RUNCORN LINNETS LADIES (0) 2
LADIES ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES (1) 4
Cheshire Women's & Youth League, Division Two
Sunday, 11 May, 2014.
See report below
Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.
Altrincham Ladies completed their third, and to date most successful season with a trip to Runcorn Linnets.
The two teams had played out a very close and entertaining encounter at the end of March with Altrincham coming from behind to register a 4-3 win. A combination of factors meant that Altrincham travelled with twelve players although support was offered by Elina, her daughter and members of Sue’s family for which the team is grateful.
Alty went into the game with a 3-1-4-2 formation. Lizzie being one of the absentees, Beth donned the gloves. A back three of Becci, Tallulah and Sam being supported by Heather playing just in front to offer additional protection. In midfield Natalie, Gail and Sue were joined by Hayley with Tracey and Cloe operating up front.
As has been the case for much of the season Altrincham set off playing the passing game, which has served so well, and it took less than two minutes for the first chance to be created, a fine passing move freed Natalie whose shot was well saved by the Runcorn keeper, the first of a number in a very impressive performance.
Conditions were to pose a challenge to both teams throughout the game, a strong gusty wind combined with a pronounced slope on one side of the pitch necessitating some revision of tactics. Possibly Altrincham were marginally the less affected of the teams, though, as their policy of keeping the ball on the floor and progressing by way of short, sharp passes enabled a degree of control.
The link play on show was very easy on the eye and Altrincham continued to apply pressure.
On nine minutes, following an excellent switch of play through the midfield, Sam moved forward and got a shot away which went marginally wide. Four minutes later and the conditions were to frustrate Natalie when an incisive ball from midfield was taken away from her at the vital moment by a strong gust. Altrincham were playing some exquisite football and at times it seemed that the hosts were struggling to cope.
After one such flowing move on fifteen minutes Cloe instinctively struck a first time volley which narrowly cleared the crossbar. The two central midfielders for Altrincham, Gail and Sue were totally dominating that area of the pitch and, on eighteen minutes, some very attractive passing play and a brilliant turn and pass by Sue opened up the defence to present Cloe with a chance which was once again well saved.
Alty continued to pour forward and, less than a minute later, more incisive play put Natalie in down the right but her cross was blocked. Still Altrincham pressed and on twenty minutes an opportunity arose for Hayley who struck her shot with sufficient power to knock the defender who bravely blocked it off her feet.
Although play was heading virtually all one way, there was a little concern expressed on the touchline that, as of yet we hadn’t registered and in fact on twenty one minutes it took an impressive intervention by Beth to smother a Runcorn through ball which had evaded the Alty defence.
This must have been an excellent spectacle for any neutral spectators as, only a minute later, Cloe had a shot well blocked following yet another flowing move. On twenty six minutes an atypical long ball by the hosts resulted in a chance which passed just wide.
Altrincham though persevered with their approach and, on twenty eight minutes, this finally paid dividends. Yet another quick, accurate and incisive passage of play freed Cloe whose pass allowed Tracey to have a strike at goal which was yet again well saved by the keeper. On this occasion though Natalie was on hand to complete the job and Altrincham had a well deserved 1-0 lead.
The heretofore impressive Runcorn custodian excelled herself eight minutes later. Possibly the best move of the match to date involving a switch of play from left to right, an incisive pass from Becci to Cloe and a shot by Tracey was countered by a sprawling dive to touch the ball around the post.
In the thirty-eighth minute Becci, who had gone up and down the right flank incessantly was substituted. Runcorn were clearly intent on staying well in the fixture though and, just prior to half time, following a foul by Sam, the resulting free kick went narrowly high and wide.
Half time was reached with Altrincham holding a narrow but deserved lead
Conversation at half time revolved around how well Altrincham had played the ball around and how pleasing it had been to watch. Every player in the squad has taken on board the philosophy of the team. In training there has been some brilliant football and the team has done its utmost to transfer that into a more competitive scenario, with no lack of success.
However, the second half would, doubtless be more difficult as Alty would be playing against the wind.
|Half-Time: RUNCORN LINNETS LADIES 0|
LADIES ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 1
Altrincham kicked off and, in spite of the conditions, were soon firmly back on the front foot.
Only three minutes had elapsed when a typically industrious run and cross by Tracey allowed Cloe to get a header on target which was, again, well saved. A couple of minutes later and Tracey, who had run the channels in her normal selfless manner, was upended in the area and Altrincham had a penalty.
Cloe who had converted her previous spot kick, stepped forward and struck a firm shot which was excellently touched onto the bar by the Runcorn goalie. Cloe calmly controlled the rebound and stroked it home to double the Alty lead.
As anticipated Runcorn were posing more of a threat this half and, barely a minute after conceding, it took some impressive defending by Tallulah to repel a threat. The game was going from end to end, another excellent advertisement for Women’s football in general and, more particularly, the League.
Fifty six minutes having elapsed, yet another example of intricate passing by Altrincham progressed the ball to the front pairing. Tracey laid the ball off to Cloe whose improvised scooped pass just ran away from the onrushing Tracey.
Despite playing against the elements the footballing ethos demonstrated by the Altrincham team continued to allow chances to be forged. On sixty-five minutes the lead was extended to three when an accurately delivered chipped pass was headed on to Cloe who clinically finished to register her second goal of the game and her eighteenth of the season, a very impressive return for a player in their first year of open age football.
With their tails well and truly up Altrincham continued to press, forcing a number of corners and it was from one of these that the fourth Alty goal came. Heather delivered a corner into the box which was met by Tallulah. The header was blocked but Tracey reacted quickest to register goal number 45 for the season.
It seemed that a combination of elements and fatigue then put the Alty Ladies somewhat more on the back foot and, on seventy-four minutes a ball lifted over the Altrincham defence was well finished to reduce the deficit to 4-1.
In attempting to save this Beth had clearly once again aggravated the injury, sustained in the County Cup fixture against Macclesfield in November, which has blighted the season since and, on eighty minutes, she was forced to withdraw with Becci, for the second game in succession, donning the gloves.
Runcorn stepped up the pressure as the Altrincham players, whilst still trying to play good football, seemed to drop increasingly deep. There was almost a need for a third keeper of the day for Altrincham, on eighty-four minutes, when Becci bravely hurtled out of goal to close down an opportunity and collided heavily with the onrushing Runcorn attacker. Fortunately, after treatment, both players were able to continue.
Despite having been on the offensive for the majority of the game the defensive concentration shown by the entire Altrincham squad had been impressive. A good demonstration of this was in the eighty-seventh minute when Sam leaped impressively at the back post, following a corner, to head the ball off the line.
In spite of having come under increasing pressure in the second half Altrincham were good value for their win.
There was however, unfortunately, one last twist in the second minute of stoppage time when a long shot by a Runcorn player evaded both Heather and Becci to make the score 4-2. The referee blew the final whistle virtually as soon as Altrincham had restarted, with the ultimate outcome a 4-2 away win.
So, an eighteen-game League season had been completed with the Ladies securing 14 wins and being defeated only four times.
Six teams have been beaten home and away whilst only one team, League Champions Warrington Wolverines, have done the double over Alty.
Throw in a Cup Final, (including victories over two Division One sides, one of who has subsequently secured promotion), and a County Cup triumph over a team operating two levels higher in the pyramid and it has been an extremely successful season.
Enormous credit must go to each and every player who has pulled on an Altrincham shirt this season, not only for the results which have been secured but also for the way in which they have played, the commitment shown and how they have represented Altrincham FC.
Thanks also to the Football Club and to the Community Sports Company for the support they have shown to the Ladies. To Grahame and Karen Rowley for championing the Ladies, to Alan Ainsley for his invaluable help in keeping the players on the field of play and to all those who have supported us in any way this season (apologies to anyone missed out).
A special mention though must go to Ian Langford who has spent countless hours (and probably a good few quid too) travelling to almost every game home and away and, when he’s got there, doing the flag to let Keith, John and myself get on with the very pleasing and satisfying task of managing one of the best sets of players you could ever wish to meet. A few weeks of R & R now before planning starts for the 2014/15 season. Any and all support will be enormously appreciated.
|Full-Time: RUNCORN LINNETS LADIES 2|
LADIES ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 4