ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES (1) 3
RUNCORN LINNETS LADIES (0) 1
Sunday, 10 May, 2015.
ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES: Lizzie Brereton, Heather Scott, Louise Edleston, Kathryn McIntyre, Sam Briggs, Rachael Philip, Kate Bryan, Elina Parker, Gail Simpson, Georgia Plant, Emma Booth. Substitute: Becci Hailes
Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.
The Ladies welcomed Runcorn Linnets to Grove Park for their second consecutive home League fixture, hoping to build on the victory against Chester City Ladies last week.
Games between these two sides are always close but eminently entertaining affairs as both teams like to get the ball down and play a passing game.
Altrincham persevered with the 3-2-3-2 formation, which has proved so effective in recent games. A back three of Heather, Louise and Sam being screened and supported by Gail and Elina. Just in front of that duo, Rachael and Cyprus occupied the wide positions, with Kate more central. The attacking partnership this week was Emma and Georgia.
Following the impeccable observance of a minute's silence in recognition of the Anniversary of VE Day, Altrincham kicked off on a pitch with many undulations and even more dandelions.
Within a minute the Runcorn keeper had been called upon to demonstrate her handling at her near post after a good ball from Georgia allowed Emma to strike a firm shot toward goal. A further three minutes had elapsed when, making light of the surface, for the first of numerous occasions Alty players produced a silky passing movement. Rachael fed Georgia whose return pass allowed Rachael to deliver an inviting cross which was headed narrowly over by the advancing Kate. Altrincham had begun the game as Keith and his Management team had asked and seemed to be getting a firm grip on proceedings.
The two flank players linked well soon after, Rachael again providing good service, this time to Cyprus whose effort across the keeper was well saved. Two minutes later Gail, who together with Elina was exerting an iron grip on the middle of the park, picked up a stray ball before embarking on a run of some twenty to twenty-five yards. Just as she seemed about to pull the trigger however and maybe register the goal her performances this season have warranted she was stopped by a fine challenge on the edge of the Runcorn area.
Despite their somewhat baffling League position Runcorn are a more than decent side and almost immediately Lizzie had to move smartly and bravely to the edge of her area in order to thwart Runcorn striker Megan Pickering, always a thorn in the side of any team she plays against.
Alty went straight back up the other end, thoug,h and again Cyprus was able to get a shot away, this time fed by Kate. Unfortunately though, the effort passed just over the bar.
This was an extremely entertaining game to watch already with both sides playing football the “right” way and play moving from end to end and side to side as both teams searched for an opening.
The goal which Altrincham, on balance, probably deserved came on seventeen minutes. A superb ball in from the right by Rachael caused consternation in the Runcorn six-yard area and, when the visiting keeper fumbled it, Emma was on hand to joyfully strike it home.
The whole of the Altrincham team were once again performing admirably. Emma, effectively the spearhead, chased seemingly lost causes and pressured defenders whilst Georgia wreaked her own particular brand of mayhem on the visitors. Racheal and Cyprus probed down the flanks, not only delivering good balls into the strikers but also occupying the Runcorn wide players. Kate, in the middle of the three, barely wasted a ball whilst getting back and forward to support her team mates.
Elina and Gail were imperious, just in front of the Alty rear-guard, Elina winning almost every aerial challenge whilst Gail was her normal perpetual- motion heartbeat of the team, winning balls and setting up play with intelligence and insight.
Heather and Sam, in addition to getting forward to support their wingers were steadfast in defence and Louise both provided cover for her two defensive colleagues and also sewed up the central area tight.
Anything which actually got through to Lizzie was dealt with calmly and effectively, which must be beneficial for the confidence of her team mates. On twenty four minutes Georgia attempted a strike from twenty five yards, hoping to catch the visiting custodian by surprise. This however was not to be as the effort was safely handled.
Four minutes later Heather defended stoutly, stopping a foray down the Runcorn left, before releasing Emma whose early cross sadly evaded every advancing Alty player. Georgia was once again the architect of an opportunity soon after when, having received a quickly taken throw, she moved purposefully forward and then laid the ball off to Kate who shot just over.
Altrincham thought that they had doubled their advantage on thirty-five minutes. Rachael superbly controlling a difficult pass, before moving forward and delivering an excellent cross to Cyprus. Unfortunately though, referee Mr Stockley had adjudged her to be offside.
Another quick throw almost immediately after released Kate who in turn teed up Emma. Sadly, once again, the shot passed narrowly wide.
The Altrincham attacking cohort was applying almost incessant pressure by this point. A great run by Georgia freeing Emma who was halted by some impressive defending on the edge of the area. Runcorn continued their efforts to equalise though and, in the last meaningful action of an entertaining first half, Heather had to be smart to prevent a cross from the Runcorn left reaching the Altrincham area
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 1|
RUNCORN LINNETS LADIES 0
Keith and his management team declared that they were generally happy with how Alty had played in the first half. A couple of minor adjustments and with a warning that a one goal lead was not enough the Alty Ladies took to the field for the second half.
Runcorn began the second half having made a couple of positional changes and now operating with two central strikers.
Altrincham, however, created the first opportunity of the half when Kate shot narrowly wide of the near post following some impressive build up play. Runcorn it appeared had flooded the midfield in an attempt to gain the upper hand and, on forty-nine minutes a strong run once again from Megan Pickering culminated in a fierce shot which hit the outside of the post and rebounded to safety.
Despite the increased pressure, Alty continued in their efforts to increase their lead. On fifty-one minutes a strong run down the left by Cyprus allowed her to cross the ball into an unmarked Georgia. Unfortunately Georgia’s shot was off target. However Rachael regained possession and her testing cross was cleared for an Alty corner.
More impressive play down the Alty left on fifty-six minutes created an opportunity for Emma but her effort on goal was again saved by the impressive Runcorn keeper. As Runcorn’s revised tactics continued to put pressure on the Alty rear-guard Heather was once again called on to defend solidly to see off any danger of a strike on goal.
At this point Keith swapped Georgia and Cyprus over, Georgia now operating as an orthodox left-winger and almost immediately she showed her ability beating a number of opponents before crossing the ball toward the back post where it was cleanly gathered by the Linnets’ keeper. Shortly after this Sam picked up the ball in her left back position and set off forward. She travelled three quarters of the length of the pitch before sliding an inviting ball to Rachael at the far post. Sadly Rachael was a bit off balance and, leaning back, skied the opportunity over the bar.
The visiting goalie impressed again soon afterwards, coming to the edge of her area to thwart Emma, who had been put through by an incisive pass from Kate.
On seventy two minutes the equaliser for which Runcorn had striven so industriously finally arrived. Megan Pickering, again getting the ball and wrong-footing Heather before driving an impressive shot over Lizzie and into the far corner. In an attempt to mitigate the effects of the additional Runcorn midfielders Keith changed the Alty formation. Elina dropped back to make a back four whilst Emma ploughed a lone furrow up front as the midfield was bolstered to five. This seemed to have an effect as Alty were once again able to play their attractive passing football, providing options for the player on the ball and pushing the visitors back.
The Runcorn keeper was on impressive form twice in as many minutes. Firstly, once again, coming out decisively to claim a through ball and then grasping a firm cross shot by Georgia, albeit at the second attempt. Georgia and Rachael combined again in the eighty-first minute to create the second Alty goal, Georgia run and pass releasing Rachael who intelligently cut the ball back for Emma to finish with an impressive turn and fierce shot into the bottom corner.
At this point Becci who had waited patiently for her opportunity joined the fray replacing Rachael and she almost made the dream start. Superbly controlling a long pass and drifting past a defender into the area where she was robbed by an impressive tackle.
Altrincham sealed the points on eighty-seven minutes when a deep ball into the Runcorn penalty area was handled by a defender, a penalty kick being the only possible outcome. Emma stepped forward and drove a powerful shot into the top corner of the net to register both Altrincham’s and her own personal third goal.
There was still time however for one more attempt by the impressive Megan Pickering whose excellent header from a free kick in the final minute went just over the bar.
So, for the second time this season Alty had run out 3-1 winners against a Runcorn side who had provided stern opposition belying their league position. It had been an excellent game played in the right way in great spirit and yet another superb advert for the Women’s game.
Players Player of the Match was Emma, for her all round performance, tireless running, hold up play and, of course three goals. Management Player of the Match was awarded to Louise, who had defended superbly, barely giving the Runcorn forwards a kick.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 3|
RUNCORN LINNETS LADIES 1