Match Preview: Liverpool Ladies v Aston Villa

Pre-season friendly
6:30pm KO, free entry
Saturday 22nd March, 2014
Select Stadium, Halton, Widnes


 This SaturdayLiverpool Ladies’ will continue their preparations for the 2014 WSL season with a home friendly against WSL2 newcomers Aston Villa.

 Liverpool’s two pre-season games so far this year have seen three goals, scored by Natasha Dowie, Amanda DaCosta and Ellie Stewart, with two clean sheets kept by Danielle Gibbons and new goalkeeper Libby Stout.

 Since the last game here at Halton on Saturday 22nd February the reds received an injury blow when new signing Lucy Staniforth, who had only just made her first start in almost a year since a serious knee injury in The FA Cup final, suffered the same injury again during training – the opposite knee this time – ruling her out for the season before it has begun. *EDIT* Yesterday (20th March) Liverpool announced Nicole Rolser has also suffered the same injury in training, wishing both players the best of luck with their rehab and hopefully we’ll see them back in red shirts soon!

 Over the last couple of weeks 9 Liverpool players have been away with their respective international teams, reds captain Gemma Bonner scoring her first goal for England and Fara Williams twice captaining the Lionesses on their run to the Cyprus Cup final. To see all results from these games, read available match reports and watch any highlights follow this link here International Reds: Results.

 Liverpool’s first pre-season game seen them away at Sunderland, a convincing 2-0 win over last year’s Premier League winners preceded the first home game of 2014 which was a slightly tighter affair.

 An unusual line-up change meant the reds had to lend a keeper to Doncaster each half, Libby Stoutstarting in goal for the Belles and then switching with Danielle Gibbons to guard the Liverpool goal in the second half. Each keeper was in great form, Gibbons continuing her fine performances from the development squad’s season and Stout making an assured home debut.

 Another player making the step up from the development squad was centre-back Ellie Stewart. Stewart’s confidence on the pitch defies her young age and the England U19 international gave a commanding performance when called upon in the second half, scoring the games’ only goal when rising to head home a corner which another development squad graduate Katie Zelem had won.

 Liverpool continued 2014 the way they finished the 2013 season, attractive attacking, passing football utilising the full-backs Lucy Bronze and Corina Schroder who press very high up the pitch. Another winter signing Martha Harris replaced Schroder in the second half and showed just how good Liverpool’s squad depth is now staking her claim for a place in the starting 11.

 Reds vice-captain Amanda DaCosta missed this game through illness, giving Kate Longhurst and Natasha Dowie the chance to work together up front. The former being very unlucky in front of goal with a hat-trick of chances going close. 

 The player of the match as voted for on twitter was Liverpool’s fourth new signing, winger Gemma Davison’s trickery on the wing catching the eye with many bursting runs forward into the opposition box.

 The opposition on Saturday evening Aston Villa are one of ten clubs to be selected to play in the newly created second tier of the Women’s Super League. Villa boast a number of England youth internationals, Sherry McCue played alongside Martha Harris in England U23s recent La Manga tournament while Katie Zelem and Ellie Stewart will know Sarah Mayling, Abbey Leigh and Caitlin Leach from their recent camp with England U19s. Villa will be without new signing Emily Owen who has suffered the same knee injury as Lucy Staniforth.

 Villa have played last year’s WSL runners up Bristol Academy during pre-season already, holding the Vixens to a 1-1 draw so this game promises to be a good test for Liverpool ahead of the season starting up in four weeks’ time.
 On Sunday Liverpool Ladies’ development squad are away at Doncaster Belles, looking to bounce back from last weekend’s 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa where Hannah Dale scored the reds only goal. The next home game for the dev. Squad is Sunday 30thMarch, when Notts County will be visiting Halton. That game kicks off at 2pm and is also free entry.

 Finally yesterday I put something a little different up on the blog, for a recent University module we had to put together a portfolio of articles, one of the pieces I wrote was on Liverpool Homeless Football Club. I wanted to share the article because I think the work being done at the club is brilliant, follow this link here to read the article: Liverpool Homeless FC – “More Than Just A Game”.

 Thanks for reading, hope to see you at the game on Saturday!

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