Jordon Bailey was the outstanding performer in a superb all-round team performance at Broadhurst Park last Sunday that in the end made light work of determined opposition in Sir Tom Finney FC. ‘Finneys’ arrived at Broadhurst Park languishing in bottom place and still seeking a first league win of the season but nevertheless made the Reds work hard. An early strike from FC skipper Kirsty Chambers settled the nerves with Jordon Bailey doubling the lead just before half time. A double strike from Aimee O’Keeffe midway through the second half made the points safe before Samantha Ball, having come on as a second half substitute, rounded things off with a powerful header in the closing minutes.
Ahead of the action an immaculately observed act of remembrance took place, mirroring football grounds up and down the country on this poignant weekend.
FC United’s first serious attack saw birthday girl Jess McCarrick pulled back by a defender on a surging run into the opposition half. This gave Kaylea Cunliffe a chance to make her mark on her FC debut but her somewhat ambitious shot, direct from the free kick, sailed wide.
We weren’t kept waiting long for the Reds to draw first blood however. McCarrick was involved again, showing good vision to play a ball out for Jordon Bailey to chase down the right. With her pace, Bailey was always favourite to reach it and whipped over a cross that glanced off the head of a defender before dropping to Chambers on the far side of the box who promptly scored from a tightening angle.
FC were quickly back on attack after the restart with a corner on the right. A Maxine Smith header caught the hand of an opponent but the referee dismissed the penalty appeals. And the Reds were almost caught cold as Hannah Taylor-Hill led a break down for Finneys. Although forced wide by Fran Davies, Taylor-Hill was still able to get a pass inside to team-mate Alisha Houghton, whose shot was saved in somewhat unorthodox fashion by Chloe Ainsworth in the FC United goal who managed to trap the ball in her legs.
Ainsworth had to be on her toes again when forced to make a clearance under pressure from a wayward back pass that landed at the feet of Finneys’ Lucy Swift. The FC keeper did well to recover position and make a comfortable save when a return shot came in.
Bailey had the ball in the net with a skilfully executed left foot shot on the spin from Emily Marsh’s pass. Unfortunately the goal was ruled out for offside. Marsh herself brought a good save from Finneys’ keeper Sarah Harrison with one of her now trademark long range efforts.
At the other end Taylor-Hill and Houghton combined again for the visitors. The former taking advantage of some slackness on the part of FC to win the ball in midfield and put her team-mate clear on goal but Houghton’s shot was wide with Ainsworth closing down the shooting angle.
Many in the ground - and on the field - thought that FC had increased their lead when a Kaylea Cunliffe free kick was sent over from wide on the left. The ball took one bounce in the area and hit the underside of the crossbar. Keeper Harrison managed to grab the ball and play was waved on despite appeals from FC players that it had crossed the line.
However that decision was rendered immaterial as moments later the ball was heading back towards the visitors’ penalty area courtesy of Maxine Smith who picked out Bailey with a long range pass with only the keeper to beat, which she did with a low shot. There was one more chance for the Reds in first half injury time when a corner kick ricocheted upwards off a defender. Cunliffe reacted quickly to get in a header that just sailed over the bar. Bailey suffered the disappointment for a second time of having a goal chalked off for offside. This time after a Chambers shot from the right side of the area hit the near post and rebounded across goal for a tap-in.
Finneys set to their task in the second half in a manner that suggested they still believed they could get something from the game. Houghton threatened again, pushing the ball past Samantha Ball to get in a low cross. Keeper Ainsworth superbly snuffed out the danger by claiming the ball amid something of a scramble in the area.
Action switched back to the other end as FC claimed their third goal. Robyn Hartley was the creator with a run down the left before picking out Aimee O’Keeffe on the far side of the box to score. It was all FC for a spell as Cunliffe shot wide from a ball laid back by Bailey and soon afterwards Smith went close with a shot from outside the area. A fourth goal was very much on the cards and came when Bailey played on O’Keeffe to score her second of the afternoon.
Taylor-Hill was by some margin the visitors’ player of the match and was involved again in forcing Chelsea Patient to rush a back pass that was under-hit. It needed quick reactions from Ainsworth to come out and block a shot from the Finneys’ forward, who took a knock in the resultant collision and needed attention before being able to continue.
But there was no let-up from FC. Harrison had to be quickly off her line to scoop the ball up as O’Keeffe looked set to get on the end of a Hartley pass. Then the chance of a free kick within shooting range was eagerly taken up by Samantha Ball, who forced Harrison into a fine save to tip over. However Ball didn’t waste a second chance, meeting the resulting corner with a thumping header that Harrison had no chance of saving and making the final score 5-0.
Although FC dominated the game, the final score didn’t really do justice to the efforts of the Preston-based opponents ... or indeed Chloe Ainsworth who played well to earn herself another clean sheet.
Report by Phil Bradbury
FC Player of the game: Jordon Bailey - scored one, made two and generally a constant thorn in the side of a well-organised Finneys’ team with both her pace and determined tackling in midfield.
Teams 10th November 2019: Attendance: 65
FC United of Manchester Women: 5 (2)
1. Chloe Ainsworth
2. Fran Davies
3. Emily Marsh
15. Aimee O’Keefe (Goal 68 & 73 minutes)
5. Chelsea Patient
16. Robyn Hartley
17. Jess McCarrick
8. Maxine Smith
9. Kaylea Cunliffe
10. Jordon Bailey (Goal 43 minutes)
11. Kirsty Chambers (Capt) (Goal 17 minutes)
4. Samantha Ball (for No17, 50 minutes) (Goal 89 minutes)
12. Ellie Whittle (for No11, 75 minutes)
Sir Tom Finney FC: 0 (0)
1. Sarah Harrison
2. Natalie Jaques (Capt)
3. Megan Mercer
4. Alisha Houghton
5. Amy Hindle
6. Lily Robinson
17. Georgia Parkinson
8. Freya Hunt
9. Lucy Swift
10. Hannah Taylor-Hill
12. Amelia Eastham
7. Charlotte Greenwood (For No6, 75 minutes)
Referee: Mohammad Dilawari
Venue: Broadhurst Park 3G
Official FC photography: Mark Lee & Samantha Coates
Film Footage from Neil Boothman
FC United stats first column:
Shots on target: 10...........4
Shots off target: 7..........3