FC United welcomed Penrith AFC to Broadhurst Park on Sunday with the visitors sharing a similar start to their league campaign to FC’s Women; winning 5 from 5 without conceding a goal in Division 1 North with the reds winning 4 from 4 in Division 1 South also without conceding. Today, in the first round of the Argyle Sports League Cup, something had to give as the reds began their defence of the trophy they lifted last May.
The occasion was very special for the Women as they were playing their first competitive game inside the ground and every credit to Graham and the ground staff for maintaining a superb surface despite the best efforts of the recent weather including Storm Brian that had been battering the country over the weekend.
United treated the 188 spectators to a goal fest and led 4-0 at the break with a Jess Battle brace, the No9 having the distinction of scoring the first competitive goal inside our ground with her goals sandwiching strikes from Kirsty Chambers and Fran Sullivan. Straight after the break Sullivan scored number 5 and 6 completing her hatrick before Cara Fields got in on the act. Battle scored her third followed by two more from Chambers with Nicole Hatcliffe rounding off the scoring in the 74th minute.
To the strains of ‘Bring on United’ led by The FanZone Barmy Army, referee Lee Robinson and his Assistants led both teams onto the pitch and Penrith got the contest underway with FC gaining a foothold right away attacking the SMRE through the centre. Gemma Jackson cleared long from her 18 yard area with Olivia Greenhalgh controlling well and spraying the ball wide right to Yvette Loukes. The young winger exploited the space well and centred to the feet of Battle who turned superbly and fired into the bottom corner just beyond the despairing dive of Michelle Jones to register hers and the team’s first competitive goal in the ground; sparking a celebratory ‘pile on’ from her teammates.
No sooner had the game restarted and Captain Chambers was on the score sheet as the threat this time came down the left and her shot across Jones nestled in the far bottom corner and the reds were 2-0 to the good inside 5 minutes.
A shell shocked Penrith settled for containment and despite dominant possession by the reds, almost attacking at will, the Penrith team worked really hard to close down and keep United at bay with Jones saving them on many occasions also. The visitors did show some attacking intent but the defence of Fran Davies, Jess McCarrick and Abbie Carrington backed by some decisive sweeping from keeper Gemma Jackson comfortably dealt with any incursions towards FC’s back line.
Eventually FC pressure told and in the last few minutes of the half, after going close a minute earlier Sullivan latched onto a through ball and lofted it over the advancing Jones from 15 yards who despite back peddling could not prevent United’s third from setting in the back of the net on 39 minutes.
Just two minutes before the break and Battle bagged her brace and FC’s fourth with a superbly taken goal driving across a near post defender to meet an excellent cross from Loukes and fire first time over the keeper.
The first thirty minutes of the second half saw United ruthlessly grab a further seven goals the first only 36 seconds after the restart. Loukes powered past two defenders and drove to the bye-line cutting the ball back to Sullivan whose initial shot was well saved by Jones but rebounding back to Sullivan who calmly slotted home for her second of the afternoon. United added two more before the hour as first Sullivan completed her hatrick curling a sublime effort into the top corner from the edge of the area.
Sullivan then turned provider as she swept a lovely pass towards the back post where the excellent Cara Fields slotted home with aplomb.
Just past the hour and Battle registered her hatrick as Chambers broke down the left driving into the area and squaring unselfishly for the FC number 9 to calmly pass the ball home.
Chambers herself scored the next two to register her first and the team’s third hatrick of the afternoon. The Captain swept in a corner and Battle controlled and played the ball back out wide for Chambers to cut into the area, work herself an angle and fire unerringly across and over Jones for goal number 9. Two minutes later and Chambers drove down the left once more and this time, rather than squaring for a teammate saw the opportunity present itself to bury the ball into the bottom corner.
The final goal of the afternoon was scored by Hatcliffe after a series of swift interchanged passes just outside the Penrith area resulted in Sullivan threading a pass through the centre of the visitors defence eagerly anticipated by Hatcliffe who took full advantage to register FC’s 11th.
Penrith, to their credit never gave up on the contest and they kept United at bay for the last quarter hour with the hard working and dynamic Rebecca Foster sensing an opportunity from 35 yards which crashed off the bar and was gratefully gathered by Jones as Hatcliffe and Battle closed in.
We wish Penrith AFC all the best for the rest of their season as we look forward to a 2nd Round Tie against the winners of Northwich Vixens v Burscough which fell afoul of the weather this weekend.
Big thanks to the club, ground staff, volunteers, bar staff, stewards and all supporters for helping make the day a special one and adding more fond memories to the FC scrap book.
Next Sunday, 29th October, United return to league action and welcome fellow unbeaten side West Didsbury & Chorlton to Broadhurst Park 3G with a 2pm KO. A fair few new supporters saw a tremendous display inside the ground against Penrith and if you liked what you saw why not give this top of the table clash a try. All support is always very much appreciated, thank you.
Report by Rob Fullen
FC Player of the game: Cara Fields
– the opposition also concurred with this and in a performance littered with really good performances throughout the side, Cara just edged things with a pivotal display in the middle of the park.
Teams 22nd October 2017: Attendance: 188
FC United of Manchester Women: 11 (4)
1. Gemma Jackson
2. Fran Davies
3. Abbie Carrington
17. Jess McCarrick
18. Cara Fields (Goal 53 mins)
4. Olivia Greenhalgh
7. Fran Sullivan (Goals 39, 46, 52 mins)
8. Rebecca Foster
16. Yvette Loukes
11. Kirsty Chambers (Capt) (Goals 4, 65, 67 mins)
9. Jess Battle (Goals 2, 43, 61 mins)
3. Fliss Winters (for No3 60 mins)
5. Chelsea Patient
6. Mia Holden
10. Beth Tattersall (for No16 71 mins)
15. Nicole Hatcliffe (for No 4 64 mins) (Goal 74 mins)
Penrith AFC Ladies: 0 (0)
1. Michelle Jones
2. Jess Nelson
3. Jade Williams
4. Charlotte Smith (Capt)
14. Olivia Johnson
16. Cheryl Brierley
7. Sophie Nutter
8. Hannah Coulthard
9. Becca Alderson
10. Ruth Hopton
11. Sarah Smith
6. Heather Fawkes (for No8 65 mins)
15. Georgia Campbell (for No16 57 mins)
17. Zoe Glendinning (for No2 71 mins)
Referee: Lee Robinson
Asst Referee: Jordan Dennett (Yellow & Orange Flag)
Asst Referee: Mark Slee (Yellow Flag)
Venue: Broadhurst Park, Main Pitch, 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: 25...........0
Shots off target: 16...........2
Completed Passes: 478.........115