After a very good away win (1-2) on Tuesday night at Norton, the Chester le Street Town Ladies were all ready to take on Hartlepool United Ladies in the quarter final of Durham FA’s Ladies County Cup. A competition Chester have won 3 times and were runners up last season to Norton, in the last 4 seasons.
Hartlepool United Ladies play in the North East Regional Women’s Football League (NERWFL) Premier Division and are currently 3rd in that league. The league is just 1 level below Chester so it was expected Hartlepool would put up a very good fight in trying to get through to the semi-finals.
The Cestrians were in a very relaxed mood as they turned up at Moor park, although it was soon apparent goalkeeper Robyn Parker would not be playing starting (although she did make an appearance near the end of the game) and Rachel Mellor would once again be in the number 1 shirt. New signing Kira Whittle was making her full home debut wearing the number 10 shirt.
Within the first 5 minutes Hartlepool showed they be no push overs and were up for the game. Chester tried to press Hartlepool’s defence a couple of times but they came to nothing.
On 12 minutes the Cestrians continued to press forward, Sarah Burn took a throw on the right side to Anna Collin, who looked to put a cross into the box, but Hartlepool’s defence were with her all the way and the ball went out for a goal kick.
Shortly after Hartlepool attacked the Chester goal but Rachel Mellor dealt with the high ball and was able to clear it.
Jade Clark was assigned to take a free kick about 25 yards out from the Hartlepool goal, unfortunately her effort sailed over the cross bar.
On 25 minutes Kira Whittle put a long throw in into the penalty area but it was thwarted by Hartlepool’s defence. Chester thought they had a good shout for a penalty on 30 minutes, when Jessica Ellison looked to have been fouled inside the 18 yard box, but the referee waved it away.
As the first half progressed Hartlepool were forced to clear their lines quickly to keep Chester away from their 18 yard box and giving themselves a chance to re-group.
The first half was mostly a midfield battle as both teams struggled to put on a decent attack; until the 41st minute. A fantastic pass in behind the Hartlepool back 4, Kacie Elson raced through to beat the offside trap and smashed and early first time shot from 20 yards, which flew into the top right corner of the goal – 1 nil Chester.
Happy to go into half time 1 nil up, but everyone was hoping to see an improved performance in the second half.
Straight from the whistle in the second half Chester looked to be a completely different team; much better passing and build up play.
On 54 minutes Sarah Burn’s went in for a 50/50 challenge but took a heavy knock. After a couple of minutes treatment and recovery on the side line, she was quickly back on the pitch.
65 minutes and some more good link up play between Katie Ellison and Kacie Elson but again dealt with by Hartlepool.
Lizzy Thompson-Clarke came off the bench and was soon in the thick of things, (having suffered from a hamstring injury in the last few games), she seemed to be running a lot easier. On 76 minutes she broke past one of Hartlepool’s defenders and as the keeper came off her line, Lizzy took her chance and put the ball in the top left corner – 2 nil. A very composed finish. There was a sense of relief around the ground, but the players knew the game wasn’t over.
Not long after and Lizzy was running at goal again, she took a knock on the back of her foot just inside the 18 yard box, as she went past the defender. She quickly turned her back to the keeper and set the ball back to Kacie Elson, who finished first time with another good goal, this one with her left foot.
Final score 3-0, there would be no scalps today.
Carl Chater (coach) had the following to say on both the game and the new recent signings for the team.
“We started slowly and made life difficult for ourselves in the first half but completely dominated the second half. We needed to be better in possession getting the ball forward with quality so we could exploit the space with our pace. We did this a number of times in the second half scoring 2 and maybe should have scored more. We’re happy with how the last 2 games have gone and how the new additions have started. We now have competition for places all over the pitch which can only be a good thing. This will hopefully now push us on for the rest of the season.”
I also asked Anna Collin (captain) a few questions after the game.
What did you make of today’s overall team play?
AC; “It wasn’t one of our better performances this season but thankfully we’ve come away with the win. We took a while to get going and never really passed the ball to the standard that we are capable of.”
What can you take away from the game to improve on as a team?
AC; “It was a scrappy game today on a bobbly pitch which made it difficult to play good football. Some of our decision making is poor so lots to work on in training.”
There have been some new players coming into the team how do you think they have done so far?
AC; “We have lots of new players for both teams which is great to see. They’ve all fit into the squad really well. I thought Jade Clark was great against Norton and Shannon Etherington played really well today.”