FC United Women suffered their first 90-minute defeat of pre-season after being on the wrong end of a 5-1 scoreline, away to FA Women’s National League Division 1 Midlands side West Bromwich Albion Women, on Sunday afternoon. Despite taking the lead in the 19th minute through Sarah Chadwick’s strike, the game turned out to be nothing more than a pre-season test for United who unfortunately came away with nothing for their efforts on the day.
Playing under relatively overcast Midlands’ skies, the game got underway to start United’s fifth matchday of their 2018/19 pre-season campaign. Both FC’s attacking and defensive strength was on show in the win at Brighouse Town seven days earlier, but it was the latter that was put to the test by the Tier 4 side in the early exchanges of this one; Chloe Ainsworth the busier of the two keepers, first showing concentration to rush off her line and claim a dangerous through-ball before saving low a low strike that was angled towards her bottom right corner.
After absorbing the early pressure, it was the Reds who broke away on 19 minutes to take an early lead. A swift counter attack saw Jess Battle linkup with strike partner Sarah Chadwick, Battle’s lobbed through-ball finding Chadwick who powered forward before finding the net with a fierce strike, despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts.
Moments after going ahead, captain Kirsty Chambers sliced a shot over the target, in her first game starting since July 15th, having been found out on the left by another dangerous aerial ball over-the-top of the Albion defence.
From here on, chances were to be of a minimum in the half for FC as West Brom appeared to shift up the gears. Fran Davies was alert to this, preserving the Reds’ narrow lead with a strong sliding block. Moments later, O’Keeffe replaced Chambers due to injury.
In the ten minutes leading up to the half time whistle, it was to be triple delight for the hosts. 16 minutes after going behind, they were level with a rebound to a strike that had original crashed off the underside of the bar finding it’s way in. Albion then went in-front from the spot on 42 minutes before doubling their lead with the last kick of the half to go into the break with a 3-1 lead.
Podmore’s side would have been determined to overturn their first half misfortunes early in the second, but that task became a harder one to carry out with Albion finding the net for a fourth time, exactly a minute into the second period of play. A fearsome strike from range beating Ainsworth to give the National League side a three-goal lead on 46 minutes.
Ten minutes later the hosts got their fifth and final goal of the day, after a superb individual break was finished at the back post by the Albion winger.
The Baggies looked to have this game tied up but it didn’t stop a resilient showing from Luke Podmore’s Reds in the final half-an-hour of the encounter. Chambers returned in place of the goalscorer Sarah Chadwick, with FC looking to close down the deficit in the latter stages of the game.
Having just been re-introduced, good pace on show from Chambers allowed her to whip in a cross from the left that fell to Cara Fields on the edge of the box. Despite the midfielder’s neat footwork to send the defender to the ground, her eventual shot was collected by the Albion shot-stopper.
Chadwick then returned in place of Mather as FC continued to search for a second. Valiant work from Olivia Greenhalgh maintained possession that eventually allowed Rebecca Foster to try her luck from range, the midfielder’s shot was lifted just over the bar as the rain began to get heavier at the Walsall Campus of the University of Wolverhampton.
From that moment on, we were into the final seconds with the ref not long after blowing time on another good pre-season workout for United. A strong performance from the hosts and a further strong test for the Reds as Luke Podmore’s side continue to prepare for the upcoming 2018/19 season, that is now less than two weeks away.
Before it all kicks off, FC travel to Wales next Sunday (19th August) to take on Cardiff City Women in what will be their final pre-season test ahead of the new campaign - stay tuned to our social media platforms (@FCUnitedWomen) for further details regarding the game, over the coming days.
FCUMW Player of the Match - Olivia Greenhalgh - On a testing day at the office for FC, the midfielder continued to carry out her role in both an attacking and defensive sense, creating opportunities going forward for FC with a string of incisive through-balls, whilst being alert enough to cut them out going the other way. A tireless pre-season performance in the middle of the pitch, from our no.4.
West Bromwich Albion Women: 5 (3)
Lineup not known.
FC United of Manchester Women 1 (1)
19. Chloe Ainsworth
5. Chelsea Patient
2. Fran Davies
3. Abbie Carrington
7. Corie Mather
4. Olivia Greenhalgh
8. Rebecca Foster
11. Kirsty Chambers (c)
6. Cara Fields
16. Sarah Chadwick (Goal 19 mins)
9. Jess Battle
15. Aimee O’Keeffe (For No 11 33 mins)
Roll on roll off:
No11 for No16 (61 mins)
No16 for No7 (77 mins)
Venue: Walsall Campus, University of Wolverhampton (WS1 3BD)
Official FC photography by Mark Lee
Film footage and historical stats by Neil Boothman
Social media updates by Mikey Partington
Report by Mikey Partington