Liverpool Ladies are deep into their own preseason and faced the women’s side from Blackburn Rovers on Saturday at Bamber Bridge, coming home with their first victory since basically rebuilding their team from the ground up. New striker Courtney Sweetman-Kirk scored her first since joining the Reds from rival Everton, finishing the game off at 3-1.
The game opened with a difficult start for Liverpool, as Blackburn proved harder than anticipated to break down. Jasmine Mathews executed a pinpoint pass to Christie Murray but Murray was unable to move through the Rover defenses, and Satara Murray won the ball up high only to see her final cross intercepted. Amy Rodgers had the first real chance of the match at ten minutes in, catching the ball just outside the box only to have her on-target shot scooped up by the ‘keeper.
Sweetman-Kirk did her best, putting the ball anywhere but the back of the net for the next 35 minutes. Despite these efforts, including forcing the Blackburn ‘keeper to palm a header going straight for the top corner, the first half ended in frustration and goalless for both sides.
Neil Redfearn made a couple changes at halftime, bringing on Jess Clarke and the second of two trialists, which proved to be just the ticket. The Reds found their attacking teeth as soon as Clarke came on, slicing more easily through the Rovers back line. A break was thankfully not far behind, with the first trialist by the name of Fletcher sending a pass from Sweetman-Kirk home where it belonged. From then on the match was wide open, but Liverpool added a second through another trialist after creating some chaos in the 18 yard box.
That wide open game came back the other way around as Blackburn halved the Reds’ lead. Sophie Bradley-Auckland kept former Liverpool Development winger Bethany Donoghue from equalizing for her new club. The last ten minutes of the game saw the senior team debut of 17 year old Missy Bo Kearns, a midfielder who has been with Liverpool since joining the U9s. She definitely made the most of her debut by getting stuck into the action, firing a helluva shot that looked destined for the bottom corner, only to have the ‘keeper clean it away safely.
With only three minutes to go Courtney Sweetman-Kirk notched her first in a Red shirt, as Christie Murray swung in a free kick and the new number 9 able to send it home. Finally, after so many shots!
Speaking after the match, Sweetman-Kirk said: “I’m absolutely buzzing to score my first Liverpool goal.
As a striker it’s always nice to get off the mark early so it was really good. Got an assist as well for the first goal, there was a good bit of movement for me to pull the defender out. I’m really happy with it.
I’ve come to the club and know a few of the girls so I think that helps to settle in quickly. I think I’ve been doing well, it’s been tough but that’s what you expect from pre-season - I think so far we’re doing really well.”
It may be preseason but the win is certainly a welcome one for a team that has basically had to come back from the ground up. The two trialists are exciting additions as well and considering two of Liverpool’s three goals came from them, here’s hoping they get signed officially as soon as possible.
The Ladies travel to Germany next for a week of friendlies, playing SGS Essen on Wednesday, August 1 and then Bayern Munich Women on Sunday, August 5th, and honestly they need all the support they can get. As always.