With the first team having no fixture this week due to postponed fixtures in both the league and the Cheshire Cup, the media team travelled to Stockport Sports Village for the Development Squad's fixture against Altrincham Reserves in the Cheshire Womens and Youth League.
Rosie had almost a full squad to choose from, opting to bring in Emma Massey who had been a part of Ronnie Green's squad over the past few weeks. One omission was Rachel Mason, who was unable to play, allowing for Under 18s player Ellie Rowley to be called in for her first start. Holly Shute started at right back, the winger starting in place of Yasmin Ahmed who missed part of the warmup. Katie Vickers kept her usual place at the left of defence, while Jessica Tonge lined up alongside Rowley in front of Niamh Attfield in the County goal.
It was a fast start for the Hatters, with Holly Shute being fouled just inside the opposition half for a free-kick. The free-kick, taken by Shute, was curled into the box and met by the head of Katie Vickers who put the ball past the Robins' goalkeeper and into the back of the net to give County the early lead.
This was quickly followed by scuffle in the box from a corner which Holly Stokes headed towards goal, hitting the woodwork in the process. Maia Lewis was on hand to place home the rebound from an awkward angle, doubling the Hatters' lead with just 17 minutes on the clock.
Following Lewis' goal, which gave County some breathing room, Emerson made two changes, bringing on Jess Gallagher and Yasmin Ahmed for the goalscorer, Lewis, and Holly Shute.
A quality ball over the top from Katie Vickers fell to the feet of Holly Stokes who performed some mild acrobatics, almost roundhouse kicking the ball into the goal from the edge of the box to add another to the goal tally and extending the Hatters' lead.
Next to get in on the goals was Niamh Nolan, who took the ball about 25 yards from goal just a minute after Stokes' goal. She opened up some space for a shot and drilled home an effort from distance, making it an almost impossible task for the goalkeeper who couldn't react to the power of the shot as County lead 4-0 just after the 20 minute mark. The midfielder brought out her inner Alan Shearer with the celebration, a single-armed affair.
The Robins scored what looked to be a consolation goal just before the break, getting in down the left and curling it past Attfield in the County goal.
HT | County 4 (Vickers, Lewis, Stokes, Nolan), Altrincham 2
A shaky start to the second period, as Altrincham came close a number of times to breaking through. An injury to Porteous-Williams just after the restart also didn't help matters. Emerson changed shape, with Shute moving to the left of midfield and Gallagher moving further out on the right, leaving space for Massey and Stokes down the midfield.
Massey acted as the workhorse of the attack, making runs at the defensive line before playing good balls to her fellow attacking players. But County were denied by a more organised defensive setup from the visitors, who eventually used their ability to break on the counter attack to pull another two goals back in the game which made for nervy viewing for a portion of the second half.
Those nerves were short-lived however, as Holly Stokes made a good run in behind the defense, being fouled in the area for her troubles. Captain, Niamh Nolan, took the ball and drilled it home to regain the two-goal cushion that County so desperately needed.
FT | County 5 (Vickers, Lewis, Stokes, Nolan (2)), Altrincham 3
Squad: Niamh Attfield, Holly Shute, Jessica Tonge, Ellie Rowley, Katie Vickers, Jessica Hill, Niamh Nolan, Imogen Porteous-Williams, Holly Stokes, Maia Lewis, Emma Massey.
Subs: Yasmin Ahmed, Jessica Gallagher.
POTM: Holly Stokes