A blustery wind and an uneven playing surface made for difficult conditions for the quarter final match between Rylands FC Women and Stockport County Ladies Development.
County opened the scoring midway through the first half with a breakaway goal following a good save by the County keeper, Niamh Attfield. This was quickly played out by Holly Stokes to Imy Williams who ran half the pitch and netted past Rylands ‘keeper into the far corner.
Following the break Rylands soon levelled the score with a well worked set piece free-kick from the edge of the box that wrong-footed the County defensive wall.
The rest of the second half was quite evenly balanced but County finished the 90 minutes the stronger team.
No extra time is playable in this competition so it was straight to penalties to decide who went through to the semi-final.
Katie Vickers opened the scoring for county, then Attfield pulled off a flying save to her right to deny Rylands their first spot kick.
All following penalties were converted with Williams, Niamh Nolan, Abbie Turner and Jess Tonge netting for County to complete a 3-5 win in the shoot-out and progressing to the semi-final where they will play AFC Stockport Ladies.
After a difficult game in the last round against Wigan at home, the Hatters landed another home tie in the Argyle Sports Cup, hosting Division One North side, Bury, at Stockport Sports Village.
Fresh off the back of some great news for the visitors, who will be moving to their male counterparts' 12000 seater stadium, Gigg Lane, Bury came to Woodley in high spirits. The home side saw a few changes to thei lineup, first starts for Rachel Mason and Masa Butler, along with a first start since October for Jeneyah Webb. Reeves, Connor and Mapp dropped to the bench, the latter still struggling following her early substitution in last week's game at home to Accrington dropped out of the starting side in the warm-ups.
It was a bright start as usual for County, as Webb tried to make her impact on the game early. Masa Butler made some early breaks down the left, playing a lovely ball into the far post which just evaded Hanifa Douglas.
Butler made a similar run just moments later and played a brilliant ball into Webb, but the striker couldn't get onto the end of the ball.
County continued to pile on the pressure but couldn't break through a strong Bury back line. The deadlock was eventually broken as a long ball over the top fell to Abi Hayes, who couldn't get the ball out of her feet quickly enough ans was dispossessed, only for the defender's block to fall to Douglas who curled it home from the edge of the box to make it 1-0.
The visitors levelled soon after, a good counter attack down the right was played across the face of goal. Hesitation from Blackett allowed the Shakers to poach the ball as a shot was whipped in from distance to level the scores at 1-1.
HT | County 1-1 Bury. (Douglas 29')
It was a tense opening to the second period as County continued to struggle to break down the Bury defense. The majority of chances for the Hatters came down the left as Butler and Webb tried to make nuisances of themselves.
The visitors consistently played a high front line, attempting to catch County on the break. The counter attack was quick and effective but a lack of cutting edge prevented them from taking the lead in the second period.
The Hatters took a late lead through Jeneyah Webb - a well worked free-kick allowed the striker to move into the box and placed the ball beyond the goalkeeper to win the tie for County. Following the final goal, new signing Jasmin Limb was able to make her debut, coming on in place of Abi Hayes with three minutes remaining.
FT | County 2-1 Bury. (Douglas, Webb)
TEAM | Blackett, Wilson, O'Reilly, Hancock, Mason, John, Jones, Butler, Douglas, Webb, Hayes.
SUBS | Mapp, Von Bargen, Limb, Reeves, Connor.
POTM | Butler
ATT | 38
County have been drawn at home to Sir Tom Finney or Warrington Wolverines in the Quarter Finals.
For a full gallery of photos, click here.
Following last weekend's win over league leaders, Tranmere Rovers, attention turned to the lower half of the table as the Hatters hosted strugglers, Accrington. County have been dominant home or away this season and so went into the game as hot favourites.
Kath Jones returned to the squad, but found herself on the bench, while development players Holly Stokes, Jess Hill and Rach Mason were called into the squad as substitutes.
The Hatters started the game at pace, with Melissa Von Bargen making a nuisance of herself in midfield with a number of strong tackles. Following a poor goal-kick from the visitors' 'keeper, Von Bargen intercepted a pass just outside the box and slotted through to Chloe Mapp who tucked home to continue her run of goalscoring this season.
The striker then went down clutching her chest, prompting an immediate substitution for Holly Stokes. The club's top scorer left the pitch in tears, it was later determined that the high winds and freezing temperatures had caused a flare up of Mapp's asthma.
The visitors had the fair share of the possession in the first half, but struggled to really threaten the County defense. A ball to Von Bargen in midfield was controlled well, but upon turning the Liverpudlian found herself under pressure, losing the ball before the striker lifted a lofted shot into the air which, when carried by the wind, went over the head of Blackett and into the back of the net.
From there, the visitors continued to pile on the pressure, Sophie John and Chaneece Reeves worked tirelessly in the middle of the pitch to keep the ball from reaching the County back line. The deadlock was eventually broken again though as Reeves made a marauding run down the right before playing in low drive for Abi Hayes to latch onto, making it 2-1.
Reeves got in on the goals herself for the second week in a row as she attempted to play a ball into Hayes once more. This time the ball, carried by the strong winds, looped up and over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net from some distance.
HT | County 3-1 Accrington
After a somewhat poor half from all accounts (despite the scoreline), the Hatters came out for the second half with a point to prove. A number of early chances fell the way of the home side as Hanna Wilson continued to make piercing runs down the right. Some early pressure allowed for a few early set-pieces and it was from one of those set-pieces that Holly Stokes got in on the action. An O'Reilly corner from the right was missed by the defenders at the front post, allowing for the 16 year old to put it home from close range, making it 4-1 to the girls in blue.
This goal prompted a substitution, Kath Jones coming on the place of Melissa Von Bargen on the right of a three-woman midfield. Jones provided a different attacking threat for the visitors to deal with as she linked up well with Wilson out wide a number of times.
A quality ball in from the right was then met by Holly Stokes on the edge of the six yard box with a sweet volley, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.
It was another set-piece that gifted the home side their fifth as yet another ball into the box from O'Reilly was met by Sophie John who directed the ball goalwards. Jodie Hancock leaped in front of the ball, which looked destined for the top corner, and knocked it in on the line. A dubious goal, but following a check with the goals panel, has been given to the centre-back.
The Hatters moved within a win of top spot with their win over league leaders, Tranmere Rovers, this weekend. The victory at Ellesmere Port Sports Village was County's ninth win out of nine in the league this season, moving them three points off the lead with five games in hand. A return to the squad for Jeneyah Webb from injury gave manager Ronnie Green a dilemma with his attacking options.
Chloe Mapp, who started the game on 24 goals in all competitions this season, Abi Hayes, the centre-back who has transitioned well as a striker with four goals in two games, and Holly Stokes, the development squad's most recent first team addition, all provide real competition for Webb's place. The returning striker had to settle for the bench in her first game back, as Hayes and Mapp started the game at the forefront of an attacking 4-3-1-2 formation. Kath Jones was also unavailable, meaning Melissa Von Bargen was able to make her first start in the blue and white.
It was a cagey start to the game for both sides, with the majority of the opening exchanges struggling to find their way through either side's defense. Some early corners from the Hatters showcased the visitors' aerial threat from set pieces. It was eventually the hosts that took their chances, catching the Hatters on the break to take the lead.
The Rovers then used this momentum to come close again with a sweeping ball across the face of Lauren Blackett's goal but wasn't met by the on-rushing attacker.
After a tough 40 minutes for County, the moment that the side needed came to fruition when Abi Hayes broke through on goal, curling a looping effort up and over the goalkeeper to level the scores for the Hatters, getting her fifth goal in three games in the process.
Things then got even better for the visitors when a good run from Hanna Wilson down the right allowed her to cross the ball into Chloe Mapp who took the ball down well on her chest before unleashing a quality strike into the top corner and giving County the lead on the stroke of half-time, this goal being her 25th of the campaign.
The start of the second half was much stronger from County, as Claire O'Reilly made a nuisance of herself on the left hand side. It was a set-piece tht proved decisive again as a free-kick from the right was arched over the defensive line and onto the head of Nicola Connor who thundered the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-1.
The game began to get heated amongst the Tranmere players following an altercation with one of the referee's assistants, this lead to the one and only caution of the game.
County's fourth goal came through Chaneece Reeves follwowing some good buildup play between Von Bargen and Wilson, before the latter played an excellent ball into the six yard area for Reeves to knock past the goalkeeper. The home side did get a second, a well worked free-kick which wrongfooted Blackett and found it's way into the far corner from distance.
Masa Butler replaced Von Bargen and came close herself from close range after a darting run down the left. One the whole, it was a game of two halves for County, after a cagey first period the side came out with more flair and positivity and truly put the game beyond Tranmere in the second half.
FT | Tranmere Rovers 2-4 Stockport County (Hayes 42, Mapp 45+1, Connor 60, Reeves 73)
TEAM | Blackett, Wilson, O'Reilly, Hancock, Connor, John, Von Bargen (Butler), Reeves, Mapp (Stokes), Douglas, Hayes (Webb).
UNUSED SUBS | Attfield, Porteous-Williams.
POTM | Chaneece Reeves
ATT | 42
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)
After away wins over Warrington, Bishop Auckland, Chesterfield and Chorley en route to their tie against Middlesbrough, the Hatters travelled to Billingham Town FC for their hotly-anticapted clash on Teeside.
County were without a number of first-team players, Katie Brusell, Jeneyah Webb and Jade White still out with injury. Chaneece Reeves and Shellby Wolstencroft were late withdrawals, both dropping out of the squad on matchday, while Emma Massey was also unavailable. This allowed for call-ups for Imogen Porteous-Williams and Yasmin Ahmed, with the former starting the game. The side were also two coaches short, with Dave Billington and Chris Cookson unable to travel for personal reasons, meaning Peter Attfield took goalkeeping coach duties pre-match.
A quick break from kickoff got the game underway, as Chloe Mapp started the game with a long ball over the the right flank, which was duly met Hanna Wilson in a good position. The early pressure from the visitors almost lead to a goal, with Abi Hayes striking over the bar from close range.
The home side then took control of the game, having the majority of the ball for the majority of the first period, while also coming close a few times themselves with a number of good chances. If not for some brilliance from Blackett in the County goal, the home side could have very much been ahead by the halfway mark.
HT | Middlesbrough 0-0 County
The second half seemed to be much of the same, however County began to make good runs in behind. Hayes was making life difficult for the 'Boro defence. The traditional 4-3-1-2 formation became, at times, a flatter 4-3-3 as the Hatters continued to try and break down the Reds.
County very nearly took the lead through Jodie Hancock as the home 'keeper fumbled a corner, which was well whipped in by O'Reilly. Both Hancock and Connor we stood by the far post however neither of them were able to direct the ball goalless.
Boro eventually broke the deadlock on the counter. A good ball through found the feet of the attacker, but Lauren Blackett was there to make the block. Blackett then lost control of the ball, resulting in a simple tap-in for Eleanor Dale, giving the home side the lead.
From then on, Boro continued to pile on the pressure, coming close a number of times before referee, Andy Himsworth, called an end to play and an end to County's FA Cup exploits this season.
FT | Middlesbrough (Dale 70') 1-0 County
Squad: Blackett, Wilson, O'Reilly, Hancock, Connor (C), John, Jones, Porteous-Williams (Replaced by Ahmed), Mapp, Douglas, Hayes
Unused Sub(s): Attfield
POTM: Sophie John
For a full gallery of images, click here.
For the manager's interview, click below.
A week away from action for the first team allowed for some rest for a team that haven't had the easiest starts to the season but have racked up 10 consecutive wins in all competitions.
A plague of injuries has swept the team, with Jade White still out following her injury against Bishop Auckland in October, as well as Katie Brusell and Jeneyah Webb, out with shoulder and ankle injuries respectively. Kath Jones was also out this week. This meant that Ronnie Green had to make a number of changes, calling up three development players for the game, Holly Stokes, Niamh Nolan (who had played previously for the first team on a regular basis before a nasty injury) and Yasmin Ahmed.
A uncharacteristically slow start for the Hatters lead to some early pressure from the visitors, who were unable to hit the target despite numerous attempts. The early breaks for County were predominantly down the left, with Hanifa Douglas and Claire O'Reilly having good time on the left to make runs in behind.
Abi Hayes was the first County player to get a shot away, getting through one-on-one with the goalkeeper before blasting the ball just over the bar after losing balance taking the shot. Eventually it was Chloe Mapp who broke through, from a great ball by Niamh Nolan, after some quality build-up play in the midfield from Chaneece Reeves, Nolan, Sophie John and Hanifa Douglas. Mapp getting the first with a well-placed finish into the far post to make it 1-0.
An injury to one of the visiting players, following a free kick just outside the box for County, allowed for a break in play as the physio treated the injured Merseyrail player.
HT | County 1-0 Merseyrail. (Mapp)
A much faster paced start to the second period for County allowed for some excellent chances, most natably one for Nicola Connor which was unfortunately hit well over the bar from close range. Abi Hayes continued to cause issues for the Merseyrail defense as she used her pace and strength to break through the back line.
The midfield was where the game was mostly being played during the second period, as Nolan, Reeves and John all made good efforts to keep the visitors at bay. Green made two substitutions, with Nolan and Hayes being replaced by Ahmed and Stokes respectively.
County were then seemingly delivered a blow almost seconds after the final substitution was made, as Chloe Mapp went down with what looked to be an ankle problem. The Hatters were forced to play the dying minutes with ten players. The visitors piled on the pressure late on, with the home side only having one player past the halfway line for large chunks of the last 15 minutes.
Mapp returned to the field of play and allowed for Stokes to push further forward. A good ball over the top lead to a miscommunication between the goalkeeper and one of the centre backs, as Stokes lobbed the onrushing goalkeeper before outmuscling the last defender and tapping home from close range to make it 2-0 on her debut.
FT | County 2-0 Merseyrail. (Mapp, Stokes)
Squad: Blackett, Wilson, O'Reilly, Hancock, Connor, John, Nolan, Reeves, Mapp, Douglas, Hayes.
Subs: Ahmed, Stokes.
POTM: Abi Hayes.
Our media team has been becoming more developed over the past few weeks following the sides' success in both the league and the cup, with new videos, photos and match reports going up weekly. The introduction of new graphics has begun, with a number of contributors offering their services for the good of the club.
SCFC19 is the club's new set of designs, based on the work of a London-based firm, made internally by the media department for our club's Blues, Development and Under 18s team.
Blogger, The Non League Nomad, has come onboard with some goal graphics for our first team, under the umbrella of his graphic design page, SXI Designs, who provide free graphics for non-league clubs up and down the country.
We have also had Chloe Lizzie Designs come onboard to produce first team match graphics for the rest of the season.
Thank you to both designers who have offered their services free of charge, we would definitely recommend.
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
Following the side's successful trip to Yorkshire yesterday afternoon, the SSE Womens FA Cup Second Round draw was made by the Football Association this afternoon.
The Hatters have been drawn away to Middlesborough in the next round, which is due to take place on Sunday 2nd December.
The hosts currently sit third in the National League Northern Premier, their last result being a 2-2 draw with Fylde on Sunday.
More details will be announced in due course.