The Liverpool FC Women got their first competitive action of their very long preseason. Matt Beard’s side headed to Birmingham to take on Championship side Birmingham City with a mixture of veterans, Academy players, and trialists.
The Reds to take on Birmingham City in our first pre-season friendly— Liverpool FC Women (@LiverpoolFCW) August 20, 2023
A number of our Under-21s joining up with the squad today pic.twitter.com/Ayqq2SnDM3
A decidedly second team squad outside a few expected starters lined up. There was an obvious focus on building out of the back and getting into the flow with the patterns of play from Liverpool. That led to some early turnovers in the defensive half that forced the Reds into some emergency defending. Liverpool were able to handle the danger, and began to create more fluid attacking moves as the first half wore on.
The introduction of Jenna Clark and Ceri Holland in the 33rd minute saw Liverpool look much more assured, and the Reds began to really control the tempo of the match. Despite that, Liverpool failed to really threaten the Birmingham City goal throughout the rest of the half.
A multitude of changes at halftime saw a much stronger side on the pitch. The defense, in particular, could very well be the opening day starting defense.
46' - Up and running in the second-half.— Liverpool FC Women (@LiverpoolFCW) August 20, 2023
Here's how we line-up pic.twitter.com/QTdAw8qmw6
It should come as no surprise that Liverpool were very much on the front foot with the stronger line up. The passing was crisper and quicker, and the off ball movement allowed for more progressive play. Liverpool began to generate some solid chances, most frequently through Yana Daniels, but the Reds were unable to break through. Liverpool’s best moment came through Marie Höbinger as she sliced through midfield before slipping a pass in to Daniels. The Belgian looked to have been cleaned out with a late tackle in the box as she drove towards goal, but no penalty was given.
A last round of changes was made by Matt Beard in the 65th minute, bringing on a trio of Academy players. The match became more open in the waning moments, and Birmingham were awarded a controversial foul midway into their own half as the clock ticked towards the 90th minute. Birmingham City managed to win the second ball, and it was squared to Lily Agg who left Rachael Laws no chance to save it.
It’s the first preseason friendly of the summer, so we won’t look too deeply into things. Still, there were a few items of note from the match.
New Signings Impress
Grace Fisk, Jenna Clark, and Marie Höbinger all showed plenty to excite the fan base. Fisk and Clark were calm and assured defensively, with Clark in particular making some impressive tackles. Both center backs also showed off impressive passing range as they beat the press to find midfielders and attackers checking back to the ball.
Marie Höbinger was probably the most surprising of the new signings, showing nifty footwork and some real attacking verve. The Austrian midfielder progressed the ball well on the dribble, knifing forward several times. She also displayed some smart passing, linking up well with the rest of the squad.
Natasha Flint was the only other new signing to play today. She had some nice hold up play early in the match, but she was starved of service throughout the first half.
With only one regular striker, Natasha Flint, in the side today, it should come as no surprise Liverpool struggled to consistently threaten the net. This side will look significantly different when the rest of the squad is available.
Katie Stengel is still in New York on loan, while Shanice van de Sanden has only just returned to training. New signing Mia Enderby was not given a run out, but it is not known why she wasn’t involved. Leanne Kiernan was pictured at training in the past week, and is likely being given time to fully heal after surgery and a long injury layoff last year. Melissa Lawley is out until November.
With Faye Kirby and loan and Teagan Micah just wrapping up her World Cup journey with Australia, veteran Rachael Laws was the only senior team goalkeeper on the roster for the opening friendly. While it is assumed Micah was signed to take over the starting gloves, Laws showed she is very much up for the battle. She made several crucial saves against Birmingham City, and looked more comfortable than in the past with the ball at her feet.
What Comes Next
Liverpool will take part in the MOS Women’s French Cup at the end of August. They will face off with Paris Saint-Germain Feminine on August 28th.