (Reading Women).
Goal! Manchester City Women 1, Reading Women 0. Chloe Kelly (Manchester City Women) left footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lauren Hemp.
Deanna Cooper (Reading Women) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Esme Morgan (Manchester City Women).
Danielle Carter (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Manchester City Women. Conceded by Grace Moloney.
Substitution, Reading Women. Emma Harries replaces Rachel Rowe.
Foul by Alex Greenwood (Manchester City Women).
Natasha Harding (Reading Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Ellen White (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Caroline Weir.
Attempt missed. Caroline Weir (Manchester City Women) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Chloe Kelly.
Amalie Eikeland (Reading Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Lucy Bronze (Manchester City Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Amalie Eikeland (Reading Women).
Attempt missed. Samantha Mewis (Manchester City Women) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Lauren Hemp with a cross.
Attempt missed. Ellen White (Manchester City Women) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Lucy Bronze with a cross.