New Manchester United boss Marc Skinner had chills down his spine as Kirsty Hanson scored the opening goal in her side’s 2-0 win over Reading.
The strike – also the premiere of the new Barclays FA Women’s Super League season, came in the 39 e minute of a contest that seemed to be as much a celebration of the fans’ return to Leigh Sports Village as a compelling curtain raiser for the Reds.
No one was seated after Hanson jumped on a deep pass from Ella Toone, nor when Ona Batlle’s blazing second-half effort sailed into the top corner.
“I loved meeting the fans and hearing them for the first time,” Skinner said.
“I tried cutting them off for a minute while I tried to focus, but the red wave was there, and they gave us wonderful energy at times.
“The two goals also gave me goosebumps for different reasons.
“The interaction was brilliant for the first goal, and there was exceptional ability and finish for the second.
“I just had to get up and cheer for both goals.
“I really hope the fans enjoyed it, and now we can go to Leicester with a concentration of steel.”
The visitors almost put the brakes on Skinner’s opener.
Brooke Chaplen met Rachel Rowe’s smart pass, only to narrowly shoot over the edge of the box.
United’s first real opportunity came to Leah Galton, who skied a routine effort after goalkeeper Grace Moloney misjudged Lucy Staniforth’s cross.
Staniforth herself came close seconds after being booked for hitting Natasha Harding, before United struck in the 39th minute.
Ella Toone’s precise deep ball was encountered by Kirsty Hanson who clinically cut her in front of Moloney.
The second half started off with a blazing start, with Chaplen hitting a formidable shot against the underside of the crossbar at one end, causing nearby Reading players to protest that the ball had crossed the line as it rebounded.
But it was finally United who were added to the scoreboard, doubling their lead two minutes later.
Toone circled Ona Batlle, and she stabilized before hitting home an 18-yard angle shot in the 54th minute.
The Royals ran out of steam in the final stages, with sub Martha Thomas the closest to adding a third third as Skinner’s team made it home.
And although the new gaffer is delighted to get the three points, he refrained from naming the first favorites of his new team.
He said: “There are so many wonderful players on this team, and now they have to continue to develop their personality.
“I can’t tell anyone of course, but they are at Manchester United, remember that and they know what is expected of them.”
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