Report and Pictures by Brian Flynn
Altrincham FC Women bowed out of The Women’s FA Cup at the 1st Round Qualifying stage at The UCLAN Sports Arena on Sunday, as three second half goals turned things around for Preston North End Women, who had been outplayed by The Robins up until the interval.
Grace Lewis fired Alty ahead just after the quarter hour mark with a smart strike from 15 yards and both sides went close to further first half goals, North End hitting the bar and post and Alty hitting the bar twice and the post, potentially a game changing moment as the most impressive piece of individual skill in this cup encounter ended with Grace Lewis being denied by the upright.
There was a blow for Alty midway through the first half when Mary Nutter, playing in the number 10 role, suffered a potentially serious knee injury and had to be carried from the pitch and taken to hospital. There is no break, but Mary is awaiting a knee specialist consultation to assess the seriousness of the damage, everyone wishes Mary all the very best for a positive outcome.
Just a few minutes into the second period, Lauren Diskin pulled off a magnificent save to tip a shot from the edge of the area, that was arrowing into the top corner, over the arc of the crossbar and upright.
Respite was very short-lived, however, as a well delivered corner was met by a firm Caitlin Wolfenden header, and the Lancashire side were level at 1-1.
Another key moment occurred around the hour mark, as Jess Beddows, who had impressed as Nutter’s replacement, was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes for dissent, having been penalised for a foul and a game that was still very much in the balance, turned in favour of the Lilywhites, who capitalised on the momentum gained by the equaliser, and having a player advantage, to score two goals in 2 minutes.
It was 2-1 in the 71st minute, when a left-wing corner was headed in by Sam Ball, unmarked towards the far post and the goalscoring was completed when a left wing cross sailed over two Alty defenders, dropping nicely for Madison Hadley, who was a thorn in Alty’s side throughout the second half, to convert from six yards.
Preston ultimately deserved to earn a trip to Crewe Alexandra in the next round, but whilst there was ultimate dejection for Alty’s women, there was plenty to feel proud about in the first half performance and midfielder, Naomi Conteh was named as the Robins player of the match.
A measure of Graeme Pilkington’s team’s display was that North End keeper, Justine Elliott, was awarded Preston’s player of the match.
Altrincham FC Women (4-2-3-1)
Lauren Diskin (GK)
Annie Rose O’Donoghue
Faye Winstanley (Grace Lewis)
Jess Beddows (Mary Nutter)
Katie Robins (Annie Rose O’Donoghue)