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Reds' Women derail Crewe Ladies in league opener...

Reds’ Women derail Crewe Ladies in league opener...Never-say-die Reds kick off with a League win at Crewe.

Despite appearing to be up against it for most of the match, FC United women carried out a Smash & Grab operation against Crewe Alexandra Women at the Cumberland Sports Ground for the second season in a row. Just before Christmas, FC came away with a point earned by a Kirsty Chambers injury-time equaliser. However in this league season opener, the Reds went one better and came away with all three points thanks to Kate O’Gara’s 88th minute winner for her second goal of the game, aided and abetted by a crucial penalty save by keeper Chloe Ainsworth from ex-FCer Laura Garner to keep her team in the game at 2-1 down in the second half before Chambers found the target again to level the scores at 2-2.

There were indications early in the game that this was likely to be an end-to-end contest. Team captain Chambers, returning after missing last week’s FA Cup win over Wakefield Trinity, whipped over a low shot-cum-cross from wide on the left that just eluded Maxine Smith at the far post.

Meg Booth set down a marker for the home side with a shot over the bar. Soon afterwards, Jordon Bailey made a run into the right side of the Crewe area but lost her footing as defender Loren Cooper came across to challenge. Smith then brought an excellent diving save from Crewe keeper Holloway with a well struck shot from outside the box.

Crewe went close twice more with Redmond finding the side-netting with a shot from the left side of the box and then Evans putting over a testing cross from the left wing that proved tricky for Ainsworth to deal with, taking a catch just under the crossbar.

Crewe took the lead on 32 minutes with Booth racing through and managing to put a shot through the legs of the advancing Ainsworth.

However the Reds were level three minutes later as an attack down the left saw the ball knocked back to Kate O’Gara on the left who, despite being some way out from goal, saw her chance and let fly with a shot that flew just inside the far post.

Chambers had a chance to put FC into the lead by making space for a shot on the left side of the box but firing over. And two minutes before the break, Booth restored the lead for Crewe with her second of the match. Chelsea Patient didn’t manage to make the desired contact with an attempted defensive header and the ball fell for the Crewe player to score from the edge of the box.

It had to be said that the score at half time reflected the balance of play with the Reds somewhat off-key in the first 45 minutes.

There was no immediate improvement in the early part of the second half. Booth made a bid for her hat trick, cutting in from the left along the by-line only to find her shot blocked by Ainsworth. But within minutes Booth, on the attack again, was cut down by Chelsea Patient and the referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Former FC midfielder Garner stepped up and struck the kick firmly to Ainsworth’s right but the Reds’ keeper got herself across to turn it aside and fortune favoured FC as Crewe left winger Dawson fired the rebound across goal.

Kamran Hussain sought to take advantage of the lifeline with two substitutions, sending on Allisha Marsh for Clancy, followed shortly afterwards by Natalie Richardson for Smith.

Garner had a chance to make amends for missing her chance from the penalty spot by going for goal with a free kick from some way out. But again she was foiled by Ainsworth who did well to gather the ball under pressure before immediately using it to set her team off on attack, ending with Chambers sending a ball over from the left that Holloway in the opposing goal did well to pluck out of the air.

Chances started to come thick and fast with Holloway blocking a break from Bailey at the edge of the area. Chambers then fired over the bar with an attempt from a free kick about 30 yards out.

Ainsworth again reacted well, racing out of the area to clear a long ball that substitute Fallon was in pursuit of. FC United took up possession and launched an attack that ended with Bailey trying to place a shot past Holloway that struck the keeper and bounced to safety off the post as if to compound the growing feeling that maybe this wasn’t to be the Reds’ day.

That was quickly dispelled though as the hard-working Corie Mather on the left found Chambers with a ball to the far side of the area. The FC captain checked back inside and found the inside of the post with a left foot shot to level at 2-2.

The Reds clearly weren’t satisfied with just a point. Richardson attempted an overhead shot from the edge of the area but didn’t manage to get enough power behind it to stretch the keeper. Crewe then attempted to hit back and their next attack saw an under-power header back towards the keeper but Ainsworth managed to gather it from the feet of Fallon but was injured in the process, needing a few minutes to recover.

With two minutes remaining, FC got within range of goal again and took a dramatic late lead as Kate O’Gara stretched to dig out a shot that looped over the stranded Crewe keeper into the net.

Crewe immediately responded by taking off left back Evans in favour of Duckworth and going with three at the back for the remainder of the game. As the game moved into injury time, Dawson tried to use the element of surprise with a long range snap shot but, fortunately for FC, Ainsworth was alive to the threat and gathered the ball comfortably as the Reds held out for a memorable victory against another side expected to be at or not too far off the top of the league this season.

Next Sunday, October 18th, sees FC United back in FA Women’s Cup action with a trip North East to face Norton & Stockton Ancients in a second qualifying round tie. Kick off 2pm.

Report by Phil Bradbury

FC Player of the game: Kate O’Gara - one of several FC players who put in a tireless performance, particularly in the second half but her two well-taken goals had an obvious decisive impact on the result.

North West Women’s Regional Football League Premier Division at Cumberland Sports Ground.
Teams: Sunday 11th October 2020: Attendance: 71

Crewe Alexandra Women: 2 (2)
1. Hannah Holloway
2. Katie Nuttall (C)
3. Kate Evans
4. Jess Sheridan
5. Kiera-Melek Altintas
6. Loren Cooper
7. Meg Booth (Goal 32 & 43 minutes)
8. Laura Garner
18. Beth Grice
20. Seren Redmond
11. Jess Dawson
9. Amanda Fallon (for no11, 67 minutes)
19. Grace Duckworth (for no3, 89 minutes)

FC United of Manchester Women: 3 (1)
1. Chloe Ainsworth
14. Rebecca Cork
3. Emily Marsh
4. Caitlin Clancy
5. Chelsea Patient
6. Cara Fields - 50th game for FC United women
7. Corie Mather
8. Maxine Smith
20. Kate O’Gara (Goal 35 & 88 minutes)
10. Jordon Bailey
11. Kirsty Chambers (C) (Goal 80 minutes)
12. Allisha Marsh (for no4, 52 minutes)
25. Natalie Richardson (for no8, 58 minutes)
2. Abbie Wright
23. Beth Hayes
24. Hanna Wilson

Referee: Eddie Beresford
Match day photographs by Mark Lee

First Posted ~ 16:59 Tue 13 Oct 2020
News ID ~ 8806
Last Updated ~ 17:00 Fri 19 Feb 2021