Following on from their impressive win away at Chesterfield last weekend, the side returned to league action as they hosted Wigan Athletic at Stockport Sports Village. A number of regulars were missing for the game, most notably Jeneyah Webb and Katie Brusell, allowing for a first team call-up for Imogen Porteous-Williams.
The Hatters lined up in a variation of the 4-3-3 formation, with Blackett in goal and Wilson, Hayes, Connor and O’Reilly in defence. The midfield was made up of Jones, Hancock and John, while Douglas, Mapp and Massey rounded off the starting eleven.
Out the sides came, County kicking from right to left, and we were underway. A few early breaks down the left from Massey didn’t go unnoticed by the Latics, who focussed their defensive attention on the recent Development Squad call-up. This left space for Mapp and Douglas in the centre, which was used to good effect as the Hatters were able to break away a number of shots from distance.
Some good defensive work from Connor and Hayes kept the visitors at bay, their only real attempt early on coming from a significant distance from goal, which didn’t trouble Lauren Blackett. Then, just before the 20-minute mark, a good break from Massey through the centre allowed her to square the ball across the edge of the box to Chloe Mapp, who curled home with a sweet finish to give County the lead.
Only a few minutes later, a corner taken by Douglas on the left found itself in a dangerous area as Abi Hayes attempted to place home from close range, with only some defensive heroics denying the defender of her first County goal. Massey continued to make a nuisance of herself, linking up well with John and O’Reilly on the left.
County’s final chance of the half saw the ball in the back of the net through Jodie Hancock, only to be disallowed for offside.
HT | County 1 (Mapp 19’), Wigan 0.
Another strong start to the second half for County, as Wilson and Jones pushed forward on the right. A last ditch tackle from hayes prevented the Latics from getting through on goal at the other end. The second half was shaping into a more even half, with the Hatters coming closest in the opening stages of the half through a Nicola Connor header from close range which fell just wide of the far post.
County finally got their second through some brilliance from Claire O’Reilly. The ball was played back from a Wigan defender to the feet of the County left back, who struck from 35 yards towards goal, wrongfooting the goalkeeper and doubling County’s lead.
The visitors pulled one back five minutes later, through a close range effort. This was swiftly followed by a free-kick on the halfway line for the Latics. A looping ball in from the No. 11 found it’s way into the box and then into the back of the net through a defensive miscommunication to make it 2-2.
This sparked some flowing football from County, a run from Douglas down the right led to a free-kick just outside the Wigan penalty area. The ball in from O’Reilly was superb and was met by Nicola Connor at the edge of the six yard box, who headed home to put County back ahead.
The 90 minute mark passed, and with just seconds on the clock, County found themselves with free-kick about 25 yards from goal. O’Reilly stepped over the ball, she took a short run up and curled the ball up and over the wall, then into the top left corner of the goal to make it 4-2.
FT | County 4 (Mapp 19, O’Reilly 67’, 92’, Connor 86’), Wigan 2 (73’, 84’).
Team: Blackett, Wilson, O'Reilly, Hayes, Connor (Porteous-Williams), Hancock, Jones, John, Mapp (Reeves), Douglas, Massey (Wolstencroft).
POTM: Abigail Hayes
A full gallery of the game can be found here.