Rovers Ladies started their season with an impressive 2-0 victory away to Stoke City.
Goals in quick succession from Lynda Shepherd and Saffron Jordan just past the half-hour mark secured the points for Gemma Donnelly’s side.
Rovers had a strong claim for a penalty on seven minutes when good work down the left by Jordan saw the ball pulled back to Ainsley Strickland, whose shot hit the arm of a defender in the box, but the referee waved away the appeals.
The visitors then had the first chance of the match on the quarter-hour mark when an excellent through ball by Jordon saw full-back Kelsey Pearson get in behind, but from a tight angle, she could only shoot straight at the keeper.
Rovers thought they had opened the scoring when Danielle Whitham picked out the bottom corner, only to be ruled out for offside.
On 32 minutes, Rovers finally broke the deadlock. Strickland’s shot was again blocked by a Stoke arm and this time the referee pointed to the spot. Shepherd stepped and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way.
Five minutes later and Rovers doubled their lead in sensational style. Having received the ball wide on the left, Jordan beat one marker before cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable curling strike into the top right corner from 30 yards out.
The start of the second half would see Rovers presented with three golden opportunities to put the game firmly to bed. Firstly, Shepherd played a perfectly-weighted through ball to Jordan, who couldn’t quite connect cleanly and her shot was cleared for a corner. Two minutes later, the lively Jordan was again played through, but after rounding the keeper, her shot was cleared off the line. Rovers found space again soon after, as debutant Georgia Stevens raced through on goal, but she fired straight at the keeper and then failed to convert the rebound.
After several long-range efforts from both sides, Stoke should have pulled a goal back five minutes from time, but Danielle Hill and Ellie Cook combined to block two efforts in quick succession, before Hill made a superb save to keep out the follow-up.
ROVERS: Hill, Pearson, Cook, Macdonald, Flynn (Taylor 56), Shepherd, McCoy (Stevens 58), Jordan, Strickland, Whitham.
Subs not used: Maher, Fenton, Bickett.