With title favourites, Woolton Ladies, not playing, United took the opportunity to leapfrog them into top spot in their penultimate game of the season with a comprehensive 6-1 victory over Altrincham FC Ladies last Sunday.
First half goals from Shellby Wolstencroft, Beth Hayes and Kirsty Chambers with a reply from Altrincham’s Georgia Plant saw the reds take a 3-1 lead into the break. The second half saw Chambers and Wolstencroft notch a second each and centre half Fran Davies scored a rare goal as United wrapped up a fine victory.
As early as the second minute, Chambers burst down the left wing, cut inside and fired across the six yard area evading everyone as the ball went harmlessly for a goal kick. However the intent was evident from that point on and Chambers rattled the bar minutes later after connecting with a sublime through ball from Beth Scholey. Wolstencroft hit the post and a goal was on the cards as FC’s number nine duly obliged on 10 minutes; Hayes fashioned a superb ball between retreating Altrincham centre halves and Wolstencroft anticipated well, skilfully lobbing the outrushing keeper, Lucy O’Dwyer, to open the scoring.
Despite United’s early dominance Altrincham earned a free kick 25 yards from the reds’ goal, looking for a swift equaliser. Up stepped Plant to curl her effort over the wall and into the top corner beyond the despairing dive of Mary Priestner just three minutes after going behind.
United responded in robust fashion and Wolstencroft came close at the near post from a dangerous Chambers cross. The partnership was thwarted once again but this time at the expense of a penalty as Chambers found Wolstencroft in space in the area and as the striker controlled and turned on goal she was tripped and referee Moore pointed to the spot. Hayes stepped up and calmly slotted the ball to O’Dwyer’s right as the keeper guessed the wrong side and United were deservedly back in front.
Inside the last ten minutes of the half, Chambers made it three following vintage wing play as she surged down the left, cutting inside and firing an unstoppable shot under the keeper from a tight angle.
Altrincham, looking for a way back before the break, almost profited from a good through ball for Laura Kelly but Davies used her pace and anticipated the threat clearing the danger. The visitors earned a free kick in a dangerous area in the dying seconds of the half but the danger was again cleared and United’s 3-1 lead remained intact at the break.
Altrincham were quickly out of the blocks from the restart and almost capitalised on a complacent back pass within 10 seconds and Davies, alert to the threat again, cleared her lines. United soon recovered their composure and control as Wolstencroft slid the ball wide to Chambers who outpaced her full back, taking the ball into the area and blasting her shot beyond O’Dwyer at her near post from 15 yards on 48 minutes.
Great work down the right by Hayes resulted in a cross to the near post where Wolstencroft was unlucky to see her volley go just the wrong side of the post. Hayes went close herself shortly afterwards and Lucy Bonner shot narrowly wide from outside the area as United continued to dominate proceedings.
Chambers, completely unmarked and with the goal at her mercy, was denied by a fantastic save by O’Dwyer at the expense of a corner. The FC captain swung the set piece to the far post where Davies arrived unmarked to help the ball home from close range with twenty minutes to go.
Wolstencroft tackled the last defender 20 yards from goal and chipped the keeper who leapt and got a hand to the effort taking enough off the shot to allow a covering defender to clear. However, O’Dwyer landed awkwardly sparking a medical incident resulting in a 15 minute stoppage. All at FC United wish Lucy a swift and complete recovery from her injury.
After the enforced break, United were soon back into their stride as Hayes worked the ball wide to substitute Jade Parker and her cross found Chambers who was adjudged off side. Scholey slotted a pass through the centre to Parker whose shot was well held by replacement keeper Lizzie Brereton as the game ticked into a lengthy period of stoppage time.
In the 99th minute Chambers burst through centre midfield and played the ball into Wolstencroft who curled her effort beyond the dive of Brereton to notch her second and FC’s 6th of a satisfying afternoon as the referee called time on the prolonged contest just a few minutes later.
Their first season in the North West Women’s Regional League comes to a conclusion this Sunday as the reds face Mersey Girls at Broadhurst Park with a 2pm kick off. United earned their first point on the road last November in a hard fought draw in the corresponding fixture and your support could help the team end the season on high with all three points this time around. Get yourself to our football ground.
Report by Rob Fullen
FC Players of the game:
Kirsty Chambers & Fran Davies – current and former captains were equally impressive, mainly at opposite ends of the pitch, but with both getting on the score sheet. Kirsty put in a vintage performance on the wing scoring her 79th and 80th goals for FC United, whilst Fran was imperious in defence and scored a rare goal guiding a firm drive home from 18 inches.
Teams 10 April 2016: Attendance: 78
FC United of Manchester Women: 6 (3)
1. Mary Priestner
12. Jess Tonge
2. Fran Davies (Goal 68 mins)
5. Olivia Gannon
17. Jess McCarrick
20. Beth Scholey
7. Beth Hayes (Goal 20 mins [Pen])
14. Millie Day
11. Kirsty Chambers (Capt) (Goals 37 & 48 mins)
9. Shellby Wolstencroft (Goals 10 & 90+9 mins)
6. Lucy Bonner
3. Jade Parker (for No6 66mins)
16. Charlie Evans (for No14 46mins)
Altrincham FC Ladies FC: 1 (1)
1. Lucy O’Dwyer
22. Lucy Smith
18. Kyeshia Brown
7. Jessica Hartopp
5. Louise Edleston
16. Bliss Molyneaux
17. Judy Henson
8. Gail Simpson
20. Laura Kelly
10. Alicia Taylor (Capt)
11. Georgia Plant (Goal 13mins)
1. Lizzie Brereton (for No1 80mins)
2. Danielle Bezzina (not used)
4. Kate Bryan (for No8 66mins)
14. Alisha Palmer (for No10 54mins)
21. Heather Scott (not used)
Referee: Kevin Moore
Venue: Broadhurst Park, Lightbowne Road, Moston, Manchester, M40