ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 2
ISLE OF MAN REPRESENTATIVE TEAM 5
Saturday, 23 May, 2015.
ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES: Lizzie Brereton, Heather Scott, Louise Edleston, Sam Briggs, Rachael Philip, Rebecca McConnell, Gail Simpson, Kate Bryan, Georgia Plant, Megan Pickering, Elina Parker. Substitutes: Kathryn McIntyre, Cloe Allsop, Brogan Walsh and Emma Booth.
Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.
The Ladies were honoured to welcome the Isle of Man FA Representative Ladies squad to Altrincham for this friendly encounter.
The visitors had chosen Altrincham as one of their opponents for warm-up games prior to the 2015 World Island Games and had travelled with a strong squad, including three players with connections to WSL Clubs.
Altrincham fielded two guest players. The first, Rebecca McConnell, a tall and accomplished defender who has represented Liverpool John Moores University, and the second, Megan Pickering, a lively striker who has played the past few seasons at Runcorn Linnets Ladies, scoring numerous goals and troubling every defence to have faced her.
Altrincham persisted with their recent 3-2-3-2 formation which had been so effective in league fixtures toward the end of the season.
Lizzie in goal behind a back three of Heather, Louise and Sam. Just in front of these three, Gail and Rebecca (Bex) were deployed to both screen the back three and also to initiate moves when Alty played out from the back. The more forward three midfielders were Rachael, Kate and Georgia with Elina showing her versatility by partnering Megan up front.
Altrincham kicked off but were soon being put under pressure, Lizzie having to make the first of a number of impressive stops as early as the second minute when she dived to touch a shot from outside the area over the crossbar. On the whole, though, the hosts were defending well with every player working hard to close down and reduce the options available to players in possession.
On five minutes, however, Altrincham took the lead. Lizzie played the ball out to Gail who fed Heather in the right back slot. Heather played a ball into midfield where Elina skilfully flicked it on to Georgia. Georgia then travelled goalwards before slipping an insightful ball into the stride of Megan who, after taking a touch, finished efficiently placing her shot across the keeper and into the far corner.
As one would anticipate from a team which trains three times per week, the visitors were both fit and fast and it was very much to the credit of the Altrincham players that they were not allowing the Isle of Man to exploit these strengths.
However, on eleven minutes, the visitors equalised. A strong and speedy run down the Altrincham left was followed by an accurate cross to the far post. Lizzie was down quickly to save the initial effort but was unable to prevent the rebound being poked past her and into the net.
Despite this setback Altrincham continued to try to set the agenda for how the game was to be played, moving the ball quickly and trying to release Rachael, Georgia and Megan in particular in the hope that their particular brands of speed and skill might create an opening.
At the other end Louise excellently headed a cross-field ball away, preventing it reaching an opponent. On twenty minutes, Georgia picked up a ball in the midfield area and, after ghosting past a couple of defenders unleashed a shot which the Isle of Man keeper could only fumble away.
Four minutes later and another excellent build up by the Altrincham team released Rachael on the edge of the visitor’s area. Unfortunately though, instead of shooting, she opted to try to pass to a better placed colleague and the ball was cleared.
Louise again defended well shortly afterwards to see off another Manx attack. Elina and Megan were linking well up front, both with each other and also their team mates, and Megan’s strong work ethic came to the fore when she chased down a defender, not allowing her time to turn or space to pass and forced a corner.
Rachael took the corner, delivering an excellent ball into the heart of the Isle of Man penalty area where Elina headed the ball goalwards, only for it to be diverted away for another corner by a visiting defender. As the first interval neared (the game being played in three, thirty minute periods by agreement) both Heather and Bex were called upon to show the excellence of their defensive qualities, both making impressive blocks.
In the twenty-ninth minute another example of the constructive build up play favoured by Altrincham resulted in Megan being fouled some thirty yards from goal. Elina stepped up to the free kick and fired it over the despairing keeper and into the net to restore the Alty lead.
So the first period ended with Altrincham holding a 2-1 lead
|First Period: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 2|
ISLE OF MAN REPRESENTATIVE TEAM 1
Keith and the management team were, on the whole very pleased with the Alty performance during the first period, reinforcing the message to keep playing “our” way but reminding the players that they were facing a very good team.
Three changes were made, Emma replacing Elina, Cloe, returning after some time away, replacing Rachael and Cyprus replacing Sam who was feeling a tight hamstring. The Isle of Man, for their part, fielded an entirely different eleven players to those who had started the game.
In what was almost a mirror image of the first period, The Isle of Man kicked off but this time it was Alty immediately on the offensive and the visiting custodian who had to be on her toes. A ball slid through the middle released Megan whose shot was well saved by the keeper. The rebound seemed only to need a touch from Emma for the host’s lead to be doubled but the keeper was up quickly and smothered the ball off the end of Emma’s boot.
Showing a good attitude and responsibility, Cloe chased back in the fourth minute and put in an excellent tackle to concede a throw in. Altrincham went back up to the other end and forced another corner. This one, taken by Cloe was firmly met by Bex but was unfortunately off target. At this point Bex was withdrawn and replaced by Brogan which necessitated a degree of reorganisation.
The visitors sought to exploit the uncertainty temporarily resulting from the reorganisation and both Cloe and Louise were required to defend impressively over the next two minutes. On twelve minutes Lizzie once again showed her quality diving to beat away a fierce shot at her near post.
The visitors thought that they had equalised on the quarter hour when following another excellent save by Lizzie the rebound was fired home. The flag however was up for offside and the goal didn’t count.
The fitness and additional resources available to the visitors were beginning to have an impact on the game which was being played in hot sunny weather and Lizzie again had to save impressively on twenty minutes. The equaliser finally came on twenty one minutes. The host’s defence was bisected by a single ball which was driven home first time from the edge of the area giving Lizzie no chance.
Cyprus, filling in on the left of the back three, showed her strength and tenacity to see a ball out of play soon after as the pressure mounted. Altrincham though persevered with their footballing principles and, on twenty five minutes a strong run up the left resulted in a throw in.
Brogan, who belies her size with an impressive throw, hurled the ball in and when it fell to Megan her strike on goal was again well saved by the visiting custodian. Despite the circumstances, this period had, on balance, been quite even although Altrincham had been defending more than in the first period it had not been all one -way traffic and chances had been created.
It was therefore a bit of a surprise when the visitors took the lead. A strong run down the Alty left culminated in a clinical finish from the edge of the area, again Lizzie having no chance to affect the outcome. She was however able to make a difference in the final minute of the period when a shot was partially blocked by Cyprus but still seemed destined for the goal until Lizzie once again made an excellent stop.
So the two thirds stage was reached with the visitors holding a slender lead.
|Second Period: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 2|
ISLE OF MAN REPRESENTATIVE TEAM 3
The conditions and the pace at which the visitors were playing had started to open up some gaps in the Alty formation so Keith and his Management Team, whilst very pleased with the performances of every player, looked at some tactical tweaking which may be helpful. Bex was reintroduced, replacing Kate who had run herself to a standstill.
The third period was less than two minutes old when Lizzie was once again called upon to make another good save. Clearly the Isle of Man team, who had again made wholesale changes during the break, were keen to close out the game and both Heather and Bex defended admirably in the next few minutes as the pressure was stepped up.
The onslaught finally took its toll though on six minutes when, following some neat interplay, the visitors' No 8 ran through to finish tidily and extend the score to 2-4. Five minutes later and things got better again for the visitors when their striker showed good upper body strength to hold off Bex and slide the ball past the despairing Lizzie.
Not being a team who gives in easily or accepts defeat without a fight, the Alty Ladies dug in and set about trying to redress the balance. Megan harassed the visitors defence incessantly whilst Emma ran strongly and held up play well. Brogan and Cloe attempted to get in down the flanks and Georgia persistently ran at the visitors, causing them any number of problems.
Gail beetled about in the middle of the park trying, with some success, to link the various different areas of the team and Elina battled hard to win the aerial battles, whilst the back three continued to defend purposefully despite the pressure they were under.
Unfortunately the tight hamstring felt earlier in the afternoon by Sam prevented her from returning to the field so the options available to Keith were a little reduced. Although no other attacking opportunities could be fashioned by the Altrincham team the defensive effort shown by every single player during the final third was exemplary. Louise and Heather were forced to come off due to the effects of all their work and Megan finished the game as the right sided player in the back three, making an exceptional challenge in the penultimate minute.
Finally the game finished with the visitors running out winners by 5-2.
Altrincham players however should be extremely proud of their performances as every single one had performed superbly. The two guest players had fitted in seamlessly and both had brought their own individual qualities to the team. Despite the difference in levels the Altrincham Team had more than held its own and had not been in any way overrun or embarrassed. This had been a fine performance by the Ladies in an excellent game in front of a good and appreciative crowd.
Players' Player of the Match was shared between Megan and Heather, whilst the Management accolade went to Georgia, who had never stopped running, either, to try to get Alty moving forward or to support those behind her.
As this is the final match report of the season I will thank you for reading this and all the previous ones and for your kind words about them (occasionally). But I must leave the final word to Manager Keith Edleston
'Well the dust has settled and we look back with pride on another successful season for the girls. It's has had its ups and downs but we finally finished the season as deserved runners up to Warrington Wolverines LFC. Throughout the season we have portrayed ourselves in good style wherever we have been, be it up to Wallasey, across to Llandudno or down to Crewe. We have had great feedback on the way we play the game, which makes me very proud.
Yesterday's friendly with the Isle of Mans Women’s National team put the icing on the cake, to be asked to host such a prestigious game to help them prepare for the worldwide Island Games is a major coup for us as a team/club, add to that glorious weather, a decent crowd and a great game of football it made it a game to remember. Now we can rest up our bodies for a few weeks and then "look forward" to pre-season training to push us even further up the league pyramid. Some thank yous are in order beforehand...
- To all the players for giving us 100% all season, listening and taking on board all what we told you.
- To our supporters for attending, reading and buying our stuff; it means a great deal to know your all behind us.
- To the club physio, 'Our Al' for assisting us throughout the season with his skills and banter.
- ALL our sponsors for their continued support as, without them, nothing gets even off the ground! Last but not least to our No.1 supporter, Ian Langford, who travels by any means possible WITH NO CAR to all our games and runs the line...take a bow, son!
Roll on 2015/16. From myself, John, Phil & Dave, The Gaff'".”
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 2|
ISLE OF MAN REPRESENTATIVE TEAM 5