ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES' TEAM MATCH REPORT

ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES (0) 2
ELLESMERE PORT TOWN LADIES (1) 2

North West Womens Regional League Divison One South match


Sunday, 3 April 2016


LINE-UP

ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES: Lucy O’Dwyer, Lucy Smith, Heather Scott, Bliss Molyneaux, Kye Brown, Jess Hartopp, Gail Simpson, Laura Dodds, Georgia Plant, Steffi Munoz, Liss Taylor. Substitutes: Lizzie Brereton, Alisha Palmer, Elina Parker & Danni Bezzina


REPORT

Report courtesy of Phil Taylor.

Altrincham welcomed Ellesmere Port Town to Mersey Valley for an oft postponed League fixture.

Port had inflicted a fairly heavy defeat on Altrincham in the first game of the season and narrowly won the recent Cheshire County Ladies' Cup Tie so this was sure to be a challenging game between two teams, both of whom like to get the ball down and pass. Altrincham employed a 4-4-2 formation, Lucy O behind a back four of Lucy S, Kye, Bliss and Heather with Jess, Gail, Laura and Georgia across the middle of the park.

Liss linked up with Spanish debutante Estefania (Steffi) to provide Alty’s strike force.

Altrincham opened proceedings and a quick ball from Laura released Georgia down the left. Some solid defending brought the attack to a halt though with Altrincham having only a throw in to show for their inventive start.

Port were immediately on the attack having regained possession and won a corner on three minutes which was comfortably cleared by the home defence.

Kye, playing in a slightly unfamiliar central defensive role was alert a minute later to see off another foray from the visitors,

Altrincham suffered a blow on five minutes when Laura went down behind play. First Team therapist Alan Ainsley who was in attendance went on to assess the injury and sadly Laura had to be withdrawn. Danni entered the fray playing in an attacking role with the versatile Liss dropping back to partner Gail in midfield.

Kye was again prominent defensively as the Alty team rebuffed another attack by Ellesmere Port. On eleven minutes good industry by Danni in closing down created a shooting chance for Steffi. Sadly though her shot was blocked by a defender. Steffi was by now getting acclimatised to the surface and the pace of the game, both quite different from her native Spain and on the quarter hour showed her tenacity in chasing back and effecting a good tackle.

All the good work by the hosts was almost undone soon after when some good movement in the box allowed a Port player a free header from a corner which fortunately went comfortably over the bar.

Danni was having an impact on the game and, following some good control and a neat turn she almost freed Georgia down the Alty left, the ball sadly just beating her to the bye line.

Danni was involved again on seventeen minutes, picking up possession and taking on her defender to force a corner. Steffi took the corner short to Heather whose cross was easily blocked.

On twenty minutes Lucy O produced the first of what would be a number of impressive saves, turning away an Ellesmere Port free kick.

The entire Altrincham team was working incredibly hard, defending from the front, through the midfield, down the flanks and across the back four. Heather was the latest player to demonstrate her defensive abilities on twenty five minutes covering across from the left back position to snuff out the danger.

It wasn’t all defending from Alty though. Jess made an impressive run down the right but the ball in was blocked. Gail was putting in her trademark perpetual motion midfield performance, tigerish in the tackle and tireless in her running. This was allowing Liss to play a tiny bit further forward trying to create openings.

Ellesmere Port then came even nearer to breaking the deadlock from another corner, a firm header being cleared away by Heatherfrom just in front of Lucy O.

Lucy O then produced two more excellent saves in as many minutes as Port seemed to further step up their efforts. That having been said, it was Altrincham who registered the next effort. Referee Mr Little played a good advantage after a foul on Jess. The ball then ran to Steffi who showed her class by easily beating two defenders before striking a firm shot on target but sadly too close to the visiting custodian.

This demonstration of skill was immediately followed by Steffi controlling a high ball in a manner which would not have looked out of place in a game at a significantly higher level.

Two minutes later and Bliss showed her defensive capabilities with a magnificent challenge to bring a Port attack to a stop. Lucy O then produced arguably her best stop to date, throwing herself full length to her right to palm away a fierce shot. This had, up to now, been as good a game as had been anticipated with both teams keen to get the ball down and play good passing football Although competitive the game had also been played in a very sporting manner, a credit to both team s Alty continued to soak up the pressure whilst trying to turn defence into attack quickly where possible.

Good defending on forty two minutes led to Alty being awarded a free kick. This was taken quickly and moved up field allowing Danni a good turn and firm shot which went narrowly wide.

Despite all the efforts of Alty, Ellesmere Port took the lead on forty four minutes when a striker got free on the edge of the area and drove her shot past the diving Lucy.

There would have been a time when Alty heads would have dropped at this juncture but not today. In the first minute of stoppage time Georgia made a strong run down the left before unleashing a powerful shot which the Ellesmere Port keeper saved well.

Half time came with Ellesmere Port holding a 1-0 lead. Keith and his management team, whilst clearly disappointed with the score, were quite optimistic as for long periods of the half, Altrincham had more than matched a team significantly higher up in the table. Stressing the importance of retaining possession Keith sent the players back out for the second half.


Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 0
ELLESMERE PORT TOWN LADIES 1

Every player who had represented Altrincham in the first half had done so with distinction. Lucy O had commanded not only her area but the whole half, barking out instructions and advice in addition to making some excellent saves.

Lucy S had gone about the business of defending in her normal quiet yet effective manner, belying her comparative youth and inexperience.

The central defensive pairing of Bliss and Kye had been strong and dominant, seeing off any number of visiting attacks, whilst Heather had, as always been tenacious in the tackle and always prepared to put her body on the line in the teams cause.

The loss early in the game of Laura had clearly been unfortunate but Gail and Liss had worked unstintingly in the centre of the park, not only to break up Port attacks but also to put Alty on the front foot.

Jess had been up and down the right flank, battling hard and causing all manner of problems whilst Georgia, who had also been up and down the left, had, despite coming up against two defenders at times, continued to try to make inroads.

Up front Steffi had shown all the skills and technique that we had seen in training together with demonstrating a superb work ethic and Danni had run channels, closed down and never given the visiting defence a moment’s respite.

Ellesmere Port kicked the second half off and Kye was immediately called on once again to defend admirably On forty eight minutes Heather went to ground with what seemed to be an ankle problem. However after treatment she was able to continue.

A minute later Lucy O came thundering off her line to claim a through ball at the feet of a visiting attacker. Clearly Heather’s injury was causing her more discomfort than initially thought and she was replaced by Elina. Once again the whole Altrincham team were giving everything, an example being Liss putting in a solid block in midfield.

On fifty five minutes Alisha replaced Danni who had run herself to a standstill. On the hour mark Liss pushed on past the strikers in pursuit of a superb through ball, pressuring the visiting defence into a hurried clearance.

Shortly afterward Kye again put in a superb challenge to stop a Port move in its tracks. It was somewhat against the run of play and very atypical of the game when a misplaced pass by Kye was collected by a visiting midfielder whose slide rule pass freed her team mate to place the ball firmly past Lucy O and double the Ellesmere Port lead.

Commendably, and demonstrating the team spirit within the whole squad, Alty just set about trying to repair the damage straight away. A free kick, delivered by Elina, just evaded Liss at the back post.

When Alty were awarded another free kick, some twenty five or so yards out, on sixty six minutes Elina moved forward to offer some additional aerial threat, leaving the kick to Georgia. Georgia however needed no additional threat of any kind as she drove the ball over the Port Keeper and into the net to halve the deficit.

Once again the Alty defence stood firm as the visitors pushed to try to reinstate their two goal advantage, Kye and Bliss both defending calmly and effectively.

On seventy two minutes Lizzie was introduced, as an outfield substitute, replacing Elina. At this point Alty went to three at the back pushing Lizzie up front with Alisha and Steffi playing just off her and the same midfield.

On seventy four minutes Alty got the equaliser their performance deserved. Lucy made an excellent catch before releasing a long kick, Lizzie touched it on and Alisha, as she has done a number of time before this season nipped in to beat the keeper to the ball and skilfully lift it over her and into the net.

Arguably Alty were in the ascendancy at this point and two minutes later another free kick, this one taken by Lizzie, required a good stop by the Ellesmere Port keeper.

A few well-chosen words of encouragement by the visiting manager though soon got his team moving and Lucy S was forced into an excellent challenge before Kye once again defended stoutly.

Lucy O powerfully punched away a swerving shot on eighty minutes and this allowed the ball to be moved on to Georgia. She moved purposefully forward before delivering a telling cross which narrowly evaded Lizzie.

Two minutes later and it was Bliss defending superbly, again this allowed Georgia a chance to run at her full back and deliver another excellent cross. Sadly though, on this occasion Jess had strayed offside.

With three minutes remaining Lucy S and Bliss combined effectively to shut down another Port attack. The final notable action was fittingly another excellent save by Lucy O.

The final whistle went shortly after with the points shared after a pulsating 2-2 draw.

Every Altrincham player can have much to be proud of in their performance. A team which had totally outplayed us only a few months previously had been matched.

Ellesmere Port selected Lucy O as having been our most impressive player as did her team mates whilst the Management went for Steffi who, despite it being her debut not only for Alty but in English football, had shown both real quality and a tremendous team ethic.

The Ladies next fixture is this coming Sunday, April 10th when we travel to FCUM for a League fixture.


Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC LADIES 2
ELLESMERE PORT TOWN LADIES 3