Fresh from an 8-0 cup win, UoM were hoping to bring some of their cup form into the league where they have a had a difficult time. The side had lost their opening three league games and found themselves rooted to the bottom of the Northern 2A table.
The home side started the better and looked to go ahead in the early stages. A half volley wide from Katie Newton was a sign of their opening dominance.
Any momentum they had came to a swift halt though as the number 10 of Central Lancashire picked up a painful injury. A trapping of the ball between two feet saw the number 10 come off worst and she fell to the ground, audibly hurt from the coming together. A lengthy stoppage ensued as the first aid team were called over.
With the injured player now off the pitch, Lancashire were forced to play with ten men for a period as their substitute ran through her warm up. It was during this period that Manchester looked dominant. Seeing plenty of the ball, they looked to press home their woman advantage.
With 13 minutes on the clock, Manchester did make the most of their extra player as they got the opening goal of the game. Good play from Olivia Abbott allowed her to pick out Elise Skeldong in the box. Skeldong controlled the ball and calmly placed it low into the right of the net and beyond the keeper’s reach.
After the goal, Lancashire returned to having 11 players as their number 14 replaced the injured number 10. Back on level terms personnel wise, the game shifted to a more even contest.
In contrast from the opening game of the season where she played in defence, club captain Megan Clarkson was this time operating in a midfield role and her advanced position up the field allowed her one of the best chances of the first half. A cross found an open Clarkson in the box but she could only head the ball onto the crossbar in a let off for Lancashire.
After the attempt, Clarkson was involved in a smiler incident that saw the Lancashire 10 leave the field. Two players going for the ball seemingly jarred Clarkson’s foot but she played on.
Just after the half hour mark, the visitors had their equalisers. In what was an even game up to that point, UoM were the ones creating the better chances but the away side was more clinical. Their number 11 collected the ball and placed into the net to tie proceedings at 1-1.
Two minutes later and it was again the number 11 causing danger for Manchester. A pass through the middle of the defence, a particular weak point for the home side, found the number 11 who proceeded to slot the ball past the keeper in a near carbon copy of her first goal. The quick fire one-two seemed to deflate UoM and they went in at half time 2-1 down.
The opening stages of the second period brought more disappointment for UoM as Clarkson picked up another injury. This time however she was forced to leave the field and Manchester brought a substitute on.
Despite the loss, UoM started in a similar vain to the first half and looked to find an equaliser. Grace Cunliffe saw her shot saved and Katie Newton’s shot went narrowly wide from outside of the box.
With the goal advantage, Lancashire were seemingly happy to sit back and hit on the counter. This was driving dangerous for UoM and in particular the pace of the visitors’ number 11 who was looking for her hat-trick.
Lancashire’s coach looked to solidify their lead by dropping their tall number 9 into midfield and having their number 2 chase any loose balls up top.
Manchester continued to push for an equaliser and in the 69th minute they got it. Abbott was given time in the box to finesse a ball into the left inside netting of the goal. It was a great finish that set UoM up to go on for a winner.
Both teams now were pressing for a winner with Lancashire’s number 9 and 14 seeing their attempts go just wide while Manchester struggled to get in to the opponent’s box.
With less than ten minutes to go, Manchester suffered a horrendous piece of luck. A low drilled cross from Lancashire was cleared by the UoM defender only to hit the post, rebound back onto the defender and then it to the net. This is the second time this season UoM have been on the wrong end of an unfortunate own goal and the goal visibly deflated the side.
Unable to create any real clear cut chance in the dying embers of the game, UoM lost the game 2-3. Their fourth league defeat in four. On the balance of play, a draw would have been a fair result and UoM will be hoping their luck changes in the near future.