Today a group of young Lionesses were given a great treat thanks to winning a competition ran by the Cumberland FA. The girls got to go and see our Sister Club the Durham FC Wildcats play the all star Liverpool FC Ladies and be Mascots & Ball Girls at the fantastic facilities at Penrith FC.
Both Durham Wildcats and Liverpool FC have enjoyed very positive pre-seasons and it was a real treat to have both teams come to Cumbria to not only play a football game but inspire a set of girls locally in what is a rural area where this type of high quality ladies football tends to involve many hours of travel to go and see.
When the girls arrived at Penrith FC they were greeted by Ray Sempill who looked after the young Lionesses during the day and made them feel comfortable and have fun. They were all talked through their important roles of getting balls back to the teams when they went out of play, and also how they were to be really good mascots for both teams. They then met up with the fantastic Jess Nelson who is a massive driver of Girls and Woman's Football in Cumbria and who was instrumental in making this day happen, although from the above photo maybe a little camera shy.
The Lionesses then got to meet up with a Durham FC Players in the tunnel who chatted with them before they went out onto the pitch to begin the game, led by Durham FC Captain Sarah Wilson, who is always a class act with the girls who are now forming a real bond with Durham FC after being their Sister Club last season and will be again next season.
In the first half it was a very even affair early on, the reds tried to break the deadlock with Courtney Swertman-Kirk twice being denied by the Durham FC's new Goalkeeper Hannah Reid, one of which was point blank which she magnificently saved and pushed onto the crossbar, Hannah Reid had an exceptional game and commanded very well throughout. However before the half hour mark C.Murray skipped into the area and went around several Durham players before being brought down and the Referee pointed to the spot, which C.Murray slotted away from the spot. Durham had chances to bring it back and after some neat build up the classy Zoe Ness played in Superstar Beth Hepple who took it past one but the ball got caught under her feet just as she was about the unleash a ferocious shot.
Half time was called and the girls got a special treat and went onto the pitch to take penalties against one of the Durham FC Wildcats Goalkeeper Megan Borthwick.
Also at Half Time the Cumberland FA held a Facebook Live Draw for the CFA Woman's League Cup Draw, Ash Hodson from Liverpool FC Ladies would draw the away teams and Eden Clark from Whitehaven AFC would draw the Home teams, the draw ended with the following games, Whitehaven AFC getting a home draw;
Whitehaven AFC V Stanwix FC
Kendal Town FC V Crown Newlaithes FC
Workington Reds Diamonds V Penrith AFC Rubies
Vickerstown FC V Seaton Ladies
Into the second half and with Liverpool 1-0 they were pushing for the second, but Durham were always a concern on the break with Nicki Gears & Emily Roberts combining well and the former firing narrowly wide. However a fantastic corner from Liverpool shortly after resulted in the very impressive Jess Clarke heading in from close range to make it 2-0. The game continued to be quite close with Beth Hepple tested the goalkeeper from a long range free kick but it was Liverpool who would score the final goal after a quick one-two led to Laura Combs netting the third, the game finishing 3-0 to Liverpool.
The young Lionesses then got to meet the Liverpool FC Ladies & Durham FC Wildcats after the game for selfies and autographs. Both sets of Woman really throwing themselves in and seeing every single fan, which was amazing to see and the Whitehaven AFC Lioness were starstruck.
Rob Campbell Lead Coach for the Lionesses said 'I'm very thankful to Jess Nelson who has did fantastic to bring such high quality ladies football to Cumbria, and all the Cumberland FA Staff for their work on the game prior to it and during it, especially Ray Sempill who looked after us all day. For me Girl's & Woman's Football is moving in the right direction but still needs lots of care and attention and events like this will go a long way to not only inspiring young girls to take up the beautiful game but also motivate current players to follow their dreams.
I must paid tribute firstly to the Durham Ladies for once again being amazing with our girls, our girls are really starting to follow some of the players more and more now after being a Sister Club last year and again this year and they should be applauded for the time they give up to chat and pose for photos and autographs.
Also I must say how incredible the Liverpool Ladies were, a revamped side with lots of great new players in as well as some cracking players from previous seasons and they played really well, and again at the end they looked after all the Lionesses and stopped until every fan got a picture or autograph.
I'd like to wish both teams the very best for next season and once again thank the Cumberland FA for arranging this event and Penrith FC for hosting it'.