Cheshire County Cup, Second Round
Sunday, 15 March, 2015.


ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES: Lizzie Brereton, Heather Scott, Sam Briggs, Louise Edleston, Elina Parker, Sarah McManus, Kathryn McIntyre, Gail Simpson, Becci Hailes, Georgia Plant


Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.

The Ladies returned to Winsford, scene of one of their most impressive performances in a pre-season friendly, this time to contest the Quarter Final of the Cheshire County FA Women’s Cup.

Winsford operate at a higher level than the Alty Ladies and have had a successful season, so this would be a testing encounter.

The Altrincham position was not in any way helped by the absence of a significant number of potential starters, due to a combination of illness, injury, work and Mothers' Day commitments, which meant that only ten players were available.

Consequently, Alty lined up in an extremely unfamiliar 4-4-1 formation with a number of players in somewhat unfamiliar positions. Lizzie started in goal, behind a back four of Heather, Elina, Louise and Sam. In midfield Sarah, who was back from University, started on the right flank with Gail and Cyprus in the centre of the park and Becci wide on the left. Georgia ploughed a lone furrow up front.

Pre-match Keith and the management team reinforced the importance of retaining possession when possible and how vital hard work would be.

Altrincham kicked off the game hoping to keep the game tight and the scoreboard blank for as long as possible. However, within a minute, incisive play down the Alty left resulted in a cross which was only half cleared by the retreating defence, the ball being clinically driven home to give the hosts a dream start and immediately put Alty on the back foot.

Things got worse for Alty after only four minutes. A direct ball bisected the Alty defence releasing the impressive Winsford striker who finished the chance despite Lizzie getting a hand to the shot and almost turning it away.

This had clearly not been the start Alty would have wanted and a team with less character may well have capitulated entirely.

Altrincham, however, are not that sort of team and, despite the numerical disadvantage, were soon pressing their hosts back.

Georgia picked up an erudite through ball before shooting just wide, although handball had already been somewhat harshly given against her.

On eleven minutes Georgia, who was working very hard on her own up front, was fouled twenty-five yards out. Elina strode forward and drove the resulting free kick goalwards but the Winsford keeper was able to save quite easily.

As one would expect, given the circumstances, Winsford were frequently on the attack but the Alty players were resolute in their defending, both Louise and Sam defending more than impressively on occasion.

Alty continued to play their football though and, on twenty minutes, what was probably the move of the match up to that point unlocked the home defence. Sam played the ball up the line to Becci, who linked well with Gail. Gail supplied an inch perfect ball to the marauding Georgia whose firm strike went just wide.

The ten Altrincham players were all performing heroically, very much against the odds. Lizzie was calm collected and commanding behind a very, very industrious and committed back four. Sarah, making her first appearance for some time and Becci, filling in on the left were both offering good support to their full backs and also pushing on when possible.

Gail and Cyprus worked tirelessly in the middle of the park and more than held their own against a midfield with genuine quality, whilst Georgia covered every blade of grass several times over chasing down through balls and never allowing the home defence even a second on the ball.

On twenty three minutes Georgia appeared to have halved the deficit, finishing neatly following another well delivered free kick by Elina. Unfortunately, though the joy was short lived as she was adjudged to have been marginally offside.

On twenty-five minutes yet more impressive play, this time down the Alty right, involving Sarah and then Georgia opened up an opportunity for Becci but her shot was blocked, Sam following up sadly lifting her first time effort from the rebound just over the bar.

Winsford were persisting in their attempts to extend their lead and on thirty-five minutes Louise seemed to be deceived by a wicked bounce on the firm but somewhat bobbly surface, allowing one of the impressive Winsford front three a free route to goal. Not for the first time, however, Lizzie was more than equal to the test, pulling off an excellent one on one save before the responsibly retreating Louise finally cleared the danger with a superb challenge.

Despite being a player down against a good side from a higher level Altrincham had more than dealt with whatever had been thrown at them. If half time could be reached with only a two goal deficit then the players and management would have the right to be more than satisfied with their efforts. Sadly though this was not to be the case, when in the forty fourth minute a corner following another excellent save from Lizzie, was pulled back to the edge of the six yard box and finished convincingly.

Having conceded twice in four minutes to have then held out for a further forty before doing so again was a significant feather in the collective Altrincham cap. To their immense credit, once again the Alty Ladies pushed forward an excellent cross by Georgia just evading Sarah, Becci striking a firm shot just wide of the post and then just before the half time whistle Elina firing in a shot from distance which was again just off target.

Half time was reached with Altrincham 3-0 down.


Despite the score, Keith and the Management team were more than satisfied with the players’ performance. The effort, energy and commitment had been exemplary and every one of the players had reason to be proud of their performance.

All that could be asked was a repeat of the first half.

Winsford kicked off the second half and Lizzie was soon called into action, making another excellent save on forty-seven minutes. Five minutes later and the Alty goal had a slightly fortunate escape when a long ball down the Alty right was crossed early into the area but missed by the advancing home forwards.

Having weathered the anticipated initial storm, the Alty Ladies once again set about trying to reduce the deficit. On the hour an excellent ball by Becci released Cyprus whose shot passed narrowly wide.

Lizzie was impressing again on sixty-nine minutes, leaping athletically to touch a fierce angled shot over the bar. Altrincham went straight back up on the offensive though and Cyprus was once again set free by a judicious ball but this time her shot was saved by the Winsford custodian.

For those who may not be aware, the Winsford pitch is very large and it is very much to the credit of not only the players’ determination but also the fitness work put in with John McManus that the Alty players were still demonstrating commendable energy levels after playing so long with a numerical disadvantage.

In fact. it was somewhat against the run of play when the hosts extended their lead even further in the seventy sixth minute. The Alty defence, having been pierced by an astute through ball, Lizzie made yet another excellent one on one save, seemingly turning the ball away for a corner. However, referee Mr Pond adjudged the ball not to have gone out and from the subsequent pull back the ball was tucked away despite the best efforts of the Altrincham players.

Lizzie’s best save however was yet to come when on seventy-nine minutes she flung herself to her right to push a fierce cross shot onto the post and away. Reinforcing the superb fitness levels and persistence of the Alty players, Louise made yet another magnificent tackle on eighty-five minutes to thwart yet another Winsford attack.

Although clearly quite tired after their exertions Altrincham created the final meaningful opportunity of the match on eighty-eight minutes. Continuing to press right to the end, Alty won a free kick on the edge of the home penalty area when Cyprus was fouled. Elina’s shot sadly just cleared the bar once again.

Full time came and the Altrincham Ladies, despite an absolutely magnificent performance, bowed out of the County Cup by a score of 4-0

Every single one of the players had performed heroically as shown by the following comments from captain Heather Scott. "Some may have said everything was against us, but we walked on the pitch and fought for every ball. It's days like this when the odds are unfavourable which define a team. As captain, I couldn't have been more pleased by the commitment, attitude and desire shown on the pitch by every single player to play for their shirt.

We must now use this experience to build on our position in the league".

Management Player of the Match was awarded to Georgia Plant for her unstinting efforts as a lone striker, often operating without much, if any, support yet chasing, harrying, holding the ball up and causing problems to the Winsford defence

Players' Player went to Becci Hailes, who had played through the pain barrier (as had a number of others), refusing to give best to her long-standing back injury despite, on occasion being reduced to tears. This having been said, each and every Alty player could have won either of the two awards, as every player gave everything they had and then a lot more on top.

The players get an opportunity to rest up next Sunday as there is no scheduled fixture.

The next game for the Ladies is a home game against Egerton on March 29th. Kick off is at 2.00pm at Mersey Valley. All support will be most welcome.