Manchester City boss Nick Cushing saw his side’s 2-0 win over Reading as a sign they are ready to challenge for the Barclays FA WSL title.
After the departure of Nikita Parris to Lyon, and injuries to Ellen White and now Georgia Stanway, goals looked like they could be harder to come by this season for City who are attempting to win their first top-flight title since 2016.
But Cushing’s side have proved that theory wrong over the past seven days, following up their 7-1 midweek Champions League victory over Lugano with a 2-0 win at Adams Park.
German striker Pauline Bremer scored either side of half-time to hand the Royals their first taste of defeat this season and double up on the two goals she scored in Switzerland on Thursday night.
“Games like that are going to be the difference between us finishing second in the WSL and winning it - we would have drawn this game last season with tired legs due to travel,” said Cushing.
“Being more consistent and turning difficult games into wins is what we need, and we did that.”
Manchester City’s title hopes were dented last season as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Kelly Chambers’ Reading and needed to score four at Adams Park to beat the Royals 4-3 in the return leg.
England international Parris, who scored a hat-trick in that 4-3 win, will no doubt be missed this time around and despite scoring ten goals in their opening three games, Cushing is demanding even more from his players.
“We could have put the ball in the back of the net more, but it gives us something to focus on and to work on,” Cushing added.
“This game was about coming here and playing a controlled game, because we’ve had so many crazy games here where we’ve been 2-0 up - last year we ended the game here crawling over the line because Reading put us under pressure.
“The aim was to come here and control the game and make sure we controlled the space, and we controlled the pressure and the tempo and the intensity of the game.
“I thought the players carried it out perfectly for us, I thought it was almost the perfect performance.”