ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES (3) 5
STOCKPORT COUNTY HNR (0) 2
Sunday, 4 January 2015.
ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES: Lizzie Brereton, Heather Scott, Sam Briggs, Caroline Moran, Charlotte Dudley, Elina Parker, Gail Simpson, Rachael Philip, Georgia Plant, Emma Booth, Tracey Blanchard Webb, Substitutes: Chloe Brereton, Annie Nelson, Aimee Gibson and Becci Hailes
Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.
Due to recent inclement weather the Altrincham Home Pitch was unfit so the teams agreed to play at Stockport’s Home venue instead. Altrincham are grateful for the cooperation and flexibility of HNR in this matter. The previous fixture this season ended with the hosts enjoying a 6-1 win, so a tough game was anticipated.
Alty, hopefully rested and restored after the festive season but without a number of the squad, lined up in a 4-4-2 formation; Lizzie in goal, with a back four of Heather, Elina, Caroline and Sam, and Rachael, Charlotte, Gail and Georgia across midfield. The attacking focus was offered by Tracey and Emma.
On a chilly January afternoon, under clear skies, Alty kicked off the game and, within twenty eight seconds, had taken the lead. Georgia moved the ball on to Charlotte, playing in a somewhat unfamiliar midfield role, who produced an exquisite pass through to Tracey, allowing her to easily beat the keeper.
Stockport appeared a little stunned by the speed at which Altrincham had come out of the traps and immediately set about trying to impose their methods on proceedings.
Altrincham were however having none of this and continued to dictate play almost exclusively. In the previous fixture between the teams the Alty Ladies had never been able to establish any control over the central midfield whereas, today, Gail and Charlotte were dictating the path that the game was taking.
Excellent use was being made of both flanks, with Georgia and Rachael pinning back their respective full-backs, whilst Tracey and Emma were linking well up front and causing all manner of problems. In fact, on ten minutes, the link between the two almost created a second goal, Tracey’s astute pass releasing Emma whose firm effort was scrambled away.
On fifteen minutes a trademark pass by Gail released Emma. The Stockport goalkeeper, for the first of many times, was briskly off her line to block but Tracey was sadly unable to convert the rebound, her shot passing over the bar As might be expected of a side second in the table, Stockport did have opportunities to apply pressure but, on the rare occasions when the midfield was pierced, the defensive unit of Heather, Sam, Caroline and Elina was resolute offering good protection to Lizzie, who herself was in impressive form when called upon to collect through balls, long shots etc.
The Altrincham pressure told again on twenty-six minutes when a ball from Elina, moving forward from her central defensive berth, released Tracey who skilfully rounded the keeper before sliding the ball home clinically.
Altrincham were maintaining the pressure very well indeed, not allowing Stockport to create anything notable going forward and causing some hurried defending into the bargain. Emma extended the Altrincham lead even further on thirty-two minutes when her hard work and persistence meant that she charged down a clearance from the HNR custodian, which then looped into an empty net.
The Stockport keeper who was being forced by the Altrincham performance to demonstrate her full range of abilities, once again came to her sides rescue in the thirty-eighth minute, thwarting efforts by Emma, Rachael and Tracey within seconds of each other. The respite was however only brief and Emma once again shot narrowly wide soon after this. Half-time came with the score Altrincham FC Ladies 3 Stockport County HNR 0.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 3|
STOCKPORT COUNTY HNR 0
In the absence of Keith, spending some well-earned time with family, the Alty management quite understandably expressed themselves to be more than satisfied with the half.
Altrincham players had been caught offside a number of times in the first half and suggestions were made to try to avoid this. Also, there was a reminder that HNR were second in the table and would most probably come out firing at the start of the second half. Stockport kicked off the second period but were not really allowed to get up an immediate head of steam. A strong run and cross from the Alty right by Rachael being well collected by the Stockport goalie before it could reach Tracey or Emma.
On fifty minutes, more excellent link play between the two strikers led to Tracey releasing Emma, who shot narrowly wide. Two minutes later, though, and sadly the Alty advantage was reduced. In possibly their first truly positive foray of the second half a Stockport striker got a shot off, Lizzie probably had it covered but it took a wicked deflection off an attempted block and looped agonisingly over the line.
This may have heralded the start of an increase in pressure by Stockport but, to their credit, Altrincham did not allow it to affect them at all, immediately going onto the offensive and pushing Stockport back. On fifty-nine minutes Georgia, who has having a very productive afternoon on the Alty left, linked well with Tracey before the ball found its way to Emma who was, yet again, frustrated by the Stockport keeper.
Almost immediately Annie was introduced into central midfield, replacing Charlotte who had been very influential in an unfamiliar role. Stockport, as anticipated, did enjoy some periods of play in the second half but, as had been the case earlier their attacks foundered on the rocks which were the Altrincham midfield, defence and goalkeeper, Lizzie coming out very impressively on more than one occasion to snatch the ball off a strikers toe.
On sixty-six minutes Rachael, who had run the Stockport full-back into the ground, once again made excellent progress down the Alty right before laying a ball into the centre. Tracey, showing all her experience, allowed the ball to pass across her body before rifling a shot into the corner to register her hat trick and make the score 4-1 to Altrincham.
The huge amount of effort put in on what was a good but slightly sapping pitch was having an effect on some players on both sides so, on sixty-nine minutes, Emma was withdrawn and replaced by Aimee. Then on seventy-six minutes, play having been through something of a comparatively quieter phase, Rachael was replaced by Chloe.
A mere two minutes later and Tracey ran on to an excellent through ball by Gail but, unfortunately, her first touch was a little too strong and it ran through to the keeper. Alty however regained the possession almost immediately which allowed Aimee a shot which was well saved. Again play went through a slightly less hectic phase although Altrincham were still very much in the ascendancy.
It was something of a surprise therefore in the ninetieth minute when, having won the ball deep in their own half, Stockport got in behind the right-hand side of the Alty defence, squaring the ball to the striker, who simply could not fail to score, despite a heroic effort by Lizzie.
It would have been quite easy to settle for a 4-2 victory and that would have been an excellent outcome but that isn’t the way that Alty Ladies do things. So, from kick-off the ball was moved forward before a good ball by Tracey released Aimee, who rounded the keeper to restore the three goal advantage for Alty Ladies.
In the final of the three minutes of stoppage time Lizzie was yet again quick and brave off her line to smother the final HNR chance of the game.
The Players' Player of the Match was awarded to Heather, whilst the accolade from coaching staff went to Tracey. However, every single player who had pulled on a red and white shirt today had made a significant contribution to an outstanding performance and result.
At the time, this result meant that Altrincham leapfrogged HNR into second place in the table. Unfortunately, though, later on Sunday Heswall Ladies were forced by circumstances to withdraw from the League and the removal of their record returns us to third.
It is always very sad when a team folds and the case of Heswall is no different. Despite being on the receiving end of some significant score lines they always attempted not only to play football but to do so in the “right” way. All at Altrincham FC Ladies wish the players, parents supporters etc. every success in whatever they do next.
Next game for Altrincham is again in Stockport, this coming Sunday ,when we visit AFC Stockport; kick Off is at 2.00pm. As always, all and any support is hugely appreciated.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 5|
STOCKPORT COUNTY HNR 2