Darwen FC got the game underway at the Anchor Ground. The Lancashire side lined up in their red shirts, white shorts and red socks with Tranmere Rovers in their new all green away kit.
The opening stages was a cagey affair, but the tone was set early on when Darwen’s number 11 went into the book for a cynical foul on Rovers right back Elizabeth Roberts on the halfway line.
After that the game become very mixed with both teams pushing in the attacking third and with 14 minutes on the clock Anais Bathily was released down the right hand side but a tackle from a Darwen defender snuffed out the attack and from the resulting throw in Tranmere couldn’t create any real opportunity.
Four minutes later Tranmere went close again when Katie Bower Folan’s low shot was tipped around the post by the Darwen keeper before the crossbar was rattled twice in quick succession when another long range Rovers strike cannoned off the woodwork and fell to Anais Bathily whose delicate chip agonisingly hit the bar.
Minutes later it was Darwen’s chance to go close when their number 7 was found in space on the right side of the Tranmere penalty area, but she could only fire her shot wide of the target.
With the clock approaching the half hour mark Tranmere won a freekick in another promising position and after her set piece joy last week Bethan Woolley stood over the dead ball opportunity. This time instead of a curled effort Woolley drilled the ball hard and low past the wall and towards the bottom corner but the ball clipped the post and went to safety.
Tranmere continued to press but couldn’t find a breakthrough and the sides went in level at the halftime interval.
The second half got underway, and the green shirts of Tranmere started on the front foot mounting several attacks on the Darwen goal but to no avail. Darwen then grew into the game, and it became stretched in the middle of the park with neither side being able to fully control possession.
It was Darwen that broke that flow when they had an effort from range which drifted wide of the far post, but Katy Maddock looked to have had it covered. The game then becomes congested in the midfield again before Tranmere broke the rhythm of the game when they tried to release Pennington with a long ball which bypassed the midfield but there was too much zip on the ball and the attack faded away.
Darwen then had a freekick which was collected easily by Maddock before Anya McCready danced past three red shirts and unleashed a shot from range which was sent dipping and swerving towards the Lancastrians goal but dropped over the top of the bar.
That opportunity seemed to spark Tranmere back into life and five minutes from the time they finally got the breakthrough through non other than Bethan Woolley who had picked the ball up from 25 yards out after a free flowing Rovers move took a touch and unleashed a dipping shot right into the top corner of the net to send the travelling super white army into raptures.
They may have had the lead, but Tranmere weren’t going to sit back, and they went close again when midfield dynamo Ellie Doyle sent a shot just wide of the far post before Laura Pennington’s long range effort looped over the bar.
The game went into stoppage time and Tranmere managed to show great game management and see the game out to claim a crucial opening three points of the season much to the delight of manager Sam Irvine.
Up Next for the Ladies is Mossley Hill Ladies on Thursday 25th August at the Ellesmere Port Sport Village, 6:30pm Kick off.