X-REDS: THE RETURN OF #STANWATCH

As a lifelong Liverpool supporter, the difference between supporting the women’s team and the men’s team is vastly different. Having a season ticket for both, at Anfield I am one supporter amongst 40,000, while in Widnes you’re one in 800 – at away games, one in around 20 or less.

What does this have to do with X-Reds? Supporting a team as emphatically as I have via @LFCladiesfans over the last 3 years, the support for the players who move on doesn’t end when they sign for a new club. When they’re not playing against Liverpool, I find myself rooting for them and wanting to see them do well.

7 weeks ago I watched Natasha Dowie, Becky Easton and Katrin Omarsdottir turn out for Doncaster Belles in a friendly against Aston Villa and it got me thinking: why does the coverage of these players have to end just because they leave Liverpool?

I enjoyed watching Dowie score twice for her new club, I was made up to see Whitney Engen turn out for Tyreso FF in the Champions League in 2014 (and, quite literally, bump into her in the middle of a busy Montreal street last summer) and when Lucy Bronze scored the winning goal against Norway in Ottawa, I felt proud that she had won back-to-back titles with the Reds.

Therefore X-REDS is a new fortnightly look at players who have left Liverpool in recent years.

When Liverpool’s first team or development squad have no games then the aim is to get to a match somewhere in the country that will have a least one ex-Liverpool player featuring.

If, like me, you are interested in following these players careers post-Liverpool then this is the blog for you, if not ignore them, nothing else is changing on the LFCladiesfans blog, there’ll still be the usual reports, previews, round-ups and reviews. Although you may have noticed a change in the match day coverage on social media.

The blogs will primarily focus on those playing in the Women’s Super League and Matt Beard’s new Boston Breakers side that features 3 title winning Reds – in July I’m looking forward to attending two Breakers games and one Chicago Red Stars to see Amanda Da Costa! All of which will be blogged about here!

FA CUP WEEKEND

So this last weekend, with Liverpool out of The FA Cup, I headed up to Hetton-le-Hole to watch Sunderland Ladies take on Reading Women in the quarter-finals.

Sunderland have two ex-Liverpool players in their ranks. In 2013 with both Danielle Gibbons and Sarah Quantrill injured, Rachael Laws was drafted in on derby day as an emergency loan signing and the goalkeeper went on to play an important role as the Reds won their first league title and qualified for the Champions League.

At the end of 2013 Laws went back to Sunderland, winning promotion to the top tier the following season and embarking on a successful first year in the top flight with the Black Cats in 2015.

This year Laws has been joined in the North East by Lucy Staniforth, the midfielder having spent 2 seasons on Merseyside, signing in 2014 however missed the entire 2014 season after injuring her anterior cruciate ligament in pre-season training. A particular blow for the player who was making her return from the same injury in the opposite knee.

Staniforth would wait until 26 March, 2015 to make her first competitive appearance for Liverpool, then building up her playing time with the club’s development side before scoring her first goal in a 3-0 Continental Cup win against Doncaster and appearing in both legs of the Champions League ties against Brescia.

On her move back to Sunderland, Staniforth said “Coming back pretty much ticked every box. Having had a spell out injured, I was looking for some regular football and Sunderland’s set-up is brilliant.”

Both players started against Reading on Sunday, Laws in goal and Staniforth in a deep midfield role.

Sunderland had been held to a 1-1 draw by Reading just days earlier in their opening WSL game but sent their Southern visitors out the cup, winning 3-0.

Staniforth was involved in 2 of the 3 goals, a 40-yard pass in the 35th minute that gets more impressive on each viewing picking out Krystle Johnston on the right wing and Johnston crossing the ball low to Beth Mead for open the scoring.

Then, minutes before half-time, Victoria Williams knocked a Staniforth free kick past Mary Earps in the Reading goal to double Sunderland’s lead.

Laws prevented Reading from pulling a goal back with a point blank save in the second-half, then in injury time ex-Everton player Brooke Chaplen scored the 3rd and final goal of the afternoon to secure a place in the semi-finals.

The draw for the semi-finals took place as St.Georges Park yesterday, Sunderland will face Fara Williams and Asisat Oshoala’s Arsenal Ladies while Gemma Davison and Chelsea will take on Lucy Bronze and Manchester City.

These games will take place on Sunday 17th April, Liverpool’s development squad are away at Birmingham on that day so unless that gets postponed there will be no coverage of the semi-finals on this blog!

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