North West Women's Regional League, Divison 1 (South) match

Sunday, 20 September 2015


ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES: Lizzie Brereton, Heather Scott. Rachael Philip, Tashaa Nolan, Elina Parker, Gail Simpson, Kate Bryan, Jess Hartopp, Sue Roberts, Brogan Walsh, Alisha Palmer. Substitute: Lucy O’Dwyer


Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.

The Ladies made a somewhat belated start to life in the North West Women’s Regional League, visiting Ellesmere Port Town, League runners up for the past two seasons and 2014/15 Cheshire Ladies Cup finalists.

Illness, work commitments and unavailability meant that Altrincham were able to name a squad of 12 players, a number of whom had been asked to play in unfamiliar positions. It is testament to the spirit within the group that each and every player did so with no complaint and gave their all, enthusiasm and commitment more than compensating for inexperience.

Altrincham lined up with a 4-4-2 formation. Lizzie began in goal behind a back four of Rachael, Tashaa, Elina and Heather. Gail and Kate formed the central midfield pairing with Brogan on one flank and Jess on the other providing the width. Up front Sue partnered Alisha a recent signing from the Sale area.

Altrincham kicked off and initial skirmishes were quite even as both teams sought to work out their opponents and, in fact ,Alty were the first team to threaten, after five minutes, when Alisha blocked a clearance by the home custodian. Sadly though, her attempt to finish from an ever tightening angle went the wrong side of the post.

It was apparent from the outset, however, that the hosts 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 ten minutes, sadly for Alty, the hosts took the lead. A long ball clipped over Heather’s head was well finished across Lizzie and into the far corner of the goal.

Altrincham kept trying though and, almost from the restart, Rachael and Jess linked well down the right but the final ball into Sue just ran away from her and the chance was gone.

On the quarter hour Lizzie produced the first of what would be a number of impressive stops, pushing away an initial shot before getting quickly to her feet and clearing the danger. Ellesmere Port began to ramp up the pressure and two minutes later Lizzie once again had to be swiftly off her line to deal with a through ball.

Rachael, playing her first ever game as a right-back was performing as though she had played there all her life, defending particularly impressively to snuff out an Ellesmere Port attack on twenty six minutes. On the half hour mark Lizzie produced probably her best save to date, hurling herself through the air to push away a firm shot.

The Altrincham team was performing admirably from front to back. Sue and Alisha ran the channels and attempted to make space for themselves and team mates by intelligent movement. On the flanks Brogan and Jess were always a problem for the home full backs.

In central midfield Kate’s willingness to push on and support the forwards, allied to yet another perpetual motion performance by Gail, covering every blade of grass several times over, winning and distributing the ball meant that Alty remained a threat despite the pressure they found themselves under.

Elina and Tashaa scrapped and battled against two speedy, intelligent and mobile strikers and more than held their own whilst the two full backs, Rachael and Heather dealt admirably with the home wingers as well as providing cover and, where possible, looking to link with Jess and Brogan.

Lizzie had been excellent, demonstrating good handling, agility and an awareness of when to come out to deal with through balls. Despite having been under some pressure, it was probably something of a surprise when the hosts doubled their lead. A ball through the middle evaded Elina’s attempts to block it freeing the Ellesmere Port No 9. She ran through and, as Lizzie came out to meet her, lifted an impressive shot over Lizzie and into the corner of the net.

On thirty eight minutes more excellent link up play between Rachael and Jess allowed the latter to release Alisha who was thwarted by the home keeper rushing swiftly off her line to smother the chance. Play remained fairly even for the remainder of the half leaving the score at half time Ellesmere Port Town LFC 2 Altrincham FC Ladies 0.


Keith and his management team were more than happy with the performance in the first half. Alty had stuck to their principles, trying to play the “right way”. Everyone had worked very hard and Ellesmere Port were aware that they were in a game With an entreaty to carry on trying to pass the ball to feet in the second half Keith sent the players out for the second half.

At this point Lucy replaced Alisha, who had worked incessantly, up front.

The hosts began the second half and, within a minute, had added to their lead. Lizzie having made yet another impressive save was this time unable to stop the rebound being tucked away.

Ellesmere Port were ramping up the pressure, showing what an accomplished team they are and, less than a minute after conceding, Alty were again grateful to Lizzie for yet another excellent save. Rachael and Jess were developing a fine understanding down the right and, once again, they linked well on fifty five minutes, Jesses cross narrowly evading the onrushing Lucy.

After initially being under some pressure Alty were responding well and getting forward. Jess beat a couple of opponents before teeing up Kate, whose shot from twenty five yards passed narrowly wide of the target. On the hour mark Lizzie was once again swiftly off her line to save impressively. The rebound however was driven goalwards where Elina had taken up an excellent position and was able to head clear.

Ten minutes later, however, and the work which Ellesmere Port clearly put into their training sessions bore fruit once again. An incisive ball down the side of the Altrincham defence was collected by the home striker who clinically despatched her shot across Lizzie and into the far corner.

To their credit though, Altrincham persisted with their football. A good ball delivered by Kate just evading Jess at the far post before Rachael intercepted a clearance by the home keeper, her powerful strike passing just wide. Lizzie was yet again swiftly off her line to block on the seventy ninth minute and a minute later Heather bravely threw herself in front of a powerful strike.

Once again the Alty players were defending admirably as a team. chasing, harrying, tackling and blocking with Lizzie continuing to deal with what little came through.

As the game entered the final few minutes the effort put in by the Altrincham players, allied to the movement of the hosts started to have an effect on the Alty Ladies. On eighty-five minutes Lizzie once again saved magnificently. Unfortunately, once again she was unable to prevent the rebound being finished to make the score 5-0.

Two minutes later, as the pressure continued to mount Lizzie one again hurled herself through the air to push away a goal bound effort. On ninety minutes Rachael, having covered over from the right hand side to the left, hurled herself in front of a shot, deflecting it wide of the near post.

Lizzie was called upon once again in the second minute of stoppage time, leaping high to touch a shot over the crossbar. In the fifth minute of stoppage time Ellesmere Port scored a sixth when, despite Lizzie stretching every sinew, she was unable to get enough purchase on a shot to push it wide.

So the Final Score was Ellesmere Port LFC 6 Altrincham FC Ladies 0

At first sight this appears to be a heavy defeat for the Ladies although it could be argued, with some justification, that the score did not accurately reflect the performance the Ladies had put in today. Lizzie was voted player of the match both by the opposition and her team mates, whilst Jess took the Management accolade. Every player, though, is worthy of commendation on their commitment, endeavour and selflessness.

Next game for the Ladies is next Sunday – September 27th when we host FC United of Manchester Ladies at Mersey Valley. Kick Off is 2.00pm and all support will be most welcome.