On FC’s AGM day the Women’s Team provided post meeting football fayre but not in the form of a goal fest as the game against Altrincham earlier in the season, when the reds triumphed 13-1, might have suggested. Instead, a stuttering performance brought about by some not insignificant and unusual circumstances coupled with a fired up and well drilled opposition saw Altrincham leave Broadhurst Park with a creditable point as the game finished 1-1. Nicole Hatcliffe gave United a half time lead before Kyeshia Brown swept home a 40 yarder on 68 minutes to level the match showing that previous results matter for nothing in this ‘funny ol’ game’ of ours.
On a cold bright winter afternoon, Luke Podmore was forced by injury and illness into making changes to his recent settled starting 11 and after losing Captain Kirsty Chambers and defender Fliss Winters inside 20 minutes to injuries that required a joint trip to Tameside General, to be replaced by a bench containing just two players this week; it was always going to be a more challenging afternoon for the league leaders than usual.
United kicked off and the pattern for an even encounter was established very early on as the first threat came from Altrincham’s striker Laura Kelly with Winters defending well to clear her lines with composure. United countered with a cross into the area from Chambers, comfortably dealt with by the defence before Fran Sullivan fired in long range effort, easily gathered by Esther Hernandez in the visitor’s goal.
On 5 minutes Chambers rode a challenge as she drove goalwards but injured herself in the process and could take no further part being replaced by Abbie Carrington. No doubt, the departure of FC’s talismanic Captain gave the visitors a psychological boost and from the restart they poured forward resulting in Georgina Ashton firing wide of Gemma Jackson’s goal.
Carrington settled into the left wing back role and straightaway made a difference combining well with Winters and crossing into a crowded area where Sullivan and Jess Battle almost profited and put in a valid shout for a penalty as an Altrincham defender appeared to shield the ball with her arm. With nothing doing from the referee Altrincham cleared their lines and the chance evapourated.
United drew a foul on the edge of the Altrincham box and Sullivan tested Hernandez who pulled off a crucial save and just after the quarter hour Captain Chelsea Patient raided down the right crossing first time and unusually Battle’s first touch was loose allowing a defender to punt the ball clear. The resultant counter attack ended in an Altrincham corner and an injury to Winters who herself had to withdraw from the action to be replaced by Hatcliffe.
Just past the half hour Olivia Greenhalgh played the ball into Battle who managed to evade the defensive shackles that had kept her largely quiet to this point but she couldn’t evade a covering well timed sliding challenge that arrived just as the No9 was eyeing up a strike on goal.
Rebecca Foster struck just wide from range as United became guilty, likely as a result of losing two team mates, of forcing the issue rather than acting and relying upon the instincts that have served them so well this campaign. Altrincham earned a free kick wide right and Brown lofted the ball into the area with Jackson holding well before launching United forward. Mia Holden swept a lovely pass wide right which Sullivan chased down well firing in a first time cross from the bye line. Hatcliffe gambled superbly and raced ahead of her near post defender nicking her shot beyond the dive of Hernandez to give united a 35th minute lead.
This settled the reds down somewhat and they began to play in a more cohesive and recognisable manner with Sullivan firing another cross into the six yard area which just evaded the slides of Battle and Beth Tattersall and the half ended with the slenderest of advantages.
Altrincham knew they were well in the game despite United having the better of possession and chances in the first 45 minutes and from a corner early in the second half Nadine Sproule directed a a header goalwards forcing Jackson into an excellent one handed save. United responded well with Hatcliffe sliding one effort just past the post and firing another into the side netting as Altrincham defended tirelessly to keep the reds at bay.
Once more Sproule was first to a header from a corner and was this time denied by the cross bar with Battle completing a grateful clearance and midway through the half Brown lofted a speculative long range effort over the United bar that turned out to be a prelude for her forty yard effort on 68 minutes that this time dipped over Jackson and into the back of the net sparking delirious celebrations from the visitors.
Hatcliffe raced onto a through ball as United looked to respond and despite turning her defender in the area and getting away her shot, Hernandez stretched with agility to palm the ball around the post with Patient’s header from the corner going wide of the near post.
United pressed for a winner with Greenhalgh striking from range and with virtually the last kick of the game, the tireless Hatcliffe earned a free kick 25 yards from goal. All in attendance held their collective breath as Sullivan stepped up curling the ball over the wall and with Hernandez beaten the cross bar saved the visitors, denied FC a victory and Altrincham held on valiantly to record a creditable draw.
As thoughts extend to Kirsty and Fliss for a speedy recovery, next Sunday, 26th November, United, still unbeaten and looking to bounce back, welcome Warrington Wolverines to Broadhurst Park followed a week later by the visit of Liverpool Marshalls Feds Reserves for our last pre Christmas home game. Get yourselves to our football. Thank You.
Report by Rob Fullen
FC Player of the game: Fran Davies
– in arguably her busiest game to date this campaign, Fran intelligently nullified threats in and around the area and could do nothing about the goal that was struck far beyond the boundaries of her usual jurisdiction. Mentions also to Nicole Hatcliffe
who scored the goal and looked the most likely to grab a winner with Mia Holden
growing into the game effectively, particularly in the 2nd half, and completing her first 90 minutes of the season.
Teams 19th November 2017: Attendance: 111
FC United of Manchester: 1
1. Gemma Jackson
2. Fran Davies
12. Fliss Winters
5. Chelsea Patient
6. Mia Holden
4. Olivia Greenhalgh
7. Fran Sullivan
8. Rebecca Foster
10. Beth Tattersall
11. Kirsty Chambers (Capt)
9. Jess Battle
3. Abbie Carrington (for No11 6 mins)
15. Nicole Hatcliffe (for No12 20 mins & Goal 35 mins)
Altrincham FC Ladies: 1
1. Esther Hernandez
2. Kyeshia Brown (Goal 68 mins)
3. Georgina Ashton
16. Bliss Molyneaux
5. Louise Edleston
6. Aimee Hopkinson
21. Hannah Shufflebotham
7. Jessica Hartopp
8. Gail Simpson
9. Jade Hesketh
18. Laura Kelly
12. Megan Rowley (for No18 25 mins)
15. Nadine Sproule (for No9 39 mins)
17. Melisaa Williams (for No7 90 mins)
23. Courtney Williams (for No 12 63 mins)
Roll On Roll Off Changes:
On No 18 Off No15 (90+2 mins)
Referee: Frank Gallagher
Asst Referee: Dan Adelman (Yellow & Orange)
Asst Referee: N/K (Yellow)
Venue: Broadhurst Park, 3G, Lightbowne Road, Moston, Manchester M40
Official photography by Mark Lee &Samantha Coates
Film Footage from Neil Boo
Social Media Updates from Mikey Partington
Match Stats by Paul Hinson from: click here
FC United stats first column:
Shots on target: 9.............4
Shots off target: 15...........2
Completed Passes: 375.........179