Chorley’s Fairytale Cup Win Sets Up Bradford Test

After their sensational victory over higher league Middlesbrough in the First Round which saw them come back from 3-1 and 4-3 down, Impetus partner club Chorley host Bradford City in the Women’s FA Cup second round tomorrow. Head coach Ben Gooden spoke to Impetus editor Ben Gilby.

Above: Chorley head coach Ben Gooden. Photo: Moorland Football.

For Ben Gooden, it’s been business as usual at Chorley since the return to football earlier this year. But business as usual has also included a Cup run that has a fairytale attached to it.

“Going into the first round tie, we knew that Middlesbrough were a very good side with really good young players but we went into the game with a plan to try and win. That isn’t anything new for the players to deal with because we do that for every game. 

“We had to change the system on the day because of the players available to us but I felt that if we could keep the game in transition, we’d have chances because they would become unorganized and spaces would open up for us.”

The tie was such a rollercoaster as Chorley came back from a 3-1 deficit to 4-4 at the end of 90 minutes. Ben was not surprised by his team’s resilience – it was something he knew was in them.

“I know the character of this team. I think it can be counter-productive to be at the edge of a technical area screaming that they need to score a goal. We’ve instilled that attitude to stick to the game plan regardless of the state of the game. If we keep our heads, let the players compose themselves, and calmly make adjustments if needed we can achieve things.

Above: Chorley celebrate their sensational win over higher division Middlesbrough in Round One. Photo: Munro Sports Photography.

“This season we’ve conceded first and won games and we’ve come back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 and come away disappointed not to have won the game. I don’t think you can ever count us out because even when we are behind we are going to create chances and that was the final message at halftime.

“The whole squad were incredible. We’ve said all year that the need of the team has to outweigh the individual need and you felt that more than ever against Middlesbrough. Everyone worked as hard as they could to ensure we won the game. Whether that was someone on the pitch, whether they were an unused game-changer or they were watching from the side injured. Without that support from their teammates you wouldn’t have the performance in the middle.”

However, the comeback from 3-1 down was not the only incredible element in the game. Chorley’s four goals and winning penalty were scored by 16-year-old Aleesha Collins who was making her FA Cup debut. 

“From our perspective, Aleesha isn’t an overnight sensation and that’s why she found herself starting the game. She’s done amazing things with the Under 18’s, stepped up in the FAWN Reserve League and has already made two competitive appearances for the first team.

“The plan was always to choose Aleesha’s games wisely for the first team this season after playing all of our games in the post-season friendlies. We wanted to take the next 12 months to build her confidence and continue with the great work that has been done in the reserves. But you can’t ignore a performance like that. We can’t downplay her arrival because it’s incredible. 

“To be fair to her and her sister, they have really good characters and aren’t fazed by anything. It’s why Aleesha put her hand up and wanted to take a penalty. They just take everything in their stride and I think a big contributing factor to that is their family. Those girls are a credit to them and it certainly makes our job easier when they have such strong support behind them.

We’ve told the players previously that we need to protect her and I think after this we’ve to do this as a collective.”

Above: Four-goal teenager Aleesha Collins in action against Middlesbrough in Round One. Photo: Munro Sports Photography.

The second-round draw handed Chorley a home tie tomorrow with fellow FA Women’s National League Division One North side Bradford City.

“We expect Sunday to be a tough game for us, Bradford are an organized side and they work hard. They come here after a big county cup win and we’ve had a weekend without a fixture so they will be full of confidence.

“We’ve played them once already this season and we’ve watched them a couple of times too so we’ve to use that information and put a plan together to try and progress to the third round.

“From a club point of view the FA Cup is an opportunity to bring some prize money into the club and with the first game being away in the north east, we actually lost money through transport hire so it’s nice to get a couple of home ties in after that one.

“From a footballing perspective, it’s been a good opportunity to try and build some momentum against tough opposition. It was amazing to share that experience with the supporters against Middlesbrough as it has been a long time since we last played at home. I just hope we can put on another show for them this time.”

Artwork by: Graphics by PW.

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