Women reach their second final after superb 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic.
United’s Women brightened up a drizzly Sunday afternoon at Broadhurst Park winning through to the Argyle Sports (league cup) final at the expense of Wigan Athletic with a late late winner from Chloe Wild in front of the second largest home crowd of the season.
Wigan, sitting second, in the league above FC, took the lead inside 10 minutes with a drilled finish from Megan Hornby with Fran Davies scoring FCs equaliser and 100th goal of this campaign on 25 minutes and the scores remained level at half time. The second half was evenly matched also and as the stalemate looked certain to protract into extra time, Wild blasted the winner with only minutes remaining.
From the off United pressed down both flanks resulting in a shot over the bar from Beth Tattersall within two minutes. Jade Parker broke down the left earning the first of United’s 11 corners with Parker testing Jess Linford who held well in the Wigan goal. In a breathless opening spell, Kirsty Chambers earned a second corner and the illustrious Wild clipped the ball to the back post where Abbie Carrington almost stole in to shoot, denied at the last moment by a covering defender.
Wigan countered to devastating effect breaking down the right and taking the ball to the bye-line for a superb cutback that drew everyone to the near post leaving Megan Hornby, arriving late and unmarked to fire low back across the dive of Chloe Williams to open the scoring on 6 minutes.
Possession was evenly matched as Wigan looked to consolidate thwarting United’s ambitions and looking to counter where possible. The visitors almost capitalised on a breakdown in communication at the back but Carrington cleared well in the nick of time. A minute later Carrington released Chambers down the left and the Captain fired across Linford but just wide of the far post. Wigan thrust straight up field with Aimee O’Keefe and Megan Howard combining well for Howard to fire over Williams’ bar.
At the midpoint of the half Chambers swung a cross beyond the far post where Parker half volleyed over the bar and as United continued to press Parker, Wild and Jess Battle forced Wigan to concede another corner. Parker clipped her corner towards the near post with the ball breaking to Fran Davies who guided her shot above the melee and into the top corner to restore parity to the delight of the centre half, her team mates and the majority FC crowd.
United, now in the ascendancy, earned another corner after Mia Holden picked out Parker with a superb pass with the striker’s shot being deflected behind. From the set piece Davies challenged again but this time her effort cleared the bar. Both teams looked to press for a half time advantage and as the half entered its latter stages Wigan caused chaos in the United area and a combination of Wild and Chambers carried the ball clear of danger with Wild swinging a superb cross field ball into the path of Tattersall who had broke behind the defence and forced another good save out of Linford.
Both sides won a corner each in the opening minute of the second half with Wigan’s requiring a combination of Carrington and Jess McCarrick to clear. Five minutes after the restart a slide rule pass from Carrington released Chambers but Linford was quickly out to smother the danger.
Wigan largely dominated the next 20 minute spell with United being pushed back but holding firm forcing the visitors to shoot from range with Alexandra Coleman’s strike, destined for the top corner, being held well under her bar by Williams. From a Wigan corner, United broke away with substitute, Shellby Wolstencroft releasing Battle who couldn’t quite shake off the last defender, Abigail Conway, who mopped up well. Eleanor Threlkeld struck from range for the Latics but again Chloe Williams was equal to the effort and the balance began to shift back United’s way just past the midpoint of the half.
United broke down the left with Chambers, Carrington and Parker combining well resulting in Linford saving well from a Chambers effort. With quarter of an hour remaining a free kick into the Wigan area was cleverly flicked on by Wolstencroft into the path of Battle whose shot brought another fine save from Linford. Down the right this time Wild and Parker combined well with the latter earning a free kick on the right edge of the area. Chambers swept the ball goalwards forcing a fine finger tip save from Linford.
Parker forced the Wigan keeper into another save as United looked for the elusive winner but with just 4 minutes remaining the game almost swung decisively in Wigan’s favour. Substitute Naomi Greene found Howard unmarked at the back post and the Number 7 smashed her effort into the side netting with the goal at her mercy.
United countered immediately and a cross from Parker was headed across goal by Battle with the striker being denied by a superb flying save from Linford. The game, looking destined for extra time, entered its final minute and Chambers incisive run was halted illegally 20 yards from goal on the left.
Parker clipped her free kick towards the head of substitute Amy Vyas and the midfielder rose highest to flick the ball beyond the back post where Wild, from a tight angle returned it with interest over the despairing leap of the superb Linford and into the roof of the net sparking euphoric celebrations, in relative terms, much like those witnessed following Nathan Lowe’s late late winner for the men over Tamworth the day before.
United held firm to see the game out ending a great weekend for FC’s two first teams and the Women can now look forward to their second final of the season when they will play Bury FC Ladies who defeated Manchester Stingers 6-3 in their semi final.
As it stands there is no game next Sunday and the Women are away to league leaders Merseyrail Bootle on 26th March as they continue their pursuit of honours on three fronts. Get behind the team when and where you can as the season looks set for a thrilling climax. Your support is always much appreciated. Thank you.
Report by Rob Fullen
FC Player of the game: Chloe Wild – the speedy winger-cum-forward covered all over the pitch all afternoon, playing an effective role supporting her defence as well as providing the penetration up front resulting in a stunning last minute winner.
Teams 12th March 2017: Attendance: 131
FC United of Manchester Women: 2 (1)
1. Chloe Williams
20. Morgan McWhirter
2. Fran Davies (Goal 25 mins)
3. Abbie Carrington
6. Mia Holden
15. Jade Parker
17. Jess McCarrick
18. Chloe Wild (Goal 89 mins)
10. Beth Tattersall
11. Kirsty Chambers (Capt)
14. Jess Battle
4. Olivia Greenhalgh
5. Chelsea Patient (for No20 72 mins)
9. Shellby Wolstencroft (for No10 62 mins)
12. Amy Vyas (for No6 79 mins)
13. Olivia Gannon
Wigan Athletic Ladies: 1 (1)
1. Jess Linford
2. Rachel Ainscow
3. Eleanor Threlkeld
4. Emma Valentine (Capt)
5. Michelle Hunt
6. Alexandra Coleman
7. Megan Howard
8. Ashley Taylor
9. Aimee O’Keefe
10. Grace Vella
11. Megan Hornby (Goal 6 mins)
12. Naomi Greene (for No16 85 mins)
GK. Donna Harris
14. Abigail Conway (for No6 61 mins)
15. Megan Edwards
16. Emma Lysons (for No9 61 mins)
Referee: Steve Darlow
Asst Referee: Dan Woodhead (Yellow flag)
Asst Referee: Barry Potter (Orange & Yellow Flag)
Venue: Broadhurst Park 3G, Lightbowne Road, Moston, M40