ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES' TEAM MATCH REPORT

ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES (1) 4
EGERTON LADIES (1) 1

League Match
Thursday, 14 May, 2015.


LINE-UP

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. Substitutes: Becci Hailes, Caroline Moran and Aimee Gibson


REPORT

Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.

The Ladies welcomed Egerton to Grove Park for their third consecutive home League fixture, hoping to build on the victories against Chester City Ladies and Runcorn Linnets.

Games between these two sides tend to be close affairs although the two teams, historically, have very different philosophies on how the game should be played. 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 was 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 again was Emma and Georgia.

Altrincham kicked off on a pitch which had been marked, but not mowed, since the Runcorn fixture four days earlier.

Immediately on the offensive, Altrincham forced the first of a number of saves from the visiting keeper within thirty seconds of kick off. An astute ball from Gail freeing Cyprus who, in turn, fed Georgia whose shot was saved. Almost immediately, from the resulting clearance, the ball was fed out to Rachael, who found the overlapping Kate. Kate moved forward before delivering a great cross into the area, which Cyprus unfortunately could only manage to head over the bar.

The Altrincham football was making light of the somewhat indifferent surface and also preventing Egerton from getting a foothold in the game. Excellent and incisive runs by both Gail and Cyprus were defended by the somewhat pressured Egerton defence, whilst another erudite pass from Georgia to Kate allowed the latter to, once again, call the visiting keeper into action.

Having withstood the initial onslaught, Egerton gained possession and lifted a high ball over the top of the retreating Heather, which was pursued by the speedy winger. Fortunately for Altrincham, the ensuing shot passed harmlessly wide. Again after ten minutes the Egerton tactic of long balls over the Alty defence almost bore fruit, Sam having to cover over to the right flank to hold up an attacker.

A swift word from the side line saw the home defence drop a few yards to nullify the visitor’s tactics and Alty were soon once again on the attack. A great switch of play by Gail freed Cyprus to move forward down the left before delivering an excellent cross which was cleared for a corner. From this corner Altrincham took the lead, which their play thus far had deserved. Kate drove the corner in and Emma headed home for her fourth goal in two games.

Altrincham really were in total command at this point. A ball fired across the area was narrowly missed by Cyprus and a free kick from Elina was touched wide by the scrambling Egerton keeper. On twenty-three minutes, great interplay between Emma and Kate, originating from a throw in on the Alty right, culminated in a powerful strike by Emma which, sadly, went just over the crossbar.

Again, on twenty-nine minutes, Egerton managed to release a long ball over the top of the home defence, which had pushed up a bit to condense play. Fortunatel,y Lizzie was very alert in coming out and dealt with it calmly and effectively.

Altrincham continued to apply pressure as the half progressed, Kate shooting narrowly wide after intercepting a loose ball and Emma, having been set up by good play from Rachael, seeing her goal bound shot saved well.

On the occasions when they were able to relieve the pressure, Egerton continued with their ploy of trying to play the ball in behind the Altrincham defence for their speedy forwards to run onto and, after forty-one minutes, Heather had to show all her composure and defensive ability to defuse an Egerton attack.

Almost straight from this, however, Alty looked to have increased their lead following, probably, the move of the half. Georgia, having beaten a couple of defenders delivered a good pass to Gail who, in turn, produced an even better one to Emm,a who was about to slide the ball home only for Mr Lever to adjudge that she had fouled a defender.

Evidence of how fickle a game football can be came in the final minute of the half. A long through-ball was shepherded back to Lizzie by Louise under no pressure from any attacker. Much to the bemusement of all those present however, referee Mr Lever decided that she had obstructed her opponent and awarded an indirect free-kick on the edge of the Altrincham area. The kick was knocked sideways and a shot fired in which Lizzie had comfortably covered until it took a wicked deflection and ended up in the back of the Alty net.

So, a half which Altrincham had controlled for 95% of the time had finished with the scores even. Keith and his management team declared that, whilst clearly unhappy with the nature of the goal conceded, they were generally happy with how Alty had played in the first half. More detailed advice on how to deal with the Egerton attacks and encouragement to keep playing their football saw the Alty Ladies return to the field for the second half.


Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 1
EGERTON LADIES 1

Egerton began the second half and, in an attempt to catch Lizzie off guard, shot from the half-way line. Although the shot went well wide, Lizzie had it covered anyway.

Building on the increased confidence which their arguably fortuitous goal seemed to have given them, the visitors continued to push on and Lizzie was forced into an excellent plunging save on forty-nine minutes.

It has been strength of the Altrincham side this season that they are capable of quickly turning defence into attack, their style of football enabling them to quickly regain the initiative, even when they have been under pressure and this match was no different.

Altrincham once again began to get the ball down and to play good, swift attacking football pushing the Egerton team back and soon becoming dominant again. A number of corners were forced and, from one such set piece, on fifty-four minutes, Alty extended their lead. The ball was once again delivered deep into the Egerton area and, following a melee, Cyprus gleefully stabbed it home to make the score 2-1.

Despite the odd defensive scare Altrincham had been performing admirably all the way through what was living up to the anticipated tough encounter. Emma and, firstly, Georgia and, latterly, Cyprus had worked incessantly stopping the Egerton players from settling and playing out of defence. Rachael, Emma and Cyprus / Georgia pushed on and increased the pressure on the occasionally beleaguered Egerton defence whilst Elina had cut out the majority of the visitors' aerial assaults, with Gail once again the heartbeat of the team, keeping it ticking over and creating space and opportunities for others to attack.

Once they had got a handle on the Egerton attacking system the back three had been resolute and firm. Anything passing them having been superbly dealt with by Lizzie. Within two minutes of re-taking the lead Alty almost extended it. A good ball from Aimee, who had by this point been introduced, found Cyprus who was unable to get the ball to settle and enable her to shoot.

Significant further pressure was applied by Altrincham as Egerton found it increasingly difficult to exit their own half. The Egerton nNo 17 defending particularly impressively throughout the game and demonstrating excellent positioning on a number of occasions.

Kate was becoming increasingly influential, with a shot being saved and two excellent through balls in the space of four minutes highlighting this. Once again it seemed that the advantage had been extended on sixty-eight minutes when superb interplay involving Georgia and Emma released Aimee, who finished clinically only for play to be pulled back for an offside.

Aimee, returning after injury was demonstrating commendable industry up front and on seventy- one minutes clipped an inviting ball to the back post, which just evaded the advancing Emma. Eight minutes later and she was at it again. A strong run down the Alty right culminated in a cross which just wouldn’t settle for Emma to apply the finish.

Any one-goal lead will leave one side vulnerable and encourage the other and Lizzie, once again, had to come out well to collect a through ball on eighty-one minutes. Straightaway, though, the third goal which the Alty performance so deserved came along and what a goal it was. A ball into the Egerton area from the Alty left was laid back to Kate some twenty-five yards from goal, who hammered it into the net, the keeper never moving.

The fourth and final Altrincham goal came three minutes from time, a cross from the Alty left being inexplicably handled by an Egerton defender. Aimee stepped forward to clinically despatch the resulting penalty kick and extend the lead to 4-1.

There was still more action to come however. Barely a minute after the fourth Altrincham goal Lizzie pulled off a truly stupendous double save. Firstly diving to her left to claw away a shot before quickly regaining her feet and diving to her right to not only stop the shot from the rebound but hold it.

The final notable action took place in the final minute. Caroline who, by this point, had been introduced in place of Heather played an incisive ball to another substitute, Becci who went past a defender as if she wasn’t there before firing off a powerful strike which the keeper was unable to hold. Unfortunately, Aimee was unable to reach the loose ball before the covering defender.

Final Score: Altrincham FC Ladies 4 Egerton Ladies 1

So Altrincham had mathematically secured second place in the League with a game yet to play; a superb achievement by every single player who has represented the team this season be it for five minutes or every game.

Given the superiority of Warrington Wolverines from day one of the season it could be argued that Altrincham have actually won the “'competitive' League this season.

Players' Player of the Match was Cyprus, for her all round performance, tireless running, total commitment to the cause and very important goal. Management Player of the Match was awarded to Lizzie, who had been faultless between the sticks and pulled off an unbelievable stop late in the game to demonstrate her concentration levels.


Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 4
EGERTON LADIES 1