Manchester City raced out of the blocks and almost took the lead inside the first minute as Georgia Stanway released Nikita Parris down the right; the England international cut inside finding Jill Scott whose first time flick found Stanway whose hard struck effort was blocked away.
Two minutes later Parris and Stanway combined again as the teenager rolled an effort just wide of the post. Stanway then turned provider as she won back possession inside the Reading half, picking out Caroline Weir on the left whose first time cross flashed just wide of the post.
Reading responded with an effort of their own as Steph Houghton was adjudged to have handled just outside the area but Fara Williams could only blaze her effort over. It was Ellie Roebuck who eventually made the games first save as she cleanly held onto Charlie Estcourt’s hard effort.
City came even closer on 13 minutes as Weir weaved in and out on the left hand side, finding Stanway in the area, her low cross along the six yard box was almost turned home by Tash Harding for an own goal before Jo Potter eventually cleared off the line.
City continued to look for an advantage and came close to taking the lead on 29 minutes as Walsh and Stanway combined for a 1-2 with the latter forcing an excellent save from Grace Moloney at her near post.
The deadlock was broken on 33 minutes as Reading twice failed to completely clear from a City set piece before Stanway, amid rumours of an England call up and with manager Phil Neville watching in the stand, drilled into the top corner from 30 yards.
City pressed for a second, Stanway going close again on the half turn after a positive drive forward from Tessa Wullaert.
Reading’s best chance came in first half stoppage time as they worked the ball from the right, finding Brooke Chaplen whose quick spin saw her get her shot off but it was easily taken by Roebuck in the City goal to ensure it remained 1-0 at half time.
Reading made a half time change as Jade Moore replaced Charlie Estcourt and immediately the visitors found themselves on the front foot. Three times City were warned as, first, Chaplen fired just over from the edge of the area. That was followed by Fara Williams effort was cleared off the line by Gemma Bonner. Houghton was then called into action to block another Chaplen effort at the near post. Any respite for City was brief was Jade Moore levelled from the resulting corner with a powering header to bring Reading level after just 50 minutes.
With the scores level City had a further let off as Chaplen fired over first time from inside the six yard box. City clawed their way back into the game as Wullaert’s pass found Scott who drove forward before finding Stanway with an inch perfect passs inside the full back but the teenager could only hit the keeper with her scuffed effort. Seconds later she dragged another effort wide, this time, from a Parris through ball.
City re-found their rhythm as Maloney was twice called into action to deny City. The first time saw Parris waltz through the Reading defence with the Reading keeper toeing her low effort round the post. Moments later she got her finger tips to a low Wullaert cross to deny Parris but took both the England international’s boots to her face for her trouble.
Five minutes of additional time brought more drama as Wullaert cut in from the right before driving a hard effort off the middle of the crossbar from 20 yards out. Weir, so influential in the first half but anonymous in the second half dragged a free kick over the bar after Wullaert had been fouled. City went close again in stoppage time through Scott but Reading held on to earn a deserved point.