Cheshire Women's & Youth League, Division Two
Sunday, 29 March, 2014.


Squad - See below


Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.

A warm and dry day welcomed the teams of Altrincham and Runcorn Linnets who were meeting for the first time in this encounter between the teams currently placed third and fifth in the League.

The now customary joint team photograph, (below), resulted in a slight delay to kick-off but, eventually, play got underway on a breezy yet pleasant afternoon.

Sarah, Rachel, Natalie, Brogan and Chloe were unavailable but Hannah had coincided a return home from University with the game and was available for selection.

Unsure of what problems Runcorn might pose, Altrincham reverted to the previously tried 4-1-4-1 formation with a back four of Caroline, Louise, Cyprus and Sam Briggs in front of Lizzie in goal.

Beth occupied a position just in front of the four, the intention being that she would ‘front screen’, offering defensive support at the same time as releasing the midfield to express their creativity.

Sue, Hannah, Gail and Aimee made up the midfield four with Tracey, up front, being supported when possible by the midfield. Subs were Becci, Cloe, Heather, Tallulah and Hayley.

Altrincham began the match and, from the first whistle, appeared keen to try to persevere with the passing football which has been such a feature of the season; this, despite what was to prove a somewhat bobbly and troublesome pitch. On three minutes Beth broke up a Runcorn attack but her attempt to play Tracey in on goal just ran away and out for a goal kick.

Altrincham continued to press and, on five minutes, forced a corner on the left. Aimee’s fine delivery was met by Tracey but the chance went just wide.

Alty, however, were not to be denied and, on eleven minutes, incisive play down the left hand side by Aimee resulted in a cross, which was touched home by Sue for her first Altrincham goal.

It was not all one-way traffic however. On thirteen minutes Cyprus was defeated by the bounce of the ball and a Runcorn attacker strode purposefully onto the ball before unleashing a fine strike toward the top corner of the net. Lizzie, who had clearly got her angles right, hurled herself through the air to magnificently touch the ball over the bar for a corner. Altrincham cleared the corner with no obvious problems and swiftly moved the ball down to the Runcorn end of the pitch.

Aimee, who was having an effective game wide on the left, delivered another excellent cross, which was well claimed by the Runcorn keeper.

The visitors, it seemed, had identified that a combination of bouncy pitch and gusty wind meant that the ball over the top was most likely to be productive and, from one such ball in the twenty-second minute, Lizzie again had to move smartly to come out and sweep up.

Three minutes later, though, and Runcorn were level; a ball through the middle of the Altrincham defence being well finished with a fine strike leaving Lizzie, on this occasion, with no chance.

Altrincham continued to play football, switching play when possible and with Sue, Aimee and the indefatigable Tracey working hard to pressure the visiting defenders.

On thirty minutes the Alty defence cleared a corner and, following a good move down the left, Aimee’s ball to Tracey ran just out of play.

Although it was clear from the increased talking that the equaliser had buoyed the confidence of the visitors it was, nevertheless, somewhat against the run of play when they took the lead on thirty-two minutes.

Another long ball over the top fell to the Runcorn striker Megan Pickering whose first-time left-footed strike went past the somewhat wrong-footed Lizzie into the corner despite her best efforts.

To their credit, Altrincham still persevered with their style of football and, thirty-eight minutes into the game, another excellent passing move almost forced an opening, the ball running through to the visiting keeper again.

Almost immediately though, Altrincham were back on the offensive. An attack from Runcorn was broken up and, following positive play and an incisive pass by Gail, Tracey shot just wide.

Despite arguably having had the better of the first half Altrincham were destined to go into the break with a 3-1 deficit. A cheap free=kick was played into the area and well flicked on to Megan Pickering, who registered her and her team’s third goal right on the stroke of half-time. P> Half-time arrived with Altrincham 3-1 down. Both teams had contributed to a competitive half of football. The home team had been forced into a change by an injury to Aimee and had, arguably, played the better football but Runcorn had been very effective in their work.


HT Rather than express his opinions straight away, Keith asked the players what they thought had gone awry and how they thought the situation could be resolved. There was some discussion, all of it constructive, and the Altrincham team went out for the second half with the resolve to turn the game round.

The second half was barely a minute old when, once again, Runcorn tried to play a ball over and through the middle of the Alty defence. On this occasion though, the danger was easily snuffed out.

The Altrincham players had set about the second half with vigour and had reclaimed the upper hand. On fifty-four minutes impressive battling by Tracey enabled Hannah to place a shot inside the far post and reduce the deficit to 3-2.

The combination of Tracey and Hannah almost bore fruit again four minutes later but, this time, Hannah’s shot was well claimed by the Runcorn custodian.

The home side were new exerting continuous pressure and, on the hour, Heather who had replaced the injured Beth drove a fine shot from thirty-five yards just over the crossbar.

Still Altrincham pushed on. Sixty-four minutes had elapsed when Tracey, running onto an astute through ball, unleashed a fierce drive which was well charged down by a defender.

Alty thought that they might have had a penalty on sixty-seven minutes, when Hannah appeared to be pushed when pursuing another attempted through ball from Tracey. Referee Mr Phillips however was unimpressed.

Still the pressure mounted and, barely sixty seconds later, following some excellent interplay, Heather pushed a shot at goal just wide of the target.

On seventy-one minutes Cloe played an excellent cross-field ball into Tracey’s run but her cross from the Alty right was cleared for a corner. The corner was cleared but only as far as Cloe whose shot, once again, whistled just the wrong side of the post for the majority of supporters.

Heather was having an increasing influence on the game and, following her creative play, on seventy-three minutes another shot passed narrowly wide.

Despite all these near misses Altrincham heads didn’t drop and, after seventy-seven minutes, another passage of good play enabled Tracey to get a shot away, this one passing just outside the near post.

On eighty minutes Altrincham got some reward for their perseverance. A ball into the Runcorn penalty area was handled and a penalty resulted.

Cloe had successfully converted the last Altrincham penalty but, this time, Lizzie strode forward from goal and hammered the ball past her opposite number to equalise.

The superior fitness of the Altrincham team, a testament to the work done by the players and by fitness coach John McManus, meant that it was now virtually one-way traffic. The question being could Altrincham top this fine recovery off with a winner?

On eighty-four minutes, patient play around the edge of the Runcorn area allowed another shot which again went marginally wide. On eighty-eight minutes Tallulah and Hayley who, in addition to Becci, had been introduced to the game, linked up to forge yet another opening.

Tallulah impressively intercepted an attempt by Runcorn to ease the pressure and played the ball to Hayley. Having settled the ball down on the bobbly pitch, Hayley then delivered an excellent ball into the area which was steered into the net, off the far post, by Tracey to give Altrincham a 4-3 lead which their industry and perseverance during the second half had deserved.

Altrincham saw the rest of the game out with no perils to register another win.

All wins are good, obviously, but this one, having overturned a two-goal deficit against potentially one of our major competitors for third spot, was particularly pleasing.

Results elsewhere also meant that the gap between Altrincham and the other contenders for third in the League had widened a bit further.

On Thursday we take on Wilmslow Town Ladies at Beech Avenue. Wilmslow currently lie fourth in the table and will be keen to gain revenge for the 5-3 defeat Altrincham inflicted on them just before Christmas.