Magee nets to mark Perry's return to Blues duty with an opening night win
Linfield Ladies manager Phil Lewis has revealed how long-term injury victim Lauren Perry made an earlier than expected return as the Blues commenced the new Danske Bank Women's Premiership season with Wednesday night's defeat of Sion Swifts.
The defending champions, who claimed the points courtesy of Abbie Magee's 17th minute strike, were forced into a pre-match reshuffle when goalkeeper Nicole Adams had to withdraw, meaning Perry - who underwent cruciate surgery in September - was called upon to don her gloves again.
"We didn't have ideal preparation for the game," admits Lewis, whose side had suffered County Antrim Cup elimination at Cliftonville's hands 48 hours earlier.
"Our goalkeeper Nicole Adams was sick during the day so, prior to kick-off, Lauren Perry had the opportunity to step into goals after returning from a ACL knee injury. She had a number of saves but wasn't really well worked.
"Sion's goalkeeper Nicole McClure was the best player on the pitch. I was happy with the chances we created in wide areas however we couldn't get the second goal. Abbie Magee scored a really good goal on the turn that was the difference.
"It was massively important to get the win and I'd like to reference the defeat to Cliftonville in the County Antrim Cup on Monday - I think that defeat made us more determined to get the win.
"When the lead is just one goal, one mistake can change the game. We held out and did well against strong opponents."
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At the Oval, meanwhile, Glentoran Women got off to a flying start with a 6-0 victory over newly promoted Comber Rec Ladies.
Four goals to the good at half-time courtesy of doubles from Kelly Bailie and Rachel Rogan, the Glens booked their status as the table's first leaders with Demi Vance making it 5-0 before Bailie completed her hat-trick.
"It was a great start, we scored after around 30 minutes and that settled us and we added another three before the break," said general manager Billy Clarke.
"It was a satisfying performance and I have to give Comber credit, it was their first match in the league and they did very well. It's a league win and a nice start and we are delighted to be top of the table. If we are top in another five weeks, I'll be even more delighted. We'll take each match as it comes and see where that takes us."
In the game at Seaview, Crusaders Strikers got Spike Hill's reign off to a winning start when first-half goals from Julie Nelson and Danielle McDowell earned a 2-0 win against Derry City Ladies.