FC United Women got back to winning ways in style in the league on Sunday, putting on the perfect all-round display on the eve of Bonfire Night, to beat the previously unbeaten Tranmere Rovers LFC 8-2, at Broadhurst Park.
Five goals from striker Jess Battle along with a strike two minutes in, from Kirsty Chambers and a finish from Cara Fields, two minutes from the end, along with a first half Rebecca Foster penalty ensured that FCUMW picked up a big three points in the league, in-front of the home faithful.
The Reds went in to the game looking to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at Stockport County, a first competitive defeat since September 2017. Luke Podmore made two changes to the side that lined up at Stockport Sports Village, Gemma Jackson replaced Chloe Ainsworth in goal for the Reds with Corie Mather coming in to the starting XI in place of Hannah Dale. Emily Marsh was also named on the bench for the first time since joining the club in the summer, having recovered from injury.
The Reds were forced in to kicking towards the SMRE for the first half having been turned around by the visitors but that didn’t stop Luke Podmore’s side getting off to the perfect start. Leading by example, captain Kirsty Chambers took the ball on just inside the box, beat the defender and fired in to the far bottom corner.
A tightly contested spell in the game followed, but the Reds went close to doubling their lead around the 15-minute mark. Corie Mather’s low cross in the direction of Jess Battle was turned behind for a corner before Rebecca Foster’s header from the resulting corner was collected by the goalkeeper.
If the Reds couldn’t make it 2-0 on that occasion, they did on 23 minutes. Rebecca Foster’s lobbed through-ball met the run of Jess Battle who pushed it past the defender before coming out on top in the one-on-one duel with the Tranmere keeper.
United certainly looked up for this one, and it showed after a trio of strong tackles from Foster, Greenhalgh and Carrington continued to assert FC’s dominance in the game.
That dominance was then deservedly rewarded, with the Reds scoring two quick fire goals to make it 4-0, just before half-time. McCarrick displayed neat footwork to win United a penalty that Rebecca Foster converted before Jess Battle calmly placed home her second of the afternoon.
Foster then had an eye for goal, having found the net moments earlier. The midfielder tried her luck following a short corner on the left, her shot tipped over the bar by the goalkeeper.
Tranmere came out on top then, but Battle doubled her tally either side of half time to put the Reds in to a comforting 6-0 lead. First the striker rolled past the goalkeeper having been presented with the opportunity by Jess McCarrick who remarkably turned defence in to attack on the break. On the other side of the break, a trademark Kirsty Chambers low cross found the feet of Battle who slid home United’s sixth of the afternoon.
The visitors get two back themselves, Georgia Walters and Olivia Hulmston finding the net for the visitors, 52 seconds apart.
If there was any concerns, Jess Battle put them to bed less than two minutes later. The striker raced forward before confidently placing past the Tranmere goalkeeper to get her fifth of the afternoon and United’s seventh, on 62 minutes.
Luke Podmore then used all three of his substitutions, within a quick five minute stint. First, a nice moment at Broadhurst Park as Emily Marsh came on to make her FC debut having recovered from injury, replacing Corie Mather. Then a double sub made by FCUMW as Malpus and Jein came on in place of O’Gara and Chambers.
Off the bench, Shaunna Jein made her presence on the pitch known. Having been slotted in by Cara Fields, she couldn’t quite connect with the through-ball before linking up with the midfielder moments later, but this time poked her effort wide of the far post.
The Reds did get their eighth of the game, just before the full time whistle, however. Cara Fields going from desired provider to goalscorer, powering home a bouncing ball in to the bottom corner, after it had fallen to her on the edge of the box.
Following two minutes of added time, the referee blew time on an entertaining encounter as the Reds got back to winning ways in style, in-front of the 97 in attendance on a breezy Autumn afternoon at Broadhurst Park. Next up for FCUMW is a historic SSE Women’s FA Cup First Round tie against Chester-le-Street LFC, next Sunday (11th November). The game will be played at AVRO FCs home, despite it being a home tie for the Reds, with further details to be announced via our social media platforms, later this week.
FCUMW Player of the Match: Jess Battle - It just had to be didn’t it?! Special mentions to Rebecca Foster and Cara Fields who controlled the game from midfield, but this week’s award goes to our no.9. Battle was as lethal as ever in-front of goal, scoring five in the game, also playing a key role for United as the first line of defence, in a tireless performance from start to finish.
FC United of Manchester Women: 8 (5)
1. Gemma Jackson
20. Kate O’Gara
2. Fran Davies
3. Abbie Carrington
7. Corie Mather
4. Olivia Greenhalgh
8. Rebecca Foster (Goal (pen) 34 mins)
11. Kirsty Chambers (c) (Goal 2 mins)
6. Cara Fields (Goal 88 mins)
17. Jess McCarrick
9. Jess Battle (Goals 23, 36, 45, 47, 62 mins)
19. Chloe Ainsworth (GK)
14. Nicole Malpus (On for No20 68 mins)
12. Shaunna Jein (On for No11 68 mins)
5. Emily Marsh (On for No7 63 mins)
Tranmere Rovers LFC: 2 (0)
1. Katy Maddock
2. Hannah Ouldred
3. Amie Neale
4. Georgia Wood
5. Lindsey Smith
6. Laura Evans
7. Georgia Walters (Goal 58 mins)
8. Candice Nellist
9. Olivia Hulmston (Goal 59 mins)
10. Elisha Price
11. Faye Jones
12. Jade Collins
14. Oceia Thomas
15. Jade Thomas
Match stats from Paul Hinson (FC first column):
Shots on target: 13.....3
Shots off target: 7.....2
Completed passes: 416.....148
Venue: Broadhurst Park, Lightbowne Road, Moston, M40 0FJ
Competition: NWWRL Premier Division
Referee: Daniel Woodhead
Report by Mikey Partington