Liverpool Ladies kicked off 2015 with a 4-1 friendly win over Aston Villa. Over the course of the 90 minutes Matt Beard fielded 20 players, including 7 debutants.
Danielle Gibbons started in goal in place of the injured Libby Stout, Satara Murray partnered Corina Schroder in the centre of defence with Ingrid Ryland at right back and Martha Harris on the left.
Fara Williams captained the side on her birthday with Katrin Omarsdottir alongside her in midfield. Natasha Dowie played as the lone striker with the attacking three of trialist, Nicole Rolser and Kate Longhurst behind her.
From the opening whistle Nicole Rolser and Ingrid Ryland were combining well on the right wing, with Ryland overlapping Rolser and looking to get crosses into the box. The same was happening on the opposite flank with Martha Harris particularly impressing attacking down the left wing and working with Kate Longhurst.
Liverpool’s trialist was the highlight of the first half, creating chances for herself and her team mates playing just behind Natasha Dowie in the no.10 position. The trialist earned the corner from which Liverpool took the lead; Fara Williams swinging the ball in, falling to Dowie in the 6-yard box, the striker’s first shot was blocked but she tapped home the rebound to put the WSL champions in the lead.
Aston Villa couldn’t find a way past Liverpool in the first half, Satara Murray first to every ball – strong and resilient in defence, always looking up to press forwards and carry the ball out.
Gibbons found herself tested twice between the posts in the opening 45 minutes, one dangerous looking cross was well caught by the keeper and minutes later she recovered well to collect and hold on to the ball as the Villa attacker went through on goal.
The reds went in at half-time 2-0 up, the trialist getting herself on the score sheet with a fantastic solo effort and could have had 1 or 2 more goals to her name had she not unselfishly crossed to her team mates. For her goal the trialist won the ball in midfield, chased down the left wing, cut inside the box past a couple of defenders and slotted the ball past the keeper.
Liverpool made one substitution at half-time, Hannah Dale making her first appearance since her return from injury in replace of the trialist.
Villa started the second half well, winning an early free kick that was headed away by Satara Murray.
The visitors did pull a goal back through Natasha Baptiste, who capitalised on a mix up in the reds defence to put the ball past Gibbons.
Kate Longhurst had a brilliant game, Longhurst is consistently one of the hardest working players on the pitch and ran box-to-box today creating chances at one end before getting back to help out in defence at the other. Longhurst almost found herself on the score sheet when an audacious shot/ cross skimmed the crossbar, it looked as though the keeper had got a hand to it but the referee gave a free kick.
Liverpool soon re-extended their lead to 2 goals, Natasha Dowie grabbing her second of the afternoon and the pick of the goals. A great ball forward over the top of the defence was matched by a well-timed run from Dowie who clinically chipped the ball around the oncoming keeper to make it 3-1 to Liverpool.
Dowie enjoyed a fantastic afternoon, holding the ball well in and around the 18-yard box and being unlucky not to have an assist to her name after chesting down Katrin Omarsdottir’s ball forward into the path of Longhurst – her first time strike was deflected wide.
Liverpool made a number of second half substitutions, development squad top scorer Ashley Hodson came on for Nicole Rolser and immediately made an impact working well with Dowie initially on the right wing but then moving to a more central position.
Hodson’s development squad teammates Emilie Revitt and Maz Pacheco were introduced shortly afterwards, both on the left side of the Liverpool defence.
Revitt slotting in at centre-back with ease, not looking out of place in the first team and Pacheco continuing her trademark forward runs from left back – almost setting Hodson up after beating the Villa defender at the edge of the box and cutting the ball across the box.
Revitt almost found herself trapped in the corner with two Villa players behind her, but managed to turn and beat them – confidently bringing the ball out from defence and passing it forward.
Claudia Walker then came on for Kate Longhurst, Walker playing her second game of the weekend after getting minutes during England U19s friendly against Norway at St Georges Park yesterday.
The 4th and final Liverpool goal came from yet another Fara Williams corner, a perfect delivery from the midfielder was met by Satara Murray who marked her reds debut with a goal – a thumping header at the far post.
Into the last ten minutes of the game and club captain Gemma Bonner came on for goal scorer Murray, Bonner was joined by 3 more development squad debutants with Vicky Rumsey, Bethany Donoghue and Rachel Darbyshire all given minutes with the first team by Matt Beard.
XI: Gibbons (Darbyshire), Ryland, Murray (Bonner), Schroder (Revitt), Harris (Pacheco), Williams (Rumsey), Omarsdottir, Rolser (Hodson), Trialist (Dale), Longhurst (Walker), Dowie (Donoghue)
POTM: Satara Murray
Liverpool’s next first team friendly is away at Derby County on Wednesday 4th February, the development squad are in action at home next Sunday – they face Everton at 2pm.