A massive game for our first team this weekend as they hosted fellow unbeaten side, FC United Of Manchester at Stockport Sports Village.
Fresh off the back of their 10-1 thrashing of Penrith last weekend, the Hatters were looking to extend their run of wins in competitive games this season to eight games with another win at home to an FC United side who hadn’t lost a league game in three years.
There were no changes to the squad, with the same side lining up in blue and white as there was the previous week, with Hanifa Douglas and Shellby Wolstencroft returning to the bench after a week of not being in the squad.
The teams emerged from the centre tunnel to a crowd of 134 supporters, with the away side’s supporters donning flags at either end of the ground. The Rebels attempted to get the psychological advantage early on by opting to make the side swap ends at the start of the game, meaning County were attacking towards the southern end of the pitch during the first period.
The visitors had the early spells of possession, before a piercing run down the right from Wilson lead to a County corner. O’Reilly whipped in the corner, which was initially headed back to the full-back. She then turned and curled another ball in, which was headed away from goal by the Reds’ defence. This header was only to be met by Jodie Hancock, however, as she buried the ball into the bottom corner from 10 yards out to give the Hatters the lead.
United continued to pile on the pressure, eventually breaking down the left and earning themselves a free-kick. The resulting free-kick was parried away by Blackett in the County goal, only to be tucked home by Rebecca Foster to bring the visitors level.
Late in the half, a strong run from Reeves through the midfield lead to the Rebels’ goalkeeper in tears just five yards from goal. She appeared to fall heavily on her ankle before Reeves slid in to get the ball. This stopped play for about five minutes while Ainsworth received treatment.
HT | County 1 (Hancock 5’), FCUM 1 (Foster 23’)
County came out in the second half straight out of the blocks. A great run from Brusell through the centre allowed for Chloe Mapp to pull into space. A superb ball through from the ex-Liverpool midfielder fell to the feet of Mapp, who lobbed the goalkeeper with an expertly-executed finish to give the Hatters the lead.
The visitors came close again at the other end. If not for some Blackett heroics, the Reds may have drawn level just minutes after Mapp’s goal for the home side. The County ‘keeper making a great save to her left to keep the score at 2-1.
Brusell got in on the action herself, with a header in the 58th minute through yet another set piece from O’Reilly. This gave the home side the two goal cushion they desperately needed. United made a few formational changes after the third, as they pushed more players forward.
The introduction of Douglas and Wolstencroft created a new threat for the visitors, one which seemed all too familiar. Wolstencroft was an ex-player of the visiting team, which made the next five minutes all the more sweet. A good pass from Douglas into the onrushing Wolstencroft was hammered home from outside the box. It was a moment filled with emotion for the striker, who ran almost half the length of the pitch and into the arms of manager Ronnie Green.
The visitors came close to a consolation late on, but a heroic goal-line clearance from Nic Connor prevented the Reds getting a second, preserving County’s three goal lead.
Scott Healey blew for full-time and the Hatters had done it. They had broken the Rebels’ three year run of unbeaten league games with an outstanding performance at Stockport Sports Village.
FT | County 4 (Hancock 5’, Mapp 46’, Brusell 58’, Wolstencroft 84’), FCUM 1 (Foster 23’)
Team: Blackett, Wilson, Hancock, Connor (C), O’Reilly, John, Reeves, Jones, Brusell, Webb, Mapp.
Subs: Douglas, Wolstencroft, Hayes, Massey
POTM: Katie Brusell
For a full gallery of the game, click here.