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2018/19 Season Review: FC United Women

A look back at FC United Women’s 2018/19 campaign with our season review!

September - Off the back of a treble winning season in 2017/18 and a successful pre-season campaign, FC United Women got the team’s seventh season off to a strong start with a 6-0 win against Didsbury FC Ladies in the First Qualifying Round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup. Five of FCUMW’s summer signings made their debuts in the game at New Mills, including Sarah Chadwick and Aimee O’Keeffe who started and finished the scoring respectively.

Prior to the Second Qualifying Round, the Reds got life in the NWWRL Premier Division underway with a 7-0 win against Fleetwood Town Wrens in-front of the home fans. A week later, the FA Cup returned and despite the lengthy journey to Oughtibridge, the Reds looked well at home, emerging as comfortable 4-0 winners in the North East. Luke Podmore’s side then rounded off the month with an impressive come from behind win against Merseyrail Ladies in the league to make it six points from six and two wins from two at the Broadhurst Park Stadium since it was named FCUMW’s permanent home from the 2018/19 season onwards.

October – The early season FA Cup regularity continued into October as the Reds made Club history by booking their place in the First Round proper for the first time, after dismantling Bridlington Rovers LFC 13-0 at Broadhurst Park, with Jess Battle scoring a record seven goals in the win. United’s Manchester FA Women’s Challenge Cup defence got underway with a walkover win against Crompton Open Age Ladies before a first defeat of the season, a 4-1 loss away to eventual league winners Stockport County LFC to close out the month.

November – FC got back to winning ways in some style to kick-off November, an explosion of creativity and attacking threat on the eve of Bonfire Night saw the Reds run rampant at home to Tranmere Rovers Ladies; an 8-2 win. A historic afternoon followed with United hosting National League North side Chester-le-Street Town Ladies in the First Round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup at Avro FC’s Vestacare Stadium, but the Reds’ FA Cup journey came to an end with defeat on Remembrance Sunday at the hands of their higher league opponents. Well-fought wins at Wigan Athletic Ladies and Accrington Girls & Ladies followed as the Reds returned to league action by putting six more points on the board.

December – 2018’s final month had just the sole game with United rounding off another successful year for the Club with a 5-0 thrashing of Mossley Hill LFC. Jess Battle’s hat-trick and strikes from captain Kirsty Chambers and Kate O’Gara were enough to secure a comfortable win and ensure a second-straight unbeaten calendar year at Broadhurst Park for FCUMW, as the league headed into the festive break.

January – The start to the new year wasn’t as straight forward, however. An abandoned league game at Merseyrail Ladies saw the Reds draw 4-4 in Merseyside, with the game confirmed as a draw by the league later in the year. The next step on the Reds’ quest to win a third successive Manchester FA Women’s Challenge Cup was a little simpler however, as United won 12-0 at Sale Ladies FC, a week after the Argyle Cup defence had also got underway with a walkover win against Burscough Dynamo LFC.

February – Back-to-back 3-0 wins on the Broadhurst Park 3G over Manchester Stingers and Blackburn Community meant another three points for the Reds in the league and a place in the Argyle Cup quarter-finals was secured. Because of various cup runs, the Reds were lagging behind in league games played compared to their competitors but quickly started to rise up the league in the following months, aided by a joint season-high 13-0 win at home to Accrington Girls and Ladies in which Kirsty Chambers netted eight times. A gritty 1-0 victory on the road at Mossley Hill LFC followed with the skipper again on the scoresheet.

March – Aimee O’Keeffe’s five-goal haul played a central part in a 7-0 win away at Sir Tom Finney Ladies before the Reds booked their place in the Manchester FA Women’s Challenge Cup Final in dramatic fashion following Emily Marsh’s 86th minute winner in a 4-3 semi-final win at West Didsbury & Chorlton Women. FCUMW then went from one cup to another and overcame Penrith AFC Ladies in the Argyle Cup quarter-final with Emily Marsh on the scoresheet for a second game running.

April – A season-high crowd of 167 watched United reach a third Argyle Cup Final in three years at Broadhurst Park, as Jess Battle’s brace helped to defeat Merseyrail Ladies. Three days later, that number was topped as an all-time FCUMW Broadhurst Park Stadium record of 218 packed into the SMRE to watch the Reds come from behind to beat league leaders Stockport County LFC under the midweek lights. A Kirsty Chambers penalty and Cara Fields’ roofed finish were enough for all three points in the Reds’ first midweek outing of the season.

A league win against Wigan Athletic Ladies followed before mixed double-header against Penrith AFC Ladies saw United win the first game 6-1 before being held to a 1-1 draw in the second game of the afternoon. FC got back to winning ways at Manchester Stingers WFC in stormy conditions a few days later before a 9-0 win against Sir Tom Finney Ladies saw the Reds close out the final home game of the season in style.

May – Two games on the road brought an end to FCUMW’s league season, including a midweek trip to Fleetwood Town’s Highbury Stadium. The Reds, or Whites on the night, picked up all three points on the seaside beating Fleetwood Town Wrens LFC 2-0 courtesy of strikes from midfield partners Olivia Greenhalgh and Rebecca Foster. United’s league campaign was then brought to a close with a hard-fought 3-2 victory at Tranmere, a few days before the draw in the abandoned game with Merseyrail Ladies in January was judged to stand at 4-4, meaning the Reds impressively finished their first ever season in the fifth tier of women’s football in second place with 53 points from 20 games.

The league season may have been over but Luke Podmore’s side had a cup double firmly in their sights as they attempted to win both the County and League Cups for the third year running. Part one of the mission was completed when the Reds overcame the newly formed Salford City Lionesses 4-0 at Brookburn Road, with Emily Marsh, Kirsty Chambers, Olivia Greenhalgh and Aimee O’Keeffe all getting on the scoresheet.

Part two wasn’t as straightforward but was also ticked off later that week. On paper, it didn’t seem like the Reds could win a trophy in much more dramatic fashion than they did when defeating Stockport County LFC in the corresponding Final at Millbank Linnets Stadium twelve months earlier, but rest assured they did. Despite Olivia Greenhalgh’s early opener, United went into the closing stages of the game 2-1 down before Kate O’Gara popped up with a stoppage time equaliser in the final seconds of the game to send it into extra time. From then on United were on top and it was O’Gara again who headed in the decisive goal less than 60 seconds into the extra period, before Cara Fields and Jess Battle also struck to help United round off another top-quality campaign by completing a cup double.

That game turned out to be Luke Podmore’s final game as FCUMW manager, after he announced that he would be stepping down from his role at FC United Women later that week. Once again, on behalf of everyone at FCUMW, we would like to thank Luke for everything over the last two-and-a-half years and wish him all the best for the future. What a way to go out!

June – With 2018/19 now complete on the pitch, this month we will have the chance to celebrate the last twelve months before looking ahead to next season. Our annual Presentation Evening will take place at Broadhurst Park this month (date and time TBC). We hope you can join us!

Be sure to stay tuned to our social media platforms (@FCUnitedWomen) for confirmation of those details and for all the latest news and updates.

By Mikey Partington

First Posted ~ 17:23 Sat 1 Jun 2019
News ID ~ 8414
Last Updated ~ 23:45 Thu 4 Feb 2021