Norton & Stockton Ancients
2 - 1
FC’s Women exit FA Cup in narrow defeat on Teesside.
An early Broadhurst start for the team, management and their faithful supporting cast as the ‘Road to Wembley’ headed North East from Moston to the home of Norton & Stockton Ladies FC; the same home the men had visited on the same date at the same stage of their competition, six years ago.
The hosts, a division higher than FC and like their visitors, undefeated this season going into the cup tie progress to a 4th qualifying round courtesy of their narrow 2-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. Striker Anna Mawston fired the home side ahead on the quarter hour and their lead remained intact going into the break.
United were quickly out of the blocks in the second half with Kirsty Chambers equalising on 47 minutes. Despite several chances the reds couldn’t make their dominance of possession count as the home defence, superb all afternoon, held firm; helped in no small way by Rachel Chisnall between the sticks; making some important saves and forcing some wayward finishing.
The Norton & Stockton winner resulted from a counter attack as Sian Williams raided down the right lofting an early shot over her advancing namesake Chloe on 67 minutes and the aforementioned defensive qualities of the home side slammed the door shut to deny the red’s a way back into the tie.
The hosts kicked off but United showed early ambition with Jade Parker threading a cross into the danger area as the home defence back peddled but cleared well. Both sides enjoyed decent spells of in the opening exchanges with most players getting an early touch of the ball although United were guilty of squandering possession carelessly on several occasions as some nerves took a while to settle.
That said the visitors looked to take the game to their opponents with the first meaningful attack coming down the left as Chambers jinked her way into the area crossing for Chloe Wild whose goal bound volley was well struck but well blocked. United earned a 9th minute corner and Wild worked a short routine with Chambers who cut inside along the 18 yard line shooting just over the angle of bar and post.
Norton pressed forward themselves winning a central free kick 30 yards from FC’s goal which cleared the wall but was held comfortably by Chloe Williams. Just before the quarter hour a good one-two between Chambers and Olivia Gannon resulted in an excellent cross by the Captain which was headed just wide by Shellby Wolstencroft. Chisnall cleared long and Norton won a throw deep in FC territory with the ball coming in from the left, finding its way to Mawston in the ’D’. The tall striker shielded the ball well, turned and shot low and hard through the defence and past Williams into the bottom corner to open the scoring; arguably against the run of play and possession.
The home side enjoyed a spell of ascendancy following the goal and Sian Williams tested her namesake from the edge of the area with Chloe holding well. Gannon was constantly threatening up front but was thwarted on several occasions by robust defending and Wild had a shot on goal well held by Chisnall at her near post.
Wolstencroft swung in free kick from the left and with Parker poised to volley from close range a superb defensive header denied the FC player at the expense of a corner as the red’s sought a way back. The set piece resulted in Parker firing on goal with Chisnall holding comfortably. Norton countered up field with Mawston trying her luck from 20 yards forcing Williams into a good save underneath her bar.
Superb combination play down the right between Jess McCarrick, Parker and Wild saw the latter cross to the far post where Chambers headed just over the bar and just past the half hour the Captain had the ball in the net after good approach play by Wolstencroft but the effort was adjudged narrowly offside.
As the half drew to a close the home side almost doubled their lead with Kate McSorley sliding a ball through to Sam McGovern but the striker scuffed her shot wide under pressure from Fran Davies.
Perhaps feeling a little aggrieved at going into the break a goal down, FC started the second period in imperious fashion and on 47 minutes Chambers levelled the tie with a superb strike following good work down the left from substitute Allisha Marsh resulting in a great pass from Wolstencroft finding Chambers in space to execute her finish.
United pressed forward sensing the momentum and McCarrick’s pass found Gannon through on goal with her shot being well saved; Chisnall smothering well with Chambers on hand if the ball had squirmed loose.
The tireless Gannon was through again a minute later scuffing her shot wide as Chisnall did enough to put her off and with the half less than 10 minutes old striker and keeper came together in a 50-50 sprint to the ball, clashing on the edge of the area leaving both players requiring treatment as reward for their absolute commitment.
The enforced break saw United’s early half momentum dissipate allowing the home side to regroup and the game’s next decent chance fell the way of the amber shirts a little fortuitously. Last defender McCarrick slipped and Mawston took advantage bearing down on FC’s goal but the striker chose to shoot early and her effort drifted harmlessly wide.
Abbie Carrington cleared the ball down the left with Jade Parker earning and taking a corner from which Marsh’s glancing header flashed wide of the far post and away from danger. Gannon, through on goal, was desperately unlucky to see her effort cannon back against her off the keeper and out for a goal kick off the outside of the post.
As if to confirm a growing feeling that this just might not be our day, the long clearance by Chisnall resulted in Williams getting behind the defence down the right and as FC’s Williams raced to clear, the number 7 got there first and lofted the ball goalwards from a tightening angle and her shot floated in perceived slow motion to nestle in the back of the unguarded FC net.
Against the general run of play and chances created, undoubtedly but the home side had their lead and were stubbornly resistant to the very end thwarting every effort by FC United to force extra time. Not unreasonably, after an early start, long trip and outstanding endeavours throughout a very competitive tie, United tired towards the end but, to their credit, kept pressing to the final whistle with Chambers shooting just wide and injuring herself in the process and Marsh forcing Chisnall to make a save with virtually the last kick of the game.
And so, in the same week that the men exited the FA Cup in Harrogate, the women joined them leaving the Youth Team to fly the flag in the FA Youth Cup after their excellent mid week victory over Gateshead. Nevertheless, the Women will have learnt a great deal and benefitted from their first foray into the FA Cup and they left the field in Norton with their heads held high and the applause and appreciation of their travelling fans ringing in their ears and perhaps wondering that on another day it might have been they who were progressing down the Road to Wembley.
Next Sunday FC’s Women look to extend their 100% league record with an away trip to Curzon Ashton with their next Broadhurst clash falling on 23rd October when we welcome opening day opponents Warrington Wolverines once again, this time in the Argyle Cup. Get yourselves to those football grounds.
Report by Rob Fullen
FC Player of the game: Olivia Gannon – Tireless up front and despite a frustrating afternoon in front of goal the striker never gave up, was a willing target and fully engaged the opposition defence all afternoon creating openings for her team mates.
Teams 9th October 2016: Attendance: 125 (Travelling fans: Approx 60)
FC United of Manchester Women: 1 (0)
1. Chloe Williams
17. Jess McCarrick
2. Fran Davies
5. Chelsea Patient
3. Abbie Carrington
6. Mia Holden
16. Jade Parker
10. Chloe Wild
11. Kirsty Chambers (Capt) (Goal 47 mins)
9. Shellby Wolstencroft
12. Olivia Gannon
4. Olivia Greenhalgh (for No16 80 mins)
8. Adora Yau (not used)
18. Amy Vyas (for No 11 90+4 mins)
19. Allisha Marsh (for No10 46 mins)
20. Morgan McWhirter (not used)
Norton & Stockton Ancients Ladies FC: 2 (1)
1. Rachel Chisnall
17. Lizzie Rodger
6. Victoria Hutchinson (Capt)
14. Chelse Beetch
3. Heather Johnson
7. Sian Williams (Goal 67 mins)
11. Paige Hunter
10. Sam McGovern
8. Rebecca Davison
4. Kate McSorley
9. Anna Mawston (Goal 15 mins)
2. Aimee Stabler (not used)
5. Alix Peoples (for No11 68 mins)
12. Ellie Hamilton (for No 10 62 mins)
15. Kelsie Moore (not used)
16. Emily Wilson (for No 8 83 mins)
Referee: Kevin McKitterick
Asst Ref: Not recorded
Asst Ref: Not recorded
Venue: Norton Sports Complex, Station Road, Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, TS20 1PE