On a wet, windy morning in Ormskirk, Liverpool Ladies u17s played their final league game of 2015/16 beating Stoke City by 2 goals to nil.
Liverpool had secured the league title 2 weeks earlier, learning while on the way home from a 5-1 drubbing of Derby County that chasers Blackburn had failed to win, making it impossible for the young Reds to be caught at the top.
That made this game against Stoke merely a formality yet one to be taken seriously; much earlier in the campaign, as reported by LFCladiesfans, the u17s went 2-0 down to the same opposition. An impressive comeback was staged with a brace each from Louise and Meg, 4-2 the final score.
It is worth also noting that this is the first Liverpool u17 side to win the league title, a title that has been dominated by Manchester United in recent years.
As it stands, even if United win their final games Liverpool will still finish 5 points clear. A great achievement by all involved and, before getting today’s match report underway, I’d like to congratulate each and every player and coaches Andy Newland and Charlotte Healy on a great season!
The tone was set with back-to-back opening victories over both United and Blackburn, sides that had finished above Liverpool in the 2 previous seasons, before the Reds embarked on a 11-game winning streak. In the second half of the season Liverpool suffered a couple of defeats, with no shame in the 4-1 loss to United and also beat by a good Blackburn side but the title was secured after big wins against Derby County and a 2-0 derby win against Everton.
Having personally watched the u17s play several times this season, they are a talented group of players for whom the future is very bright! Watch this space…
Onto the game itself which was mainly played in midfield with plenty of Liverpool probing around the 18-yard box but with few clear cut chances in each half.
In the centre the excellent Mia and Brenna showed their strength on and off the ball, Mia’s complete dominance in front of the back line the reason the Reds defence were tested so little.
The defence consisted of set-piece specialist Charlotte at left-back, a centre-back pairing of Tia and Chloe with Megan on the right and Jen in goal.
Louise led the front line supported by captain Paige, Lauren and Sophie.
Early in the game it was Charlotte and Sophie causing the most danger on the right wing, Sophie twice racing down the sideline and beating the defender to win a corner for the Reds. Unfortunately on one of these rampaging runs the winger picked up an injury after a challenge and was replaced by the equally impressive Cassia.
As the first half progressed Liverpool drew closer and closer to converting one of Charlotte’s corners, Brenna almost poking the ball over the line but for a goalmouth scramble to deny her the opening goal.
Charlotte herself was also denied, a brilliant passing move by the Reds kickstarted by Mia and Megan combining to set Paige down the left wing, Paige crossed to Louise whose strike was blocked only as far as Charlotte – her 25-yard hit only just held onto by the Stoke goalkeeper.
Stoke were proving tough to wear down, the breakthrough finally coming on the stroke of half-time and after a 5 minute period during which Liverpool were down to 10 with Paige temporarily sidelined. Charlotte sending a corner into the crowded 6-yard box, the ball bouncing off a number of players before rolling into the back of the net off a Stoke player.
Liverpool made one change at the break with Caitlin on for Lauren.
Into the second half and Mia and Megan continued to be in the thick of the action, linking well with Cole once more yet Stoke snuffed out one attack, quickly back to defend Megan’s cross after the Reds had quickly countered.
A second counter attack saw Chloe clear to Caitlin, she passed to Mia who had also made the run, wide to Megan whose cross went in search of Paige however ended in the goalies arms.
The Reds had to be patient for the second goal which came after Megan’s cross skimmed past Louise to instead land at Cassia’s feet, the Welsh youth international making no mistakes from yards out to make it 2-0 to Liverpool.
As mentioned previously the defence had little to do except remaining switched on throughout, set pieces were defended well with notable clearances from Chloe and Louise. While Reds keeper Jen, who recently found herself on the bench for the Development Squad, kept a commanding presence at the back, vocally organising the defence in front of her despite having probably the quietest afternoon of her season.
A trio of chances capped off the morning for Liverpool, Caitlin’s strike from the edge of the area almost alluding the substitute Stoke keeper, Louise firing a powerful shot inches wide and Cassia almost adding her second of the game after a layoff from Caitlin.
The game finishing 2-0 and the team deservedly celebrating a fantastic season.