MATCH REPORT | West Women 3-5 Stockport County
West Women returned to Brookburn Road for their first home pre-season fixture as they lost out in a thrilling encounter against NWWRFL Premier Division Runners-Up Stockport County.
The visitors began on the front foot and they looked to assert their divisional superiority early on as stand in goalkeeper Nat Callaghan was called into action to deny Stockport with three excellent saves. West soon found a foothold of their own in the game and twice went close as Sophie Bracegirdle found herself in front of goal but each time failed to make a clean contact with the ball. The first half remained an even contest but it was Stockport who took the lead six minutes from time as they cleared a West corner, countering quickly allowing the County 15 to slot home under Callaghan despite protestations for offside being waived away by the referee.
West regrouped at half time introducing Hanifa Douglas and immediately the West striker brought the home side level as she latched onto an inch perfect through ball, rounded the keeper and slotted into the empty goal from 20 yards out. Two minutes later West were ahead as a short goal kick found the feet of Elizabeth Livesey and the West forward powered it back beyond the helpless goalkeeper.
The lead would last five minutes as a through-ball evaded the stretching tackle of Ellie Caddick leaving the Stockport striker one-on-one who finished despite Claire Jefferson getting a hand to it. West would retake the lead almost instandly, with the best move of the game as the Chloe Spencer and Shauna Edmondson combined on the right to find Amy Vyas at the edge of the area. The West midfielder skipped past her marker switching the ball from her left foot to right foot before firing in off the foot of the post.
West had further chances to extend their lead, the best falling to Shauna Edmondson who fired over from the edge of the area. As often happens with pre-season both sides made significant changings affecting the flow of the game. West were caught out on 77 minutes from a throw-in as the 16 was left unmarked to power home an unstoppable effort.
A minute later the visitors showed their clinical side as a free kick dropped into the West penalty before the low angled shot rolled into the bottom corner. Stockport made the game safe seven minutes from time as they again struck on the counter attack. Nat Callaghan almost pulled one back at the death as she fired home but was brought back for a free kick to West before the advantage could be applied.
Despite the score-line it was a strong performance from West who more than matched their strong opponents for long spells of the game.