Vick Jepson’s Liverpool Ladies Development Squad were crowned winners of the FAWSL Northern Development League on Sunday afternoon; coming from a goal down to beat Durham WFC Development Squad 4-1.
Durham had taken a 1-0 lead in at half time only for Cassia Pike to net an equaliser minutes into the second half. Pike added a second fifteen minutes later before setting Lizzie Earle up to extend the lead.
With the title won, Meg Taylor arrived to tap home the fourth and final goal in the closing stages of the game.
Durham’s first attempt – from which they scored – came after Levi Rathburn had shown great strength in the middle to shrug off her marker. Rathburn then switched the ball across to Paige Cole who won the Reds a corner – Lou Ainscow heading this inches wide.
From the resulting goal kick the well-organised Durham side were quick to move the ball up the pitch, their forward slotted the ball over the line with four minutes on the clock.
The Reds kept pushing forward yet were being kept out by the Durham goalkeeper. The ‘keeper getting just enough on Cole’s cross from deep to stop it reaching Elmore and also beat Ainscow to the ball after good work by Meg Taylor and Serena Fletcher.
A clever ball over the top from Earle was also intercepted and S.Fletcher’s shot from outside the box punched away, Pike unable to reach the rebound.
In defence Ellie Fletcher blocked a long range effort from Durham, allowing S.Fletcher to clear up the pitch, and Shannon Beckwith became a real driving force as the half drew on; urging her team mates on and constantly looking to move the ball.
E.Fletcher recently made her debut for the Reds first team and captained the side here, twice going close to scoring from Earle’s set pieces.
With five minutes left in the first half, Beckwith came under pressure at the back yet calmly flicked the ball across herself to play it out with ease.
Out for the second half after a quick pep talk from club captain Gemma Bonner who was there to support the team, the Reds quickly found an equaliser.
Jepson had made one change at the break, bringing another recent first team debutant Amy Rodgers on for Ainscow – this allowing Earle to move further forward and Rathburn drifting further wide.
It was Pike who fired home the leveller, arriving at the back back to convert Elmore’s cross in from the left.
Buoyed by the goal, Liverpool began creating chance after chance. S.Fletcher and Pike both with efforts blocked and Pike almost finding Earle with an audacious back heel.
Two goals then followed in two minutes, Pike scoring here second of the afternoon from a tight angle and then setting up Earle who produced a fine finish to extend the lead to 3-1.
Durham went looking for a way back into the game, Becky Flaherty though switched on and quick off her line to gather a long ball sent over the top.
The Reds second substitution of the afternoon seen Pike replaced by Annabel Blanchard, who quickly found herself thrown into the action – turning well in the middle to pick out the run of Ainscow, her cross out for a goal kick.
Blanchard was then involved as Liverpool scored their fourth, flicking on Rathburn’s cross which was tapped back to Taylor by Elmore. Taylor making no mistakes from yards out and ensuring the Reds ran out 4-1 winners to secure the league title.
Liverpool Ladies Development Squad: Flaherty, S.Fletcher, Beckwith, E.Fletcher (C), Cole, Taylor, Rathburn, Earle, Elmore, Pike (Blanchard), Ainscow (Rodgers)
Unused Substitutes: Carberry, Boydell, Thomas