The development team made it a double weekend win in the cup for the youth teams with a hard fought 3-1 win at Liverpool Ladies.
It was a tough game played in extreme conditions; there was heavy rain and a strong wind that just diverted the ball flight in the air making it hard for the goalkeepers and defenders to adjust their position on crosses and corners.
Liverpool Ladies development team are a quality side and you certainly would like to see more games played against them with that high intensity level as it prepares the youngsters for first team football.
Some league games are not hard and intense enough for the girls and some of them might be better off being loaned like goalkeeper Hollie Augustus who gets regular games in the FA WPL with Lewes Ladies.
The starting 11 for that tough away game was actually a bit reshuffled from the previous ones with a strong emphasis on attacking and some players moved around from their usual position. The coach selected the following:
Sian Rogers, Jessica Driscoll Lucy Parker Chiara Ritchie-Williams Philllipa Cowley, Lotte Wubben-Moy Georgia Allen Rianna Dean, Chloe Kelly Evie Clarke Charlotte Devlin.
England international Fara Williams is coming back from injury and got a run out with the Liverpool side, she started the game and played about half an hour before being subbed. It is always good for the youngsters to face someone of her quality in a game.
Arsenal played the first half facing the strong wind and it was quite a tight and even game, both sides created chances but play was mostly restricted to the midfield area for most of it. Arsenal had very much an attacking side with five forward thinking player and Wubben-Moy the lone defensive midfielder in front of the back four.
There were some scary moments because the defensive transition was not great with up to five players in front of the ball at a time and they weren’t always there to help the defense. The positive side of this was those players were able to find space behind the Liverpool defense. It’s not easy to find the right balance, especially in those kind of games.
It was the type of game where it was so tight that you knew the first team to score was likely to win it. Tackles were flying as the game was very competitive, and with the wet pitch, they were sliding all over the place.
Liverpool nearly scored right at the end of the first half following a mix up and a scramble in the Arsenal defense but Driscoll made a goal saving tackle and hurt herself as she slid in and hit the post. She came back with a bandage for the second half.
The positive thing about the development team this season is we have a lot of winners who have strong characters and personalities, they are feisty – even sometimes excessively so. The captain Clarke showed strong leadership calming down players, Allen re-organised things during a break with Kelly and Wubben-Moy also providing leadership.
At half time, the coach made a substitution with Cowley who was replaced by Brunton-Wilde. She went at number six in front of the defender. Driscoll moved from right back to left back, Ritchie Williams from centre back to right back and Wubben-Moy moved from defensive midfield to center back alongside Parker.
Arsenal played the second half with the wind’s help, the rain stopped for a little bit, then started again, keeping the playing conditions difficult.
Then the first goal came quickly at the 50th minute. Clarke managed to beat the left back and put a cross in for Dean who finished from six yards and scored the all important opener. From there the girls could start operating on the break and start finding passes behind Liverpool’s defence.
Three minutes after the opener, Devlin was sent through and beat Derbyshire to give the Arsenal some breathing space. 2-0 and Arsenal were now in control, sending through ball to the channels.
Seven minutes after the first goal, Arsenal scored a third on the break again. Ritchie Williams won the ball in the right back area, went past a player and sent a delightful crossfield pass to Kelly on the left wing. The forward went straight towards the goal and round her defender to finish with powerful left foot shot from 13 yards. 3-0 game over?
Liverpool fought back with the game getting increasingly physical and the referee giving a few yellow cards for kicking and dissent. They got one goal back from a superb move from right to the left where the ball was flicked to Pacheco who scored with a low shot. 3-1 and all to play for.
The Liverpool goalkeeper could have been sent off as Clarke was sent through, she went past Derbyshire who kicked her sending her on the floor for a free kick outside the penalty area. Clear DOGSO for me, but, same as the u17 game on Saturday, it wasn’t given and the goalkeeper received a yellow card.
No more goals were scored and it ended 3-1 and a huge win for the Development team that should help them grow their confidence and certainly give them hope for the double this season.
Those tough games as important as you can see those players who are ready to raise their level and could potentially make the first team like Williamson, Sampson and Humphrey have done in the previous seasons.