After the side's 9-0 thrashing of Accrington last weekend, it was cup action at Stockport Sports Village against Wigan Athletic for County. As finalists last year, the Hatters aim to go one step further and win the entire competition. Since the loss to Middlesbrough in December, the side have added a new midfielder, Melissa Von Bargen, as well as seeing the return of Masa Butler from injury.
A slight delay to the kickoff of the game halted things pre-match, with the referee being delayed in transit to the game. A familiar approach to the game from manager Ronnie Green saw the regular 4-3-1-2 formation in action again, the opposition fielding an equally attacking lineup to start the game.
Upon starting the game, a number of good runs from Douglas down the left opened up space for Mapp and Hayes in the middle of the park. Both sides of the pitch showed real attacking intent with Reeves and Wilson making runs from the right. One good bit of play on the right from Reeves saw her play a driven cross into the six-yard box, which was knocked home by Mapp to give County the lead.
The Latics were level shortly after. A long ball over the top lead to a miscommunication between Hancock and Blackett, the former passing back to her goalkeeper, only for the ball to race past Blackett and be tapped in from near range by the onrushing striker.
The game wasn't level for long, as a good cross from the left following a darting run from O'Reilly saw Chloe Mapp direct an inch-perfect header towards goal to make it 2-1 with her 24th goal in 14 games this season.
Wigan then drew level again as O'Reilly fell just outside the home box, the visitors were quickest to react with a good looping effort from the right which dipped over Blackett, hit the woodwork then bounced into the goal to draw the sides level at 2-2.
Some good individual work from Douglas through the middle put the Wigan backline under pressue, one mistake by the centre-back put Douglas through on goal, who chipped a lovely shot over the 'keeper and into the goal to regain the lead for the Hatters.
HT | County 3-2 Wigan
Some early chances for Hayes and Mapp in the early minutes of the second half forced some strong saves from the Wigan goalkeeper, who was without doubt the standout performer for the visitors on the day. It was a lacklustre second half for both sides, with County getting inside the opposition more often but coming up short more times than not thanks to some heroics from the goalkeeper.
As the half drew to a close, a couple of substitutions were made, with Stokes replacing Mapp and Von Bargen replacing John. A corner, whipped in from the left, fell to Abi Hayes, who opened up some space and placed the ball into the back of the net to extend County's lead to 4-2. It was the centreback-turned-striker's fourth goal in two games.
A final change saw Rachel Mason make her home league debut for the first team this season in place of Abi Hayes as the Hatters switched to a 5-3-2 formation for the final five minutes.
FT | County (Mapp 2, Douglas, Hayes) 4-2 Wigan
Team: Blackett, Wilson, O'Reilly, Hancock, Connor, John (Von Bergan 75'), Jones, Reeves, Mapp (Stokes 67'), Douglas, Hayes (Mason 86').
Unused Subs: Massey, Butler.
POTM: Hanifa Douglas
Att: 54 (18 away)