FC United of Manchester
FC United of Manchester
FC United of Manchester
FC United Women complete cup double with Argyle Cup Final win over Stockport County LFC
FC United Women completed a 2018/19 cup double by beating Stockport County LFC 5-2 (AET) in Sunday’s Argyle Cup Final at Millbank Linnets Stadium.
The Reds went into the interval 2-1 down despite Olivia Greenhalgh’s early opener and left it late to equalise with Kate O’Gara heading home in stoppage time before the latter scored again early in extra-time, as did Cara Fields and Jess Battle to help United to a third successive Argyle Cup title following a thrilling encounter.
The Reds had beaten Stockport County Ladies in the same Final last season and in hope of a similar result to that one twelve months ago, Luke Podmore two changes to the side that overcame Salford City Lionesses on the way to another County Cup title in midweek; Yvette Loukes and Laura Garner returned who were both ineligible for that fixture.
With Wednesday’s Manchester FA Women’s Challenge Cup Final win United’s most recent outing, the Reds looked in full swing from the off and attempted to capitalise on their opponents’ lack of recent game time, with them not playing since April. Jess Battle thought she’d given FC the perfect start having found the net after two minutes, only for her goal to be ruled out for the use of a hand in the process.
The Reds may have been denied there but continued to make the pressure tell and jumped out into an early lead on six minutes. Kirsty Chambers’ in-swinging corner met the head of Olivia Greenhalgh who directed it goal-bound and over the line to put the holders ahead.
Stockport weren’t to be shaken after going behind however, making the most of their first chance against the run of play. The ball broke to County forward Chloe Mapp who allowed the ball to bounce across onto her right foot before finding the bottom corner with the strike, to level the scores inside 10 minutes in Runcorn.
After an energetic start from both teams, the game settled into a steady rhythm as the midway point in the first half approached. A Stockport flick wide of the target and a juggle by the Hatters’ ‘keeper showed the best signs of a second at either end.
With half-time approaching, Stockport fired themselves into the lead for the first time in the afternoon. Chloe Mapp was the scorer once again, impressively firing into the top corner from range to turn the game on its head going into the break.
When the second 45 got underway, it was the leaders who created the first real opportunity following the break, but Chloe Ainsworth stood firm after racing off her line to collect the ball.
Luke Podmore reacted in search of an equaliser, making a double substitution with Corie Mather and Aimee O’Keeffe replacing the injured Rebecca Foster, and Yvette Loukes.
A switch of system also immediately benefited the Reds, after Laura Garner had the ball in the net, but for the second time in the afternoon the Assistant Referee had the flag up to rule the goal out for offside.
No flag this time, as Jess Battle went even closer to putting FC back on level terms, but she dragged her shot wide of the far post following Aimee O’Keeffe’s powerful run and incisive pass to find the Reds’ no.9 in space.
FCUMW then made the third and final change of the afternoon with just under 20 minutes to play as skipper Kirsty Chambers was replaced by Emily Marsh.
Stockport continued to try and catch United’s attacking mentality out on the break, including a fearsome shot that flew just over the crossbar in the closing stages.
However, they couldn’t extend the lead allowing United to get the leveller with seconds left of the three added on minutes. Corie Mather’s ball to the back post found the head of Kate O’Gara who directed the ball beyond the Stockport goalkeeper to spark wild scenes and force the game into extra time.
United nearly won the game in the dying seconds too after Jess Battle’s acrobatic attempt had beaten the goalkeeper but could only come back off the crossbar.
After a brief break and a switch of sides, the Mather-O’Gara connection was clicking again to give the Reds an extra time lead. Mather again crossed from the right with O’Gara diving forward to head home a second in just a matter of minutes to put United on top.
Luke Podmore’s side never looked back from there and had Stockport on the ropes for the majority of the additional period. O’Gara, on a hat-trick at this point, fired a half-volley over the bar after some good pressing from the front forced the ball into her path.
By this point, the work rate from FCUMW was like that of an early stage in the game and for it they stretched the lead to 4-2 as the game’s clock reached three figures. Mather was again involved, brining the ball down inside the box for Cara Fields who sent the defender to the ground before firing home. Composed as ever.
Soon after, Aimee O’Keeffe astonishingly nearly made it 5-2 but the goalkeeper got down to gather her effort on the turn, despite fumbling on the first attempt. 4-2 it remained at half-time of extra time. Not many at Millbank Linnets Stadium could believe what they were witnessing.
With 15 minutes to see out in order to create another piece of Club history, the Reds looked fired up in what would also be the last action of the 2018/19 campaign. They did have to survive a scare however, after a whipped ball to the back post only just evaded the out-stretched leg of a Stockport attacker.
That was as bad as it got though with United continuing to play with freedom in the game’s final 10 minutes. Laura Garner saw what would have been a spectacular free kick tipped around the post, moments before Fran Davies got up well to clear a Stockport corner.
Soon after, Emily Marsh’s ball found the run of Jess Battle who powered past the defender before slotting the ball under the goalkeeper to get FCUMW’s fifth goal of the afternoon, the third in extra time.
That strike turned out to be the final bit of action in the Final with the Reds lifting the trophy for the third season running and completing a 2018/19 cup double in the space of five days, having completed the defence of the County Cup on Wednesday evening.
Having ended the season on a high, on behalf of all the players and staff at FCUMW, we would like to say a big thank you for your support both yesterday and throughout the season. We’ll see you at Presentation Evening (details to be confirmed soon) and then in pre-season!
FCUMW Player of the Match: Kate O’Gara – Who else?! United’s no.20 popped up to score potentially United’s biggest goal of the season on 92 minutes to send the game to extra time before scoring what turned out to be the decisive goal less than a minute into the extra period. Not to mention a solid game at the back, before moving out onto the left of midfield to score both goals.
FC United of Manchester Women 5 (1): Ainsworth, O’Gara (Goals 90+2 mins, 91 mins), Davies, Carrington, Loukes, Greenhalgh (Goal 6 mins), Foster, Chambers (c), Garner, Fields (Goal 100 mins), Battle (Goal 116 mins)
Subs: Jackson (GK), Marsh (On for Chambers 71 mins), Mather (On for Loukes 60 mins), O’Keeffe (On for Foster 60 mins)
Stockport County LFC: Blackett, Wilson, Butler, Hancock, Connor (c), John, Reeves, Douglas, Mapp (Goals 9, 40 mins), Webb, Hayes
Subs: Mason, Limb, O’Reilly (On for Butler 52 mins), Jones (On for Douglas 82 mins), Wolstencroft (On for Mapp 77 mins)
Venue: Millbank Linnets Stadium, Stockham Lane, Murdishaw, Runcorn (WA7 6HP)
Competition: Argyle Cup Final
Referee: Kat McEvoy