For the past 7 weeks the FA Women’s Super League has been on a break for the European Championships, while the summer transfer window has also seen a few new arrivals.
European Championships 2013
Liverpool Ladies were represented by 4 players at this summer’s European Championship’s in Sweden.
Katrin Ómarsdóttir was part of Iceland’s squad that made it out of the group stage for the first time in their history.
Katrin started their first game against Norway on the bench and was brought on with 7 minutes to go as Iceland went in search of an equaliser. Shortly after her introduction Iceland were awarded a penalty which was coolly taken to give them a share of the points.
Germany were Iceland’s next challenge and proved to be a tough game. Katrin again started the game as a substitute but was brought on for the second half as they tried to bring some stability to the midfield. Unable to stem the leaky defence the Germans ran out 3-0 winners, this meant the winner of Iceland’s final group game against Holland would progress to the Quarter Finals. Once more Katrin found herself on the bench, yet this time was an unused substitute in the lively 1-0 win over the dutch which set up a Quarter Final with host nation Sweden.
The Swedes showed just why many tipped them as potential Euros winners as they swept Iceland aside with a 4-0 victory. Katrin sat this game out with a re-occurrence of the hamstring injury that kept her out of the derby in June.
In a stark contrast to Iceland, England endured a dismal campaign failing to get out of their group, a shock after reaching the final 4 years ago.
In their first group game against Spain the Lionesses were beaten 3-2, Spain’s winning goal coming in the 88th minute. For the next game against Russia coach Hope Powell made no changes to her starting 11. A goal down as the second half started, Powell sent on Everton‘s Toni Duggan and the brilliant yet half fit Kelly Smith. The substitutions changed the game with Duggan grabbing an injury time goal to gift England their first point and a lifeline going into the final game against France.
France had already qualified for the Quarter Finals and made 6 changes to their starting line up, while England – needing a win to progress – fielded 3 changes including giving Toni Duggan a well-deserved start. However the same problems dogged England from the start, with a lack of service to the two forwards Duggan and Arsenal‘s Ellen White, and England crashed out of the tournament embarrassingly early with a 3-0 defeat.
Liverpool’s Fara Williams played the full 90 minutes in each game, although in a slightly higher up position than the one she excels in for us. The reds defensive duo Gemma Bonner and Lucy Bronze did not manage to get on the pitch at all despite injuries prior to the tournament to 3 of the preferred back line. Lucy Bronze made a short but impressive debut in one of the friendlies leading up to the Euros while Liverpool captain Gemma Bonner has had a great season and the pair were in form going to Sweden.
Hope Powell has been criticised in the press for not trusting in England’s younger players and for her choice of substitutions, I can only echo what has been said there and I am especially disappointed at not seeing either Bronze or Bonner at any point of the 3 group games.
During the summer transfer window Matt Beard has once again seemingly been one of the busiest Women’s Super League managers. Four signings have officially been announced with rumours of more to come.
We have prised young defender Ellie Stewart from neighbours Everton and attacking midfielder Katie Zelem from Manchester United’s Centre of Excellence. The young pairing will be part of the England Under 19 squad looking to defend their Euros trophy in Wales this August.
Matt Beard has also added two new forwards to the squad; Kate Longhurst from Chelsea, who has played under Beard previously and scored for Chelsea in last seasons FA Cup Final, and New Zealand international Sarah Gregorius. Gregorius has joined from German side Bad Neuenahr and is well established at international level having represented New Zealand at last years Olympics, she has also scored 17 goals in 41 international appearances.
As well as adding to the squad a couple of players have been offloaded by the club including striker Lillie Fenlon-Billson to Lincoln Ladies. Billson has seen her playing time this season limited and her only goal came in her only start against Sunderland in the FA Cup.
Second Half of the Season
We now look forward to the second half of our season as the reds look to continue their fine run of form pre-Euros.
First up we face Arsenal at our home ground Halton Stadium, Widnes on Saturday 3rd August. The game kicks off at 7pm, if you are a season ticket holder at Anfield or you have a ticket to Steven Gerrard’s testimonial the same day this will gain you entry to the Ladies game for free. Alternatively tickets on the gate are just £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. BT Sport are screening the game live if you are unable to make it, along with our top of the table clash away at Bristol Academy a week later on 10th August.
We have played Arsenal twice this season, narrowly beaten by them in the FA Cup Semi Final at Anfield, and just a few weeks later at the Emirates we put the Gunners to the sword with a 4-0 win. This was Arsenal Ladies first league defeat in almost 2 years.
The Ladies also have their Continental Cup Semi Final sandwiched between the two league ties. We welcome Lincoln Ladies to Halton Stadium on Wednesday 7th August, tickets again available on the gate for the aforementioned prices and that game also kicks off at 7:30pm.
Thanks for reading July’s round up, very much looking forward to the remainder of the season and hope to see you at Halton for one of our games.
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