Brighouse Town Women edge FC United of Manchester in FA Cup
Brighouse Town made it through to the second round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup after a hard-fought 1-0 win against FC United of Manchester.
However Sunday’s game was overshadowed by a nasty looking injury to the home team’s Eve Kennerley, which caused a 90-minute delay until she could be taken to hospital.
She went into a tackle with Brighouse’s Danielle Whitham with around 10 minutes left and immediately went down clutching her leg.
As the full extent of the injury became clear the injured midfielder was comforted on the pitch by her team-mates while the 140-strong crowd looked on anxiously.
By the time play did restart at 5.20pm the home team threw everything at Brighouse in search of the equaliser but couldn’t breach the visitors’ defence.
Up until the injury Brighouse had dominated the match without turning their possession into goals.
After both sides took part in a moving Remembrance Sunday ceremony it was Brighouse, who play in a league higher than their opponents, who started the strongest.
The home side started with three at the back and two wing backs, including their dangerous captain Kirsty Chambers, to negate the threat of Brighouse’s speedy wingers Leah Embley and Drew Greene.
It was Embley who came closest to breaking the deadlock early on when she clipped the crossbar with a shot from outside the area.
FC United were happy to play on the counter attack and had claims for a penalty handball against Shauna Legge turned down midway through the first half by the referee.
Brighouse’s left back Becky Gompertz made a number of marauding runs forward and forced the impressive FC United goalkeeper Chloe Ainsworth into a good save with her feet.
On 38 minutes the visitors’ leading scorer Amy Woodruff found herself with a one-on-one with the FC United goalkeeper but Ainsworth denied her with a smart stop.
But Brighouse didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal and it came from an unlikely source.
Woodruff found player-of-the-match Sophie John who powered an unstoppable left foot shot into the corner of the net for her first goal for the club.
FC United responded with a shot from their impressive number seven Ella Hartley, which was saved by goalkeeper Imogen Maguire, who was back after missing last week through illness.
The second half started with FC United on the front foot and their best chance of the match fell to their striker Keeley Godwin but her shot went agonisingly wide.
Drew Greene forced a couple of good saves from Ainsworth before Brighouse manager Rob Mitchell brought on three substitutes including former FC United player Cara Fields, Whitham and Molly Havard.
Fields was making a welcome return from a knee injury and almost made it 2-0 but was thwarted by Ainsworth’s foot.
Kennerley’s injury followed soon afterwards and the players deserve huge credit for completing the game in such difficult circumstances.
Both sides had chances to score and in the last few seconds Chambers found herself bearing down on the Brighouse goal but couldn’t get the ball out from under her feet to get a shot away.
After the match Brighouse manager Rob Mitchell said: “Our thoughts are with Eve Kennerley after her injury. It looked a nasty one and we hope she’s able to get back on the pitch.
“It was a difficult situation for everyone but I thought the officials were excellent to get the game played.
“As for the game it was a professional performance against a good team. The defence was very solid but if you’d told me Sophie John would score the only goal of the match I wouldn’t have believed you in a million years. It was a really good finish and it was a great time to get her first goal for the club.”