Author: Melissa Collier - Sun 5 Dec 21
In a game packed with entertaining attacking football from each side, it was Altrincham Hale who came out victorious at Bower Fold.
From the whistle, Celtic immediately set the tone and threatened Altrincham with a first minute lead. Striker Christine Moss picked up the ball from just outside of the area. Evading Hales line of defence, her effort was unfortunately shot wide. Following some excellent control in midfield from Tara Crossley, the ball found its way back to Moss whose shot was blocked by the keeper.
The home sides eagerness to take the lead was rewarded just minutes later. A strong run on the right wing from Melanie Southern reclaimed possession for Celtic in the box. Southern unselfishly passed to Lauren Handley who tapped the ball past the Altrincham keeper and into the net; scoring her first goal for the club and giving Stalybridge a deserved lead.
Hale responded almost immediately with an impactful charge towards the Celtic end. A low driven corner inside of the Celtic box was picked up by Ashley Pearson whose shot was carried with a stroke of luck. Turning with the ball, her shot dipped dramatically over the heads of each player in the box and fell directly into the net from a height, equalising for Altrincham and gifting them with a bizarre goal. The away side took the lead 2 minutes later, a low-driven shot from Jasmine Breeze on the right wing flew across the face of goal, salvaged by Roxanne Parry-Briggs. She made no mistake in firing the ball into the net, bringing the score to 2-1.
The goal-fest continued in just the 15th minute with Southern being rewarded for her patience towards goal. Her shot from the right hit the top left corner with force; levelling the score between the sides.
An agonisingly close goal followed for Celtic, Helen Smith tried her luck from outside of the box in the face of limited space and 2 opposing defenders in the hope of restoring the lead. Her long-shot clipped the post and bounced mischievously across the line before it was collected by the keeper. Moments later Smith continued with her energetic drive towards goal, making a darting run down the left wing before crossing into the box. The ball connected with Southern on the right wing; passing to Katie B who was unable to shoot towards goal.
A succession of attacks from Stalybridge followed, showcasing some excellent defending from the away side. Moss attempted to capitalise on the edge of the box, however her shot was saved by the keeper. A Celtic corner just minutes later lead to some deep defending from Hale before the danger was cleared.
Celtic keeper Emma Burns made an incredible one-on-one save to deny Altrincham the lead, racing towards Pearson who had found space and used pace to her advantage. Burns raced off her line and threw herself towards the ball, keeping the score level.
Hale continued with their push and were rewarded in the 37th minute, Natalie Johns made a solo run down the right wing, passing to Parry-Briggs who lurked within the area. She shot into the right side of the net, regaining the lead and scoring her brace. Hale piled a further challenge onto Celtic just before half-time; Emily Davidson gained possession by the half-way line, floating the ball towards Jasmine Breeze. Her low-driven shot was powerful and fell into the bottom corner, bringing the score to 4-2 at half-time.
After the break, Hale displayed further momentum to increase their lead. Celtic showed real defensive grit from a Hale corner, the ball was floated inside of the box and was blocked on the line by Tara Crossley. Burns and Katie Nix provided a further obstacle in what was a great team effort before the ball was sent over the crossbar by Laura Renshaw. The away side came back immediately, Lauren Handley blocked a further effort from Renshaw and was cleared by Crossley. Johns regained possession on the right wing, sending the ball into the box. Renshaw had yet another go, once again sending the ball over the crossbar.
Renshaw rewarded Hale for their persistence in front of goal with a fantastic goal, sending a long-range shot from outside of the area into the centre of the net, adding to their lead and making it 5-2.
Stalybridge retaliated and provided yet another chapter in the 65th minute. Amy Booth floated the ball at the half-way line towards Smith, who made a darting run up field. Controlling the ball with her knee, she let the ball bounce and volleyed it into the bottom corner, making for an excellent finish and bringing the score to 5-3.
Smithâ€™s eagerness for a Celtic comeback was made dangerously clear to Hale with another effort towards goal. Her shot from inside of the area forced the opposing keeper to make a great save. Just minutes later, she made yet another attempt to hit back, using her pace to create space towards goal and dipping the keeper in the process. However, the shot was denied and the ball was tipped over the bar.
Despite this attacking burst from Stalybridge, Hale scored an impressive late goal to prevent any comeback. Olivia Hockin for Hale found space on the right wing, crossing the ball to Renshaw who fired towards goal for her brace. Burns came close but was unlucky not to make the save.
Celtic did not give up their fight and continued to stay persistent towards goal. A corner for the home side found Katie B who had positioned herself well, however her shot fell wide.