MERSEY GIRLS (1) 2
ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES (1) 3
North West Women's Regional League, Divison 1 (South) match
Sunday, 18 October 2015
ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES: Lucy O’Dwyer, Heather Scott, Louise Edleston, Elina Parker, Judy Henson, Gail Simpson, Rosie Stone, Georgia Plant, Jess Hartopp, Liss Taylor, Rachael Philip. Substitutes: Cloe Alsopp, Alisha Palmer.
Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.
The Ladies once again made the trip along the M62, to take on Mersey Girls in the third and final game of the recent run of away fixtures.
Altrincham welcomed back Liss and also introduced new signing Rosie Stone, an attacking midfielder who has had spells at Old Actonions and Stockport County in the past.
Altrincham lined up in a 3-4- formation. In front of Lucy were Louise, Elina and Heather. Just in front, were Judy, Gail, Georgia and Jess, whilst Rosie played in just behind Liss and Rachael.
Mersey girls kicked off and Altrincham were immediately on the back foot as Gail atypically miscontrolled the ball. Fortunately the resulting shot passed harmlessly wide. The run of games Lucy has had since the unfortunate injury to Lizzie seems to have increased her confidence and, on three minutes, she left nobody in any doubt as to her intentions before coming out to gather a long ball.
Immediately from this Rosie tried an impressive through ball to Jess which, unfortunately, gathered pace on the dry pitch and ran away from her. Rachael playing in an unaccustomed striking role linked well with Jess and Rosie shortly afterwards but the opportunity was stifled by the Mersey defence.
It had been a fairly even start with both teams getting the ball down and trying to play incisive passing football although arguably the hosts had enjoyed slightly the better of the first ten minutes. The picture very nearly changed on about ten minutes though when Rachael swivelled and struck an excellent left footed shot which narrowly cleared the bar.
Altrincham were now having a period of ascendancy themselves but were just unable to apply the final touch with good play down the left petering out as the ball ran away down the hill and Rachael being eased off the ball after an excellent pass by Judy had set her free.
On the quarter hour, however, the breakthrough came. An excellent run down the right by Jess was followed by an accurate cross and Liss got across in front of her marker to finish clinically and give Altrincham a well-deserved lead. Lucy again impressed on seventeen minutes taking a good catch under pressure. She released Jess who again hurtled down the Alty right but this time her cross was blocked.
Elina mixed things a little shortly after this, hitting a long diagonal ball which was headed behind by a stretching defender. From the resulting corner, accurately delivered by Georgia, Louise got a header on target which was saved. Altrincham were attacking down both flanks, trying to stretch the Mersey defence. Gail playing an intelligent ball down the left into the path of Liss who’s attempted cross was blocked for yet another Altrincham corner.
This having been cleared, Alty soon regained possession and this time attacked down their right until Jess was foiled by an excellent tackle. Louise proved what the Alty contingent already knew; she is more than an extremely accomplished defender, by playing a superb ball down the line to Jess who was again thwarted by an alert defender at the cost of a throw in.
As has become apparent thus far this season though, you cannot rest on your laurels and, on twenty-six minutes, Lucy was again called into action, tipping a fierce shot over the bar.
Mersey Girls, clearly energised by this, began to apply pressure and Georgia had to track back responsibly to blunt an attack before demonstrating her athleticism by chasing down an opposition defender to force a corner. Just past the half hour there was some concern when Jess was on the receiving end of a somewhat rumbustious challenge but she soon recovered and was able to continue.
Rosie was showing all the ability which had seen her play at a higher level than this and almost released Jess with a sublime pass only for the ball to once again run away down the hill and escape her. Judy then intercepted well in the middle of the park but her attempted through ball was intercepted by an alert defender.
More excellent pressing, this time by Liss, won Alty another corner on thirty eight minutes but the ball into Jess unfortunately bounced away to safety. Any neutral in attendance cannot help but have been entertained as play switched from end to end, both teams playing good football. It was something of a surprise therefore when the Mersey Girls equaliser came from one of the very few “route one” balls of the entire half.
The ball having come over the entire Alty team and left the Mersey Girls forward all alone, Lucy came racing out, she stood up and made herself an imposing barrier but the ball was skilfully lifted over her and into the net.
If this affected the Alty players then they most certainly didn’t show it as almost immediately from the restart Rosie turned smartly and smashed a shot just wide of the goal. The final notable action of the first half again involved Alty pressing forward when a teasing cross by Rachael was expertly picked off Jess’s toes by the home custodian.
Half-time was reached with the score Mersey Girls 1 Altrincham FC Ladies 1
|Half-Time: MERSEY GIRLS 1|
ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 1
Keith and the management team, whilst clearly disappointed by the late equaliser, were nonetheless upbeat and optimistic. The players were urged to move the ball perhaps a little more quickly, to use the width and to maybe gamble on a shot more often.
On the defensive side, it was pointed out that Mersey Girls were able to find a player in space in midfield more often than was ideal and plans were made to try to counter that.
Every Altrincham player had performed well in the first half. Lucy had been vocal and secure whilst the back three, supported when required by the midfield had not experienced too many problems. On the more offensive side of the game Gail and Judy had broken play up well and either taken the ball forward or moved it quickly to allow Alty to press, the two flank players had been tireless in their work up and down the flanks, one minute putting in dangerous crosses and the next tracking back.
Rosie had shown her class and ability with some excellent control and sublime passing whilst Rachael and Liss had worked the home defenders hard with their willingness to run the channels and make space for others.
Altrincham kicked off the second half and immediately began to put pressure on the hosts again. A free kick, taken by Rachael on forty-eight minutes reached Judy whose shot was saved. Judy was again in the action shortly afterward; her cross shot being palmed away on the stretch by the home keeper.
On fifty -four minutes Rachael, who had worked hard and selflessly in an unfamiliar forward role was withdrawn with Cloe her replacement. Despite the early Altrincham pressure it was, in fact the hosts who took the lead on fifty-eight minutes. An Altrincham goal kick was headed back unopposed and, following a sharp pass the ball was clinically placed into the bottom corner.
With the way the season had gone so far for Altrincham this situation had the potential to be tricky but the equaliser was almost immediate. Rosie intercepted a somewhat under hit clearance by the home keeper and adroitly lobbed the keeper to restore parity.
The hosts, playing some great football, once again fashioned an opportunity on sixty-three minutes, the striker running through on goal from an angle before firing off a powerful strike. Lucy however stayed big and pushed the shot over the bar for possibly her best save of the match to date.
The indutry shown by the Alty players bore more fruit with about twenty minutes remaining. Excellent closing and pressing by both Cloe and Liss allowing Rosie to dispatch a shot into the corner of the net to restore Alty’s advantage. Altrincham now came under increasing pressure from the hosts as they attempted to once again level the scores.
However great industry from all the players who chased, harried, blocked and tackled indefatigably meant that Mersey Girls were unable to create any particularly clear cut opportunities.
In addition to the superb defence, Alty were still always on the lookout for any opportunity to extend their advantage, using the speed within the team to, where possible, turn defence into attack. On eighty minutes one such sweeping move down the Alty left was well defended at the cost of a corner which when delivered was volleyed narrowly wide by Cloe.
On eighty one minutes Jess who had worked incredibly hard was replaced by Alisha. More Mersey pressure, with less than five minutes remaining, was calmly dealt with by the Altrincham players who played their way out of trouble by good passing and movement.
The game finished with Altrincham having recorded their first win of the season, in fact their first point since promotion by a score of 3-2. Mersey Valley selected Judy as having been Altrincham’s most impressive player whilst the Management accolade went to Rosie for an impressive debut.
Each and every of the thirteen players had contributed handsomely to this win though. Thanks are due to our travelling supporters for their encouragement of the players.
Altrincham next play Merseyrail Bootle this coming Sunday, October 25th at Mersey Valley. Kick-off is 2.00pm and all supporters are most welcome.
|Full-Time: MERSEY GIRLS 2|
ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 3