Thankfully despite all the drama happening off the pitch (and there has been a lot) the Reds were able to secure a late 1-0 win when they visited Brighton on Sunday.
Vicky Jepson took over the managerial duties after the departure of Neil Redfearn last week and interim manager Chris Kirkland unable on the day, having to honor a prior commitment to a charity function. Jepson herself has been with Liverpool since 2009, working with LFC Foundation and managing the development squad, most recently departed that position to become the First Team Coach for the Women. With an incredible background including working for the England Women’s national team, it’s hard not to wonder why she didn’t take over the team in the first place. That’s none of my business, though.
Jepson fielded a defensive team that was eager to find not only their first win of the regular season but their first goals of the regular season. The first half started nervy, as both sides were eager to get on the board fast and early, and the first real chance of the match came Niamh Charles fifteen minutes in. Charles’ long range shot went skyward, unfortunately, sailing over the bar, but it set the tone for the Reds scrap ahead.
Jess Clarke was gifted a chance not long after the halfway point of the half when she pounced on a sloppy clearance from Brighton’s Lucy Gillett. Clarke took one too few touches before she shot and her effort was saved easily by the Brighton keeper, unfortunately. Eight minutes before the break Clarke was instrumental in another opportunity, breaking through two Brighton markers and passing to Kirsty Linnet to move to Christie Murray, but the hosts cleared it before Murray could get a touch.
Despite all this movement and pace, the first half ended goalless for both teams, with Liverpool looking particularly dangerous on the breaks.
The action picked up immediately where it left off in the second half, when Liverpool keeper Anke Preuss was finally challenged by Brighton. Kristy Barton fired a rocket from range ten minutes into the second half and Preuss caught it easily but not without it’s own sting.
Preuss’ best chance would come moments later, when Brighton right back Kayleigh Green got into shooting position from the left channel to get a low shot in. Preuss came off her line just in time to stop the strike with an outstretched leg, stifling Brighton’s best chance so far at a goal in outstanding fashion.
Just as Brighton seemed to have figured out how to get on top, Liverpool would finally deal the ending blow, with substitute Rinsola Babajide scoring on a rebound. Babajide played through fellow substitute Courtney Sweetman-Kirk with five minutes left in the half, but the effort was saved just barely by Gillett, only to have Babajide latch on and roll it low into the bottom left corner.
Hard fought and well earned, the Reds come home with their first goal and first win in the league.
Their next meeting is their first home match of the season against Reading FC in Prenton Park on September 30th.