Liverpool Ladies 2-1 Villa Ladies: Fine display despite defeat
Villa Ladies put in a very solid performance as they went down 2-1 to Liverpool Ladies, who won the title last time out.
The pre-season programme continued apace with this away game providing perfect preparation for the Women's Super League 2 campaign ahead.
Villa Ladies defended well in the early stages as Liverpool Ladies attempted to pile on the pressure.
But the visitors took the lead in the 38th minute when centre-half Jade Richards nipped in between defender and keeper to slot home a superbly-weighted centre from former Liverpool Ladies forward Chloe Jones.
But three minutes later, the hosts were level.
Richards's headed clearance hit the back of skipper Dani Petrovic and the ball ricocheted to keeper Caitlin Leach, who failed to hold and could only watch in disbelief as the ball found the net.
Villa Ladies mixed things up as the second half began with Alicia Robinson, Maddy Cusack and Sarah Mayling all entering the fray.
The young lions held their own but the class of the Women's Super League 1 side told in the end as they grabbed a winner.
England international Fara Williams was instrumental in the goal, picking the ball up on the halfway line before finding midfield partner Katrin Omarsdottir who finished superbly.
Villa Ladies went close twice before the end, Sherry McCue's fierce drive being well saved and Jones seeing a cracking strike loop into the keeper's arms.
Head Coach Joe Hunt said: "Ron and I were very pleased with the level of performance from the team.
"Liverpool Ladies are an outstanding team, full of senior internationals and players with experience of playing at the top level in England.
"As you'd expect their manager Matt Beard has them playing some exciting football. But our girls stood up to the challenge and competed exceptionally well.
"We knew we'd have to weather the storm and concede a lot of possession.
"We reduced Liverpool Ladies to shots from distance and gradually grew into the game.
"Our goal came from us winning the ball back ,working the ball to Livy Fergusson, who went on one of her flying runs to get a free kick in a dangerous area. Chloe Jones's ball was exceptional as was Jade Richards's run and determination to get on the end of it.
"The equaliser was cruel on us. We'd defended so well for 40 minutes but sometimes that happens when the other team put you under so much pressure.
"The second goal was a bad one for us to give away, especially when we'd identified the threat at half time and then we switched off.
"If you let Fara Williams have a free pass anywhere on the pitch she will destroy you and that's what she did.
"We'll take the positives from the display and work hard in training this week for another tough away trip to Man City Ladies.
"Ron has created a fantastic environment for the girls to play in. They are following instructions in training and on a matchday which is showing in their performances.
"We are getting closer to our opening league game against Doncaster Belles and I think we'll be in good shape by the April 16."
Emma Follis [dead leg] and Katy Moran [back] both missed the game but will return to training this week. Alicia Robinson was forced off and the medical staff will assess her this week.
Villa Ladies: Leach, Vaughan, Walker, McCue, Petrovic, Richards, Fergusson, Stringer, Davies, Jones, Merrick. Subs: Robinson, Mayling, Cusack.
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