ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES (0) 0
LEE UNIVERSITY FLAMES (USA) (4) 6
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
at Mersey Valley FC.
ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES: Lizzie Brereton, Heather Scott, Louise Edleston, Caroline Moran, Elina Parker, Gail Simpson, Kate Bryan, Georgia Plant, Jess Hartopp, Cloe Allsop, Steph Ambo. Substitutes: Chloe Brereton, Tashaa Nolan, Lucy O’Dwyer, Natalie Thornley & Emma Booth.
Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.
The Ladies were pleased to open their pre-aeason schedule by welcoming a touring team from four-times US Champions, Lee University of Tennessee, to Altrincham for this friendly encounter.
The visitors had chosen Altrincham as one of their opponents for their short tour of England which was also intended to include fixtures against Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Ham United and Millwall. Amongst their number Lee could count on four “All Americans” and a number of Under-20 Internationals.
Altrincham fielded one new signing, two players returning to the Club after a period away and two other players who were potential recruits.
Altrincham lined up with a 4-4-2 formation to begin with, though being a friendly, there was the potential to make numerous substitutions and to try out differing formations.
Lizzie began in goal behind a back four of Heather, Louise Elina and Caroline. Gail and Kate formed the central midfield pairing with Georgia on one flank and new signing Jess on the other providing the width. Up front Cloe partnered Steph, another player who has faced Altrincham in the colours of Crewe and one of the potential recruits.
Altrincham kicked off but were immediately put under pressure, a slightly scuffed clearance by Heather being struck, first time, narrowly over the crossbar.
It was apparent from the outset that the visitors were indeed a class act and Altrincham were being forced to defend doggedly and in numbers to keep them at bay. That being said, however, and despite the match being so early in Altrincham’s preparations for the season, when possession could be gained the hosts tried to play in the way they had done last season, passing and movement to try to retain possession.
On seven minutes Lizzie came very quickly off her line to smother a through ball before the visiting striker could reach it. Once again, a minute later, Lizzie advanced smartly to collect a ball which had been expertly ushered back to her by Caroline.
As anticipated the pressure was almost incessant and on nine minutes a quick move down the Altrincham left presented a clear shot on goal which Lizzie palmed away, flinging herself to her right and showing strong wrists. Laudably every single Altrincham player was working incredibly hard to close down players or space. There was not much opportunity to press forward but this did not dishearten the hosts who stuck purposefully to their task.
The almost inevitable goal however was not long in coming. An excellently weighted ball between the full back and the centre back being slotted clinically past the helpless Lizzie on twelve minutes.
The visitors were starting to get properly into their stride now and, shortly after opening the scoring, following the interception of a clearance a searing shot from twenty yards struck the Altrincham crossbar.
The visitors train between four and six times per week and the fitness and cohesion this brings were the catalyst for the second goal on the quarter hour. A ball was played into the path of a striker who was able to beat Caroline before again finishing efficiently.
Steph and Cloe continued to work industriously to try to force an error from the visitors’ defenders whilst Georgia and Jess worked up and down the flanks offering valuable support to the full backs. Gail and Kate played tirelessly in the centre of the park trying their best not only to protect the back four but also to glean some possession and get the hosts a little further up the field.
Caroline, Louise, Elina and Heather continued to defend purposefully, getting in the way, making blocks and tackles and clearing the danger wherever possible whilst Lizzie was having an excellent evening, alert in coming off her line to smother the danger and demonstrating good handling.
Despite the superb efforts of all the Altrincham players, though, Lee further extended their lead on nineteen minutes. A cross from the Altrincham right was met first time, the shot rebounding off the post and over the line. On twenty one minutes Chloe entered the fray, replacing Kate who needed treatment on a toe injury.
Whilst Altrincham were adjusting to the change in personnel the vistors made it 4-0 when an excellent ball bisected the home defence and the ball was powered home from the edge of the penalty area.
Many teams, having conceded four goals in less than fifteen minutes would have capitulated but not Altrincham. Each and every player continued to give their all for the team. Caroline making two noteworthy interceptions and Jess tracking back half the length of the pitch to put in a tackle being only three of many excellent pieces of defending by every player.
On thirty seven minutes Georgia, having run herself to a standstill, was replaced by Emma before two minor injuries to Heather and Steph on the cusp of half time led to the introduction of Tashaa and the return of Kate. Half Time was reached with the score Altrincham FC Ladies 0 Lee University 4.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 0|
LEE UNIVERSITY FLAMES 4
In spite of the score, the Management could do no other than to express their pleasure at the dedication and effort shown by the Altrincham Ladies against what was clearly very impressive opposition.
A few suggestions were aired which would hopefully help a little and Natalie was introduced in place of Cloe who had worked impressively up front.
For the second half Altrincham changed their formation a little with Natalie playing wide on the right, Jess operating in the centre of midfield and Emma ploughing a lone furrow up front. Only six minutes had passed before Lizzie was again impressing, making a fine stop from a shot six yards out.
The respite unfortunately was short lived, two minutes after Lizzie’s save she was wrong footed by a deflection on a shot which crept in at the near post. At this juncture Steph returned to the fray, replacing Natalie who was feeling a little unwell.
After seventeen minutes of the half Altrincham managed their first shot on goal when Kate spotted the visitors' keeper off her line and audaciously tried to score from just inside the Lees’ half. Lees were soon threatening once again and it took a clearance off the line by Caroline to prevent the lead being further extended.
Twenty four minutes of the half had elapsed when Lizzie was withdrawn having had an excellent game, Lucy, a former Keele University player, coming on to replace her in goal. There followed a flurry of substitutions by both sides. An example of the fitness levels of the visitors being given when, having been withdrawn just after the hour mark, two of their players proceeded to virtually sprint ten laps of the adjoining pitch.
Despite being put under intense pressure the Altrincham Ladies were still battling incredibly hard for each other and the team. Every player giving their all for the cause.
On seventy minutes, following a melee in the penalty area first Heather and then Gail cleared off the line to maintain the 5-0 score line. Lucy proved herself with a fine double save and was very vocal in advising her defenders what she wanted. Unfortunately though, Lees were to score a sixth and final goal six minutes from time when a shot from inside the penalty area crept inside the near post.
The Match finished with Lee University coming out as deserved 6-0 winners. However the Altrincham Ladies have every reason to be extremely proud of their efforts against a team the like of whom we will not meet again for some time.
Many teams, even some operating at a higher level than Altrincham would have capitulated and conceded many more than six goals. Enormous credit is due to every player who pulled on an Altrincham shirt this evening.
These are the teams which Altrincham must aspire to emulate and we will have taken lots of positives and many learning points from the game.
Lee University, their players and staff, were a credit and all at Altrincham wish them every success both on the remainder of their trip and in the forthcoming season.
Thanks are due to Mersey Valley FC for their help and hospitality. Also the pitch is very much worthy of mention. Clearly a lot of time and resources have been very well spent over the summer as the surface was excellent and contributed to the pace of the game.
Finally mention must be made of the excellent support at the game. It was a damp and dreary night but approaching 100 spectators braved the elements to support both teams. Altrincham’s next pre-season fixture is away at Stockport County on August 23rd.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 0|
LEE UNIVERSITY FLAMES 6