County Under 18 Ladies 4 Macclesfield 1

`Championies......Championies.................’ you know the refrain......the one that football supporters the length of the country and around the globe, long to one day have reason to launch into! Well ......Pitch 10 at Woodley...circa 15.45 today rang loud to that excellent if forgivably repetitive ditty, as Stockport County`s Under 18 Ladies team, who not a few weeks ago won the League Cup, added the League Title with a fine 4-1 win over Macclesfield.   
They just needed a point but goals from Megan Rowe and Georgia Vernardakis, before the break, and Sarah Mitchell and Vernardakis again after made it a handsome maximum pointer, with Lorraine Bailey replying for Macclesfield.
It was a decent game, and if Stockport via Demi Noon, Hannah Mitchell, and the live wire Georgia Vernadakis , generally had more fire power than their Cheshire neighbours......... in Katie Franks, Louisa Wade, Macc posed a threat themselves a time or two, and in Tia Barker had a defensive linchpin to be proud of , and a heroic keeper as well in Zena Walmsley, who had a fine game.
Macc warm up pre match.

County surged forward from the whistle and Hannah Mitchell was unlucky to see a snap shot climb inches over the bar. Then Macclesfield replied through Hannah Davies, after excellent work from Katie Franks, but her volley went wide. If County had attacking thoughts at this early stage, they had to be put on hold as Macc came back at them again as Melanie Forster went close. I was not expecting to see this at all, and it threatened to get more irksome  as County got themselves in a bit of a tangle at the back, and a goal looked distinctly on for the visitors, but Charlotte Mathers was just unable to force the ball home as it bounced this way and that on the line.

Hannah Mitchell  in the thick of it....

Phew.....that was too close for comfort, but when the going gets tough....etc .....etc......and for a couple of minutes it had been, but County replied like champions as an awesome effort from outside the box by Megan Rowe sailed over keeper Walmsley`s head into the net. Less than 5 minutes had gone and County were one up!  
Macclesfield tried to reply via Franks, who already was looking a real handful, but Georgina Corser was up to the challenge, and with help from Jess McNair the threat was contained, enabling County to hit their opponents on the break ......twice.....but both times they were thwarted.....first by Walmsley who made light of Charlotte Hislop`s challenge from Mitchell`s cross, and then by Molly Jones who produced some good defensive work to stop Rowe from adding a second.

Wade breaks up County raid.

A free kick then briefly put County under pressure, but after Nyemh Johnson had seen that off, the blues went looking for that second goal, and one seemed about to happen as Jess McNair darted through the middle at speed. It was a chance....and Jessica`s shot was a good one, but Zena Walmsley brought frowns to the brows of the home contingent with a diving save that saw the ball pushed around the post.
County were now pushing forward with regularity, and Megan Rowe might have thought she had another chance to make it 2-0, until the hard working Louisa Wade got a blocking tackle in and brought the move to a rapid conclusion. It went on with Walmsley breaking Stockport hearts again by tipping a shot from Rowe around the post.

Zena Walmsley- in prime form!
There had been a fare bit of attacking from the blues thus far...Macc were not cowed however and only excellent work from Charlotte Hislop stopped a neat pass from Jess Shepherd reaching Melanie Forster in a decent position. Johnson had to be on her toes as well a time or two, but she coped well and never really looked in trouble, Faye Smith and Lydia Henshall at centre back offered solidity and grit, Henshall doing particularly well to stop Lauren Bailey on the charge at one point.
Past the 20 minute mark we went with County back on the attack thanks to Mitchell and McNair who carried on some more good work by Henshall, to carve a cavernous hole in the left side of the Macc defence. The final ball saw McNair in and onto the ball, but Walsmsley chose this moment to produce another important save, snatching the ball off McNair`s toes bravely. Unfortunately the County forward then fell awkwardly and sustained an injury that forced her from the game, which was a blow.
Jessica McNair receiving treatment.

It became somewhat processional after this with County piling forward as shots from Sally Stringer and Hannah Mitchell went narrowly wide. Onto a cross by Mitchell....Shauna Miller, who had replaced McNair, then looked about to put County back on track, but again Walmsley denied County with a brave bit of work! On it went with Miller teeing Rowe up for another near miss one moment, and then unlucky to see a shot drift just wide the next.
Walmsley ...busy but holding firm.

County were certainly trying to double their advantage, it was just that their opponents were unobligingly difficult to dispose of, none more so than Walmsley who made another crucial save to stop Demi Noon as she charged clear through the middle!
Louisa Wade was emerging as a force for Macc....stopping Shauna Miller with a neat tackle, and then pushing County back with a free kick that saw her inches from getting the equaliser.

First half action.

Sure......County were doing the lion`s share of the attacking, but they had to watch out for Macc on the break. No matter....the blues pressed on- the lively Hannah Mitchell being kept out by good work from Hannah Davies. Demi  Noon joined in being stopped first by Davies and then by the excellent Walmsley who again produced the goods in shed loads as the County forward hurtled through the middle at a rate of knots.

Noon and Walmsley vie for control.....

It looked like a second goal would never arrive, and then with seconds left of the half did .
  Tia Barber had just added to the growing list of County woes, with some `bites yer legs’ defending, when Macclesfield`s progress was abruptly halted by a thunderously good intervention from Sally Stringer. She set the move up brilliantly, and it was finished with polish and aplomb as Georgia Vernadakis caressed a fantastic effort over the advancing keeper`s head into the back of the net. That was simply was half time too, and 2-0 was a pretty good return for County for 45 minutes hard work.....could they now build on that in the second 45 though?
Vernadakis on the charge.........

Macclesfield opened the second half brightly with Charlotte Mathers and Lorraine Wade to the fore, but the stand out moment in the first 10 minutes came with County pressing, when a poor challenge on Shauna Miller, looked like ushering in a penalty to County. The referee gave a corner, and battle as the redoubtable Georgia Vernadakis did, she could not keep her shot down and Macc had survived.
County were however starting to build momentum now and Tia Barber was earning her corn with some decisive action at the back for the visitors. Even so Hislop and Vernadakis were able to make some headway, and the former`s cross landed nicely for one of either Shauna Miller or Sarah Leonard to deal with. Leonard it was who had the honour, but the shot went just wide and Macc breathed easily once again.

Noon burst clear tracked by Barber.

On....on it went with Miller shooting wide on the turn, and Noon going close not long after. Again it looked like that elusive third would never come, until the hour mark arrived with Miller winning her team a precious free kick. It soared into the box from the foot of Lydia Henshall, and although Walmsley looked at one point as though she had it....faced with challenges from Miller, Leonard and the predatory Vernadakis, she suddenly hadn`t and Vernadarkis pounced slotting the ball into the net to make it 3-0.

Vernadakis ready to pounce........

Macclesfield rallied after this and it took good work from Faye Smith and Charlotte Taylor to keep them quiet, as Wade and Barber urged their team mates on.
County still had their moments midst this Macc revival.....Mitchell going close, and then closer as her shot took a deflection off Miller and went into the net for what I saw as the fourth goal. The referee did not however and ruled the `goal’ out for......err.....I`ll get back to you on that.........

Confident Nyemh Johnson, saved a pen !
Almost immediately Macclesfield took heart and ran at County, and Henshall did well to keep Franks out. Vernadakis did even better ....... tracking back to get a fantastic tackle in to stop Caitlin Wilson as she powered forward. It was a corner and this soon became a penalty as the ball struck a blue arm in the box. Up stepped Barber to do the honours and she hit it well, but Nyemh Johnson`s dive saw her keep it out. County wellied it clear , but only to Lorrain Bailey who whipped it straight back in again, and Johnson had no chance as the ball flew into the net, making it now 3-1.
Macclesfield deserved that, but County were in no mood to dwell on that fact and within 5 minutes their 3 goal advantage was re-established, as a lightning break out from defence saw a sublime finish by Hannah Mitchell make it 4-1. Mitchell had threatened that for some time, and it was well deserved!
Mitchell about to put the fourth away!

County were in prime form in the games dying embers ....Mitchell inches from a fifth.....Rowe unluckily ruled offside moments later , but Macc had their moments too ....Mathers doing heroics at the back and Bailey not far away from doubling her goal tally.

Late action.

The game was nearly over, as Vernadakis pulled out another prime cut tackle to deny Shepherd, and Henshall a slider to rob Bailey. It only required Leonard and Rowe to give Walmsley some angst and that was that.....uncork the shampoo.....County were Champions! 

Cue celebrations............

The team have one game to go now of course, but this was an authoritative way to get where you want to go, and they are worthy Champions!

County line up(inc subs)
Nyemh Johnson, Olivia Lockett, Faye Smith, Lydia Henshall, Georgina Corser,Sally Stringer, Megan Rowe, Hannah Mitchell, Georgia Vernadakis, Charlotte Hislop, Jessica McNair, Shauna Miller, Sarah Leonard, Charlotte Taylor, Catherine Eastwood, Demi Noon.

Macclesfield line up ( inc subs).
Zena Walmsley, Molly Jones, Jess Jones, Hannah Davies, Katie Franks, Lauren Bailey, Melanie Forster, Louisa Wade, Charlotte Mathers, Jess Shepherd, Yazmin Howell, Caitlin Wilson, Becky

 Additional Gallery;-

With apologies Nyemh...a brilliant save badly photographed!

Ian Brown


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