Fresh off the back of the delights of the men's team's win yesterday in the FA Cup against Yeovil, the Ladies travelled to Barnoldswick for their FA Cup First Round tie against Chorley. The game was moved to Barnoldswick in Yorkshire, a entire marathon away as the crow flies from Chorley's home, Victory Park, due to an Emirates FA Cup clash between Chorley and Doncaster Rovers that very same afternoon.
The extra distance played havoc with both sides' preparations as an incident on a nearby A Road meant a significant delay for the arrival of some County players, moving kick-off back 25 minutes.
Manager, Ronnie Green, made a couple of tactical changes with the side's shape, opting for a flat 4-5-1 instead of the usual 4-3-1-2. Emma Massey came in in place of Hayes, starting out on the left of the midfield, with Kath Jones filling the same spot on the right. Chloe Mapp started up top alone.
The Rememberance Sunday minute's silence was impeccably observed by all in attendance.
A slow start to the game for both sides, County attacking towards the "Sewer End", named after the United Utilites Facility behind the stand, during the first period. The majority of possession fell down the Hatters' left-hand side early on, with Massey and Reeves linking up nicely.
It became apparent from very early into the game that top scorer Chloe Mapp was isolated up top as County seemed to be missing the attacking support of Jeneyah Webb and Katie Brusell, who were both missing from the squad. That said, Emma Massey, Hanifa Douglas and Kath Jones all did well in the opening 30 minutes to try and get in behind the strong Chorley back-line.
One player on top form for Chorley was their goalkeeper, who made a string of quality saves during both halves.
A lacklustre half of football was eventually brought to a halt with scores level, the Hatters had the majority of the possession in the first period, but were unable to make it count.
The home side came out of the blocks at pace following the restart, attacking down both flanks with pace and eventually breaking through with a good run down the right, the cross was headed home well from close range to give the Magpies the lead.
Chorley nearly doubled their lead with another good run, down the left this time, but the ball was held well by Blackett in the County goal.
With the Hatters on the back foot for the majority of the half, Green made a substitution, with Abigail Hayes replacing Emma Massey. This change lead to a change of formation too, reverting to their usual 4-3-1-2 as Hayes went up top to provide support to Chloe Mapp.
This change brought about an immediate difference in tempo, with Hayes making a number of incisive runs at the Chorley defence, freeing up space for her team-mates. A good cross from the left was headed goalwards by Mapp, but an outstanding last ditch save from the Chorley 'keeper kept the lead intact.
County eventually got what they deserved with a great looping ball from Sophie John, which was met by Chloe Mapp and slotted into the bottom corner to make it 1-1 with just minutes remaining. This goal serving as a potential lifeline to take something from the game against opposition from a higher division.
The girls in blue continued to pile on the pressure, forcing the home side into errors. A good run from Mapp took her past two defenders and the goalkeeper, before being upended by the 'keeper who received a yellow for the infringement of the rules.
The pressure continued to mount, with Hanifa Douglas being fouled at the edge of the area. There was just seconds on the clock and both sides were preparing for an extra 30 minutes of extra time. Claire O'Reilly and Chloe Mapp stood over the ball, deciding between them that O'Reilly was to take the free-kick.
O'Reilly stepped up and drilled a shot towards the far post, the effort was deflected and went straight into the back of the net with what became the very last kick of the game. Every single person in the stadium ran to O'Reilly as the Hatters rejoiced in their victory, the home side appearing dejected as they seemingly threw away a game they had in the bag.
FT | Chorley FC Women 1-2 Stockport County LFC (Mapp, O'Reilly)
POTM: Sophie John
A full gallery of the game is available here.