After two postponements and a change of venue, FC United finally managed to progress in the Women’s FA Cup against Divisional rivals Morecambe Ladies FC at Broadhurst Park, thanks to a brace of goals from Kirsty Chambers added to one each by Robyn Hartley and Kate O’Gara. The Shrimpers became FC United Women’s 50th different opponent since the team was inaugurated in 2012.
A frustrating first half saw the Reds, missing the prolific scoring talents of Jess Battle following who was on holiday, struggle to break down opponents who, without threatening much themselves, appeared to be playing a containing game in the hope of catching FC out on the break. However the floodgates opened early in the second half with skipper Kirsty Chambers pouncing on defensive uncertainty to put her team in front, quickly followed by the hardworking Robyn Hartley making it 2-0. Morecambe briefly threatened a comeback when a terrific strike from Robyn Hodkin reduced the arrears, but Chambers restored the two goal margin almost immediately before Kate O’Gara hammered in a fourth from outside the area to cap a fine win.
It took a quarter of an hour or so for the game to really come to life when Chambers jinked past two defenders but her shot was comfortably saved by Morecambe keeper Katie McTague, who was in for a busy afternoon. Chambers was back on attack not long after, chasing a long ball down the inside-right channel. The initial danger was blocked but the Reds stayed on the attack, which ended with O’Gara skipping past another defender but firing wide.
Cara Fields won a ball in the Morecambe half and played it wide to Robyn Hartley on the left who was off target with a shot across goal.
There were further chances for Chambers, who fired wide from another Hartley cross, and Jess McCarrick tried her luck from distance but McTague gathered easily.
The last chance of the first half fell again to Chambers in pursuit of a bouncing long ball downfield which she volleyed on the run producing another save from the visiting keeper.
It seemed clear that persistence and patience would be the key for FC. Jordan Bailey looked to set the tone soon after the restart, going wide with a low shot on the run. However the deadlock was broken on 50 minutes as Chambers lifted a ball over the advancing keeper. Morecambe defender Emily Hutton was able to reach the ball and block its goalward progress but couldn’t get it clear and Chambers, following in, stretched to turn it into the unguarded net.
Having had a fairly untroubled first half, Chloe Ainsworth in the FC goal was called into action as Morecambe looked to strike back quickly, stooping to save from Katherine Oldfield. Action quickly switched back to the other end as FC doubled the lead. Hartley, having fired a number of dangerous looking crosses over in the first half, opted for the gentle approach as she was put clear on left side of the box, rolling a shot just inside the far post for 2-0.
The situation called for Morecambe to come out of their hitherto defensive shell and they started to threaten the FC goal more frequently. Robyn Hodkin put a shot wide before Becky Whittingham lofted a ball over from the right that had Ainsworth scrambling to cover her right hand post before dropping to her knees to smother an angled shot coming in from the far side. Whittingham was put through again by striker Nat Broad but Chelsea Patient got across the area smartly to block a shot.
The Shrimpers’ enterprise appeared to have brought reward on 76 minutes when Hodkin took everyone by surprise with a shot from some way out that eluded Ainsworth’s leap and went in off the underside of the bar, cutting FC’s lead to 2-1.
But the two goal margin was almost immediately restored. A quick passing movement saw the ball travel between several FC players and was rounded off by Fields giving it to Chambers to fire in a low shot from the left that found its way under the keeper’s dive for a 3-1 lead.
Such a quick response appeared to have knocked the stuffing out of Morecambe. Samantha Ball, introduced as a substitute in the second half, was keen to make her mark as she tried her luck direct from a free-kick with a shot Morecambe were clearly not expecting, which McTague was stretched to save. The other FC sub, Yvette Loukes, put Chambers in sight of goal with a quick pass into the right side of the Morecambe box. The skipper initially found her way blocked but there was a short spell of something resembling pinball as the ball rebounded around the area. Finally the ball was half cleared but fired back first time by Kate O’Gara from about 25 yards, fizzing into the net before McTigue had a chance to react, making the final score 4-1.
The Reds’ reward is a home tie against Brighouse Town this coming Sunday October 13th 2019 at Broadhurst Park. Kick off 2pm as usual.
Report by Phil Bradbury
FC Player of the game: Robyn Hartley – a well-deserved goal capped 90 minutes of tireless running in the effort to break down stubborn opposition.
Women’s FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round
Teams 6th October 2019: Attendance: 73
FC United of Manchester Women: 4 (0)
1. Chloe Ainsworth
2. Fran Davies
3. Emily Marsh
5. Chelsea Patient
6. Cara Fields
20. Kate O’Gara (Goal 81 minutes)
8. Maxine Smith
10. Jordon Bailey
17. Jess McCarrick
16. Robyn Hartley (Goal 54 minutes)
11. Kirsty Chambers (Capt) (Goals 50 & 77 minutes)
14. Yvette Loukes (for No10, 65 minutes)
4. Samantha Ball (for No8, 69 minutes)
Morecambe Ladies FC: 1 (0)
1. Kate McTeague
2. Laura Callis (Capt)
12. Bethany Fisher
3. Leah Hinchcliffe
4. Robyn Hodkin (Goal 76 minutes)
5. Emily Hutton
6. Becky Whittingham
17. Katherine Oldfield
10. Georgia Lupton
9. Nat Broad
15. Amy Cambray
7. Shannon Primrose-Smith
14. Sophie Fish
(For No3 & No15, 65 minutes)
Referee: Stephen Clegg
Venue: Broadhurst Park
Official FC photography: Mark Lee & Samantha Coates
Film Footage & Historical Stats from Neil Boothman
FC United stats first column:
Shots on target: 9...........5
Shots off target: 11..........5