Liverpool Ladies development squad’s season has been disrupted by the first-team injury crisis, with many players making the step up to fill the gaps. Claudia Walker, Ashley Hodson, Hannah Dale, Megan Alexander and Ellie Stewart have all made appearances while goalkeeper Gemma Jackson has been a substitute on a couple of occasions.
Tonight with no first team games until next Wednesday, the team was back to full strength against Manchester City with Hodson, Dale, Alexander and Stewart all starting.
Jackson started in goal, with Olivia Wild at right-back, Sophia Riccio captaining the team from left-back and Shannon Beckwith and Stewart the preferred centre-back pairing.
In midfield Eve Kennerley started alongside Dale, with Megan Alexander playing on the right wing, Hodson on the left and Mollie Green, who has been playing for the under-17s, just behind Beth Donoghue who was playing as striker.
Manchester City attacked from the opening whistle, Shannon Beckwith and Ellie Stewart immediately finding themselves under pressure and initially each making a clearance. A cross put in across the 6-yard box however eventually eluded the Liverpool defence and was headed home.
Following the goal the reds began to grow more into the game, with Sophia Riccio in particular linking well with Ashley Hodson on the left wing. Riccio making one of many forward runs, picking out Hodson who crossed to Mollie Green but despite Green doing well to control her strike went over the bar.
Green grabbed Liverpool’s equaliser minutes later, Hodson again doing well to head the ball forward to Beth Donoghue. Donoghue made an excellent run to the edge of the 18-yard box, shrugging off the defender with ease to cut the ball back to Green who finished nicely.
Beth Donoghue was a stand out player, particularly during the first-half where she caused the City defence all sorts of problems with her pace. Donoghue was playing up front however continually drifted out wide, bringing the central defender with her and creating space for Green and Megan Alexander to get forward.
Donoghue linked well with the attacking trio of Green, Hodson and Alexander behind her, the trio providing great service but the City defence tightened following the goal making it tough for Liverpool to break them down.
As mentioned in previous development match reports, the full-backs are just as important as the midfield in the attacking movement of the team. Olivia Wild constantly up and down the wings, with Megan Alexander just in front of her also comfortable playing at full-back meaning there is cover should City win the ball back.
Eve Kennerley and Hannah Dale also kept things ticking over in the centre of midfield, Kennerley with an excellent ball forward midway through the first-half to Riccio but her cross was cleared.
Manchester City found themselves back in front with a brilliant goal from 40-yards out, Liverpool were enjoying the majority of possession and limiting City to long range shots however the City midfielder spotted Jackson off her line.
The blues then extended their lead to 2 goals in the second-half, catching Liverpool on the counter attack with the attacker drawing Ellie Stewart out and then squaring the ball to an oncoming team mate that had made a run past Shannon Beckwith who finished past Jackson.
Ellie Stewart had a good game at centre-back, even almost scoring from a first-half free kick that was more than 40 yards out. The goalkeeper only just getting a hand to it and sending it out for a corner, Riccio fouled at the resulting corner but nothing was given. As Liverpool began to put more pressure on Manchester City, Stewart dealt well with yet another counter attack – comfortably shielding the ball and instead of passing back to Jackson, turning and bringing the ball back forward between two City players.
With the reds 3-1 down and ten minutes to go, Liverpool ramped up the pressure with Olivia Wild in particular a driving force in the side finding herself far forward. Grace Vella came on for Eve Kennerley, Emilie Revitt replaced Sophia Riccio and Yasmin Swarbrick for Megan Alexander to add some fresh legs to the side but the City defence stood strong to defend their lead.
POTM: Mollie Green. Recently making the step-up from the U17s, Green did not look out of place and was a crucial part of the Liverpool attack. Unlucky not to have at least one more goal to her name.
XI: Jackson, Wild, Beckwith, Stewart, Riccio (C) (Revitt), Kennerley (Vella), Dale, Alexander (Swarbrick), Green, Hodson, Donoghue
With this defeat Manchester City remain top of the development league table, 7 points clear of Liverpool but the reds have 4 games in hand meaning they can still finish much higher than their current league position of 5th.
Coming up next the development squad have 3 home games, starting with Durham this Sunday 11th May. All dev. squad games are free entry and a great way of seeing future (and current!) first team players with many talented players in every position.
Thanks for reading,