Two great saves from Elina Parker in a penalty shootout saw Altrincham FC Ladies emerge victorious against Workington Reds after coming from behind in regular time. Megan Rowley and Laura Kelly scored Alty’s goals before winning the Argyle Sports Kit North West Regional Cup tie on spot kicks.
Altrincham got off to a flying start to the match when Imogen Paul’s high pressure won the ball back right outside Workington’s penalty area. She coolly played it to Megan Rowley who calmly placed it into the bottom corner past the goalkeeper to give Altrincham the lead inside the opening five minutes.
On 11 minutes, Laura Dodds rounded a defender on the left wing and cut inside towards goal as Alty were rampant. From a tight angle, she got a shot away but the goalkeeper reacted well to stick her leg out to deflect it out for a corner.
A minute later it was Altrincham who lost the possession in their own half, and Workington countered well. The ball was played behind the defence, and goalkeeper Elina Parker came out and tried to intercept the pass. The Workington striker, however, was too fast and got to the ball first and her great chipped finish over Parker into the net made it one apiece.
The turnaround was complete on 17 minutes for Workington when Parker’s hand touched a back-pass from a team-mate, and Workington were awarded an indirect free kick. The free kick was beautifully placed in the bottom corner and the home side went ahead as Alty were stunned.
The Robins struggled to get back into the game and did not manage to impose their style on the game but after some tactical changes around the half-an-hour-mark, they started to see more of the ball and look more solid in the midfield.
In the lead up to the break, they did manage to create a couple chances. One of which came from Leigh McFadyen when she received the ball from Paul but her finish from a tight angle was well saved by the goalkeeper.
Dodds also had a good chance when the ball landed at her feet inside the penalty area but her finish, under a lot of pressure from Workington defenders, flew over the crossbar.
A minute before half-time, Altrincham had a glorious chance to equalise. It came from a corner where the ball eventually landed with Nadine Sproule. Her shot went past the goalkeeper, but a Workington player did really well on the line, when she barely managed to get her foot down in time to stop the ball with the underside of her foot before clearing away the danger. With that, Altrincham went into half-time behind.
In the second half, Altrincham stepped up their performance creating plenty of excellent chances. However, they struggled to make their chances count on the scoreboard. With Altrincham attacking more, this also left some space for the Workington players to try and capitalise on.
It was the hosts that fashioned the first chance of the second half as a Workington player went clean through with Parker, but the Altrincham goalie tackled the striker and cleared the danger. The second ball fell to a Workington player, but Altrincham’s defence put great pressure on her to deny her a good opportunity, and her long range shot went wide.
Pressure switched to the other end and an in-form Workington goalkeeper denied Altrincham time and time again throughout the game. Dodds tried a shot from 20 yards, but the goalie pushed the ball to corner. It was the same outcome when Laura Kelly was played through with the goalkeeper and when Shannon Billington found Jade Hesketh with a good ball in the box.
However, on 73 minutes, she could do nothing with a great finish from Kelly. Billington found Kelly with a good ball, and a great first touch from the striker put her free from her defender and gave her enough time to place the ball into the near corner to level the score for Altrincham.
Both teams tried to get a winner before the match went to the dreaded penalty shootout, but neither succeeded, and the players, managers and fans alike readied themselves for a nail biter.
Workington got off to a brilliant start when Dodds first penalty hit the crossbar and Hesketh’s was saved whilst Workington scored both their penalties.
Then Kelly stepped up for Altrincham and converted her penalty expertly as hope grew with the visitors as Workington’s player fired over the crossbar.
Billington then delivered a penalty into the top corner while Workington scored again making it 3-2.
Debbie Price stepped up for the fifth penalty, aware that a miss would send Workington through to the next round. She delivered for Altrincham though, with a high, hard and unstoppable penalty. And then, when Altrincham needed her to do it the most, Parker saved Workington’s fifth penalty, and sent it on to sudden death.
Paul scored the next penalty for Altrincham, placing it hard in the left corner while Workington replied with one of their own
It was then time for Altrincham’s skipper, Bliss Molyneaux, to take the trip from the halfway line to the spot and she calmly converted her brilliant penalty in the bottom left corner
The Workington goalkeeper then stepped up to take the next spot kick and this time Parker became the Altrincham hero as she saved her second penalty to send Altrincham through to the next round in the cup, after a thriller of a cup tie in Workington.
In the next round Altrincham face another away trip, this time to Merseyside, where they will face Premier League opposition Merseyrail Ladies FC with the tie being played on February 10th.