The injury hit Whitehaven Lionesses played an excellent Penrith side on Wednesday and although the Lionesses did their very best it just wasn’t enough to stop a Perfect Passing Penrith side.
The Lionesses had the most difficult build up to the match possible this week but pulled together to play and show we want to enjoy the matches firstly and try and develop as much as we can. The Lionesses lost a number of players, including star defender Clair Coyles for 3 month with knee injury, defensive partner Kathryn Ambrose broke her wrist the evening before and her season is likely to be over, the ever present midfield partnership of Bethan Murray & Sophie May were lost to illness & work as well as other casualties including the Lionesses Goalkeeper and tricky Winner Kelsey Hunter.
However midfielder and rugby player Elsa Whelan bravely stood up to go on goal for the team and grew more and more as the game went on, making her team and coaches extremely proud of her. Striker Megan Batey & 16yr old Morgan McGrady partnered in midfield to try and feed returning Captain Lauren Dye upfront.
The Lionesses unfortunately found themselves down 3-0 however within 7 minutes as they tried to find their shape, the first one a looping free kick which the Lionesses goalkeeper couldn’t quite reach, followed by 2 further well taken goals after very good build up play that cut through the Whitehaven side.
Shannon Rumney playing her first game for the team in the heart of the defence though started to show her quality both on the ball and as a leader at the back communicating to the team really well. Elsa Whelan in goal started to build some confidence which also started to feed through the team and the team started to find their feet, with first Lauren Dye getting in a good position to rifle a shot away on 10 minutes followed by Megan Batey tricking her way through the Penrith side with good footwork to get a shot away, which she followed up with another shortly after.
Penrith were still causing the Lionesses trouble and some of their passing moves were exquisite and a real pleasure to watch with Claire Blackburn & Amy Robinson causing all sorts of problems, however both Samantha Atkinson & debutant Taylor Crickett were doing excellent at the back. Eventually though the good attacks the Penrith Rubies built up led to another fantastic goal to go 4-0 up from another free kick won from good play.
Into the second half and an unlucky mistake led to an OG from the corner, which put Penrith 5-0 up. That goal shook the Lionesses and before they could gather their composure a further goal went in to make it 6-0. Once again though the Lionesses showed they will not give in and started to press back with Lauren Dye going 1v1 with the Penrith keeper Megan Chambers, who did magnificently to stop Lauren first, followed by the follow up from another onrushing Lioness.
The game settled back down and was fairly even for a while before Penrith broke through again to make it 7-0. The Lionesses finished strongly though and ended with good pressure and a couple of shots which they were unlucky not to score from.
Coaches Rob Campbell & Gary Wright said ‘Its been a bit of a nightmare week this week to be honest with injuries, illness & work commitments. To be fair on one hand we really gutted for the lasses especially with some of the bad injuries and illnesses we had, but on the other hand, the togetherness, grit and desire the lasses who played showed us made us really proud and the support from the absent players was really good.
This Penrith side have been the best football playing team we have played so far this season. They instinctively seemed to know where each other were and their players were a joy to watch really with their movements and we totally take our hat off to them and really wish them well going forward, good bunch of lasses in the team.
We are trying to not just measure our success by results alone this season with it being our first, and we looking towards individual & team successes based on how we play, Samantha Atkinson is an excellent example of this who has went from a make safe defender to trusting we want her to embrace the football and she has now got her foot on it and trying to play out which makes us extremely happy. This isn’t just one person though and we seeing improvements every game with everyone.’
Lionesses Player of the Match voted for by Penrith Rubies Coaches - Morgan McGrady.
Morgan although one of our youngest players, kept busy throughout and built a good understanding with Megan over the game, her quality offered Whitehaven some good chances.
Penrith Player of the Match voted for by Lionesses Coaches - Claire Blackburn.
Claire & Amy Robinson Robinson were amazing all game but Claire was a nightmare to mark and constantly found space and exploited it, plus she got a deserved hat trick.
Lionesses Player of the Match voted for by Lionesses Coaches - Samantha Atkinson.
Samantha really took a big step forward in what we asking the whole team to try and do. Her positional since was class, she won balls really well and was very calm, with good control and playing out really well.
Goalscorers Penrith Rubies
Claire Blackburn x3
Zoe Glendinning x2