County Cup Magnificent Seven for FC’s Women at Leigh RMI
As Manchester United’s Reserves were hosting and losing to Reading in the main stadium, FC United’s Women were kicking off in the shadow of the monolith in the adjacent Athletics Stadium at the impressive Leigh Sports Village on Sunday afternoon.
After falling behind to a strike on 41 seconds from Rachel Jones the reds rallied superbly to hold a 3-1 lead at the break with a Chloe Wild strike being sandwiched between two from Kirsty Chambers. The second half followed a similar theme of red supremacy and dominance of proceedings as United scored a further four without reply courtesy of Jess Battle, a hatrick strike from Chambers, Beth Tattersall and Shellby Wolstencroft deep into added time.
United looked to press Leigh back from the host’s kick off but following a throw deep in their own half the Claret & Blues launched the ball over the top and Rachel Jones gambled between the United back line and outrushing Amy Gillingham to poke the ball into an empty net from 18 yards with the game less than a minute old.
With something to hold onto, wave after wave of red pressure was thwarted by a combination of solid keeping from Berni Savory and a high line defensive tactic from the home side but on 25 minutes FC’s dependable Captain finally forced the equaliser. Driving from a central midfield position Chambers was buffeted and challenged as she drove into the area and let fly over the raised arms of Savory much to the relief of the red contingent present.
As the half wore on, Leigh earned some welcome respite winning a corner headed goalward by Becky Blackburn with the ball dropping kindly to Louise Sumner who forced Gillingham into a superb reflex save as Chambers cleared the rebound. Inspired by their near miss, Leigh pressed again winning another corner from which United broke on the counter attack with Abbie Carrington threading a superb pass between the Leigh centre halves for Wild, at full tilt, to round the keeper and fire home from tight angle giving the reds a deserved lead on 40 minutes.
On the stroke of half time, Chambers made it 3-1 with the goal of the game. Tattersall, rampaged down the right and centred a superb ball that evaded and wrong footed Savory for the Captain to acrobatically side foot volley back across the keeper’s direction of travel and into the back of the net.
United began the second half where they left off and a Chambers cross from the left was misjudged by Savory but deflected just behind Wild as Morgan McWhirter fired goalward with Savory recovering well and facing her own goal clipped McWhirter’s shot over the bar with an outstretched boot. As the hour mark approached, Battle maintained her impressive record of scoring in every appearance she has made since joining the club last month. Jinking her way through several challenges and into the area, the striker curled a stunning shot beyond the keeper’s dive and in at the far post for United’s fourth of the afternoon.
Jess McCarrick forced Savory into another fine save before Chambers danced her way goalwards rounding the keeper with a covering defender clearing the Leigh lines but a minute later Chambers secured her 12th FC hatrick, beating the disciplined offside trap to fire unerringly past Savory on 72 minutes.
With County Cup games allowing roll on roll off subs, the reintroduction of Tattersall saw her resume her terrorising of the Leigh defence with lightening pace taking her beyond the defence latching onto an Amy Vyas through ball, rounding the on rushing Savory and firing home from an acute angle for FC’s sixth of a drizzly afternoon.
Into the last 10 minutes and FC didn’t let up in the slightest as Battle and Wolstencroft drew fantastic saves from Leigh’s keeper and best player on the day and deep into stoppage time Savory ventured forward to add an aerial threat to a late corner for the home side. However United cleared the danger and broke at pace with Wolstencroft rounding the last defender holding a high line on half way to fire home into an empty goal from 40 yards in the 96th minute; the late late strike being FC’s 99th goal of the campaign so far. Referee Emily Aldridge brought the game to a close from the restart and the 7-1 victory sees the reds into their second semi final of the season as they continue their press on three fronts with two months of the campaign remaining.
As it stands there is no game next Sunday and the Women are away to in-form Warrington in the League on 5th March before hosting Wigan Athletic at Broadhurst Park in the Argyle Cup semi final a week later. If you haven’t done before, now is a great time to start following the fortunes of our Women in their pursuit of honours and all support is always much appreciated. Thank You.
Report by Rob Fullen
FC Player of the game: Kirsty Chambers – playing a more central roll the Captain led by example and against a determined home defence, scored the breakthrough equaliser before going on to secure her 12th FC hatrick.
Teams 19th February 2017: Attendance: 68
FC United of Manchester Women: 7 (3)
13. Amy Gillingham
20. Morgan McWhirter
2. Fran Davies
3. Abbie Carrington
6. Mia Holden
17. Jess McCarrick
18. Chloe Wild (Goal 40 mins)
19. Allisha Marsh
10. Beth Tattersall (Goal 78 mins)
11. Kirsty Chambers (Capt) (Goals 25,45,72 mins)
14. Jess Battle (Goal 59 mins)
4. Olivia Greenhalgh (for No6 64 mins)
6. Shellby Wolstencroft (for No19 46 mins) (Goal 90+6 mins)
12. Amy Vyas (for No10 46 mins)
16. Leah Dolan (for No20 64 mins)
Roll on Roll Off:
No10 for No18 75 mins
No19 for No11 75 mins
Leigh RMI Ladies: 1 (0)
1. Berni Savory
18. Sam Smith
7. Vikki Bent (Capt)
10. Mel Sumner
14. Jessica Iddon
5. Rachel Leonard
11. Rachel Jones (Goal 41 seconds)
6. Joanne Wood
4. Faye Whittaker
19. Kerryn Hill
9. Louise Sumner
8. Vicky Monaghan
20. Becky Blackburn (for No6 35 mins)
Referee: Emily Aldridge
Asst Referee: Lukas Cox (Yellow flag)
Asst Referee: Shengke Zhe (Orange & Yellow Flag)
Venue: Leigh Sports Village, Leigh