Manchester United 2-0 Reading: Kirsty Hanson and Ona Batlle net in WSL opener as Marc Skinner claims debut win

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Ona Batlle celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Reading in the WSL opener  (The FA via Getty Images)
Ona Batlle celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Reading in the WSL opener (The FA via Getty Images)

Manchester United beat Reading 2-0 as the new Women’s Super League (WSL) season kicked off on Friday night.

Kirsty Hanson and Ona Batlle were on target either side of the interval as United won their first match under new head coach Marc Skinner, who was appointed as Casey Stoney’s successor on a two-year contract back in July.

As well as being United's first competitive outing under Skinner, and the curtain-raiser for the new top-flight season, the match was notable as the first WSL contest to be shown live on Sky Sports, as part of the division's new broadcast deal.

After players from both teams took a knee prior to kick-off, prompting applause from the crowd at the stadium, Kelly Chambers' Reading made a lively start that included Brooke Chaplen hitting a shot over.

United's first real chance came in the 22nd minute when the visitors miscued as they tried to deal with a ball into the box and Grace Moloney's attempted punch fell to Leah Galton, who was unable to get her strike on target.

With the home side starting to find some rhythm, Lucy Staniforth - having been booked for a challenge on Reading skipper Natasha Harding - then sent a shot off-target from just outside the box.

And soon after United were in front as England’s Ella Toone played a delightful through ball and Hanson slotted into the corner of the net.

Reading's subsequent search for an equaliser saw Chaplen crack a shot against the United bar six minutes into the second half.

As the ball came down off the bar and bounced it looked as if it had possibly crossed the line, but referee Abigail Byrne and her assistants allowed play to continue.

Moments later, United doubled the advantage as Batlle received the ball from Toone and sent a fine shot high past Moloney.

United might have added further to their lead, with substitute Martha Thomas sending two efforts wide.

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

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