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Cheshire Ladies 2-4 Manchester Women's - MATCH REPORT

by Nathan Linley

Manchester Women’s secured a hard-fought three points at the Northgate Arena in Chester with a 4-2 victory over Cheshire Ladies.

A brace from Rebecca Kemp, and goals from Leah Hartshorne and Beth Tattersall meant that the points came back to Manchester.

Goals for the home team from Kirstie Kural and Jodie Davies saw them contribute to their goal tally on the day but it wasn’t enough for the Whites to overhaul the Blues.

The victory ensures that Manchester move level on points with their opposition, three points behind Fylde Coast in the Women’s North table.

The Blues got off to a great start after a short corner was played to Rebecca Kemp and her shot flew into the top corner past Cheshire’s Tina Reed to give Manchester the early advantage.

It was soon 2-0 to the visitors. Leah Hartshorne capitalised on a defensive error to run through and score, while Manchester continued to influence the game in the early stages.

Cheshire had their chances after both sides used their timeouts, and eventually got their goal after Jodie Davies shot was initially saved by Manchester’s Becky Wilkins, but looped in to give the home side the edge.

The game was on a knife edge, counter attack after counter attack followed and it looked like both sides could have scored five or six before the interval. Both Cheshire and Manchester showing why they are battling at the top of the Women’s North standings.

The Blues could have, and should have, made it three. Great vision from Leanne Skarratt found Katy Morris running on the right with an eye-of-a-needle style pass, one on one with the keeper her shot ended up over the bar.

The second half started more or less how the first half ended, in what was a true advert for Women’s Futsal. End to end action with both sides putting everything on the line.

Manchester linked up superbly with some intricate one touch passing from Beth Tattersall and Leah Hartshorne sent Rebecca Kemp through once more but couldn’t find the target in what was a huge chance for the away side.

Cheshire would have been level moments later had it not been for a stunning save by Manchester’s Alice Harkness, the shot stopper stretched high to her left to keep out Kirstie Kural’s effort which was looked destined for the back of the net.

With ten minutes to go, the Northgate Arena was tense all round as both benches were extremely animated with frantic instructions from both sets of coaches, a moment of brilliance looked to be the only way that the score was to change.

That moment came for Cheshire with seven minutes to go as Kirstie Kural skipped past four challenges to score. The visitors will have considered themselves unlucky after having the momentum for long spells in the game.

As if the game couldn’t have anymore drama, it came just two minutes later. Rebecca Kemp took possession from ten metres out and finished low and hard past Steph Taylor. Manchester had the lead again in what would be an intense final five minutes.

The pressure creeped up on the visitors as they appeared to try and cling onto the lead. Alice Harkness with another save for the scrap book as she reached low to her left to stop Kural once more.

But it was Manchester who took advantage of forced errors as Rebecca Kemp scored with just five minutes left after picking up the loose ball just eight metres out. The momentum was turning to Manchester’s way once more.

Cheshire then switched to fly keeper in a desperate attempt to level the scores. However, a mistake in midcourt saw Beth Tattersall pick up possession and roll into an empty net. The Manchester bench erupted with screams however Head Coach Sergi Saldana maintained his calls for calm as time was almost up.

The hosts would continue to knock on the door but to no avail, and Manchester held on for their second win of the season.