Women stay top of the league with ’Battling’ display in Woodley
At the home of Stockport Town FC (formerly Woodley Sports), United’s women, tucked away on a short, narrow grass pitch in the bottom corner of an impressive multi-pitch 3G facility, faced Stockport County Blues on Sunday. The reds battled spells of controversy to ultimately display exemplary restraint and dignity in overcoming their worthy opponents 6-1 to stay top of the league.
County took an early lead courtesy of a penalty award that surprised both sets of players and responded with a Jade Parker strike two minutes later. Kirsty Chambers gave United the lead on 20 minutes to conclude the first half scoring. Beth Tattersall scored soon after the break and Jess Battle struck a hatrick of seasoned quality in only her second outing for the reds, to round off the scoring.
FC made a positive start to the game looking to continue their impressive form from the Blackpool game last weekend. Tattersall posed the early threats and the Stockport keeper, Fran Singleton, held well at her near post to deny United’s flying winger.
The home side won a throw deep in the red’s half which was delivered into the United area. To the disbelief of both sides and many on the sidelines, the referee awarded an innocuous penalty, allegedly for a push. Amy Gillingham produced a fine one handed save from Lucy Milward pushing the ball up against the bar but Milward reacted fastest to smash home the rebound from close range.
Shaken but undeterred the reds pushed forward and within two minutes were deservedly level as Parker broke beyond the Blues defence with Singleton swiftly off her line to smother the initial shot as the ball broke kindly for Parker to half volley into the unguarded goal.
If the first penalty award was innocuous the second on 12 minutes was frankly bizarre as another alleged push was penalised. Up stepped Imogen Elbourn driving to Gillingham’s left producing a stunning save from the red’s custodian and restoring a sense of justice to proceedings.
United settled into their passing rhythm and were enjoying moderate success down the right where Parker was fouled 25 yards from goal. Cometh the hour cometh FC’s dependable Captain as Chambers curled her free kick over Singleton into the top corner as the half neared its mid point.
The remainder of the half saw both teams trading opportunities, Singleton being commanding in her goal whilst FC’s defence limited chances for the home side to long range efforts that rarely troubled Gillingham.
United were on the front foot from the restart as Tattersall and Battle worked the ball to the edge of the Stockport area for Tattersall to fire just wide. Good close control and direct play on the bye line saw Parker cut the ball back to Jess McCarrick who produced another fine save from Singleton.
Stockport launched an attack of their own that was thwarted by Fran Davies and Morgan McWhirter as the ball went back into midfield where Battle spun well in the centre circle and released Tattersall charging down the right. The winger headed straight for goal and curled her shot past the onrushing Singleton for United’s third of the afternoon on 49 minutes.
Parker and Battle were thwarted by Singleton who was proving a formidable last line of defence for the Blues but Battle in particular was not to be denied for long as the striker rose superbly at the near post to head home beyond the despairing dive of the keeper from a pin point Chambers delivery just past the hour.
McWhirter broke up a promising County attack playing the ball into midfield where McCarrick won a bruising but fair challenge releasing Battle down the right. The striker had one thing on her mind as she stayed goal side of her pursuers and headed towards goal calmly curling her shot over Singleton for her brace and FC’s fifth of the game.
Davies headed a Chambers corner just wide on 78 minutes and a couple of minutes later Abbie Carrington released Chambers down the left and her early shot deceived a retreating Singleton but just cleared the far post.
As the game entered its final minute, superb combination in midfield between McCarrick and substitute Leah Dolan saw the latter slide a superb pass into the stride of Battle who rounded off an impressive second half firing across Singleton and into the bottom corner registering her 4th goal in her first two games bagging the sixth FC hatrick of the campaign.
Allisha Marsh showed her lightening pace down the right as she threatened a 7th earning a stoppage time corner instead that Chambers delivered deep to the back post for Davies to head over the angle of bar and post signalling the last meaningful action of a difficult contest.
Next Sunday the Women reach a milestone as they welcome Egerton Ladies to Broadhurst Park on the occasion of their 100th competitive game since forming back in 2012. Why not round off the Salzburg Friendly & Beer Festival weekend by cheering on the girls who really appreciate all your support. Thank You.
Report by Rob Fullen
FC Player of the game: Jade Parker – in a difficult game on many levels, Jade let her feet do the talking putting in a skilful performance and scoring the all important equaliser to steady the ship.
Teams 29th January 2017: Attendance: 56
FC United of Manchester Women: 6 (2)
13. Amy Gillingham
20. Morgan McWhirter
2. Fran Davies
3. Abbie Carrington
4. Olivia Greenhalgh
17. Jess McCarrick
6. Mia Holden
15. Jade Parker (Goal 8 mins)
10. Beth Tattersall (Goal 49 mins)
11. Kirsty Chambers (Capt) (Goal 20 mins)
12. Jess Battle (Goals 62, 70 & 90 mins)
5. Chelsea Patient
8. Adora Yau
9. Shellby Wolstencroft (for No6 59mins)
14. Leah Dolan (for No4 82mins)
19. Allisha Marsh (for No10 74mins)
Stockport County Blues: 1 (1)
1. Fran Singleton
2. Leah Ashworth
3. Lorna Brown
4. Emma Armstrong
5. Lauren Digby
6. Jade Malone
7. Lucy Milward (Goal 6 mins [Pen Rebound])
12. Imogen Elbourn
9. Dani Bezzina
10. Megan Armstrong
15. Jodie Palmer
8. Beth Brookes
11. Rachel Taylor (for No15 64mins)
14. Abby Stevenson (for No10 75mins)
16. Vicky Brown
18. Rachel Bend
Referee: Les Lever
Asst Referee: Daniel Adelman (Yellow flag)
Asst Referee: N/K (Yellow & Orange Flag)
Venue: Stockport Sports Village, Lambeth Grove, Woodley, SK6 1QX