Today Liverpool Ladies Under 17s won The FA Youth Cup following a 1-0 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton Ladies.
Rachel Darbyshire started in goal for the reds with the solid centre-back pairing of captain Olivia Fuller and Rachel Robinson in front of her. Maz Pacheco and Beth Evans were at left-back and right-back, with Jessica Davenport up front, Mollie Green just behind her and the midfield four of Summer Smith, Tash Rothery, Blue Pendlebury and Kess Elmore.
The first half was an even battle between the two strong youth sides, it was Everton who had the first chance of the game with their forward firing well over from the edge of the area.
Mollie Green returned to U17 action following a successful recent spell with the development squad, combining well with Jess Davenport in and around the 18-yard box to set up Tash Rothery for Liverpool’s first chance of the game – the shot just off target.
Seconds later Davenport went on another mazy run into the box, her strike deflected out for a corner which was cleared. Liverpool continued to show brief spells of dominance in the first-half; a great through ball from Green was latched onto by Rothery but the blues defender managed to get back to clear.
From the clearance Everton themselves forged forward, Rachel Robinson blocking the shot but the blues continued to press forward – Summer Smith doing well to get back to cover and put the Everton attacker off her strike.
Before half-time Liverpool were presented with a number of opportunities, Rothery and Davenport both seeing strikes go wide before Maz Pacheco’s free kick was headed away before it could reach Mollie Green. Green had the last chance of the first-half, somehow her goal bound strike was kept out by the Everton keeper.
Out for the second-half the reds picked up were they left off, Lizzie Earle – who replaced Beth Evans – and Pacheco pressing high up the pitch driving the team forward. Straight away winning a corner which was headed wide by Olivia Fuller, Blue Pendlebury also went close to opening the scoring but seen her effort only just go the wrong side of the post.
Everton did have a couple of chances early on, No1 Rachel Darbyshire punching away the corner and comfortably coming out to collect the return ball. The keeper was calm and composed when called upon throughout the 90 minutes – seconds before the final whistle expertly getting a hand to a long distance strike.
Kess Elmore had an excellent game in midfield, the quality of the crosses she was sending into the box was fantastic and she was a constant source of creativity for Liverpool.
Just minutes after teeing Pacheco up for a strike that was well saved, Elmore broke through the so far resilient blues defence and brilliantly finished past the keeper. The strike would prove to be the cup winning goal, Everton stepped up their game after going behind but Liverpool stayed strong as a team unit proving tough to break down.
Rachel Robinson was another stand out performer in the heart of defence, working well alongside Fuller to halt and frustrate the blues in their search for an equaliser.
Hayley Taylor also came on as a second-half substitute to add fresh legs to the side, helping the team to see out the win with ease.
POTM: When doing the vote each of Rachel Robinson, Maz Pacheco, Rachel Darbyshire and Kess Elmore were mentioned, with Elmore picking up the majority – the game-winning goal capping an impressive performance for the England youth international.
XI: Darbyshire, Evans (Earle), Fuller (C), Robinson, Pacheco, Smith (Taylor), Pendlebury, Rothery, Elmore, Green, Davenport
Unused subs: Carberry, F. Curteis, E. Curteis, Johnson, Threlkeld
Overall Liverpool thoroughly deserved to lift the cup, beating Everton in style – particularly during the second-half – and displaying attractive attacking football with some great passing movement. Congratulations to the whole team and to coach Matty Campbell!
The future for Liverpool Ladies is very, very bright!
Thanks for reading,