Liverpool Ladies have faced a difficult start to their 2014 campaign, with injuries to key players and defeat to Everton Ladies in the quarter-finals of The FA Cup. In April Liverpool won 2, drawn 2 and lost 1 of their opening games and May followed the same pattern.
Despite this they head into the mid season break sitting 4th in the league table, just 2 points off leaders Birmingham City. Throughout the top division of the Women’s Super League many teams have strengthened leading to a number of close results, Birmingham sit in 1st on 6 points after 4 games played while Arsenal hold up the bottom of the table with just 1 point after 3 league defeats.
Having failed to score in their last three outings, Liverpool unleashed all the frustrations of the derby defeats and two goalless draws on a Sunderland Ladies side flying high in the second tier of the Women’s Super League.
Gemma Davison and Claudia Walker working well on the wings to create openings in the Sunderland defence, the former scoring her first goal in a red shirt after a brilliantly taken strike from outside the 18-yard box.
Davison turned provider just minutes later, setting up left-back Corina Schroder who tapped in from yards out.
Natasha Dowie then netted a hat-trick, flicking the ball into the back of the net from a Fara Williams corner after losing her marker. 5 minutes later the England striker had doubled her tally, excellently turning the defender and controlling the ball with her first touch before finishing from just inside the 18-yard box.
Dowie completed her hat-trick in the second-half after Williams again picked her out with an inch-perfect pass, one touch was all the reds leading scorer needed to score her 5th goal of the season. Katrin Omarsdottir finished off the scoring for Liverpool, scrambling the ball home from close range after a cross from Lucy Bronze.
A week and a half later and following an international break in which Natasha Dowie scored twice for England in their World Cup qualifier against Ukraine, Liverpool made the short trip to the Etihad to face Manchester City at their home ground for the first time.
After coming under early pressure from the City attack, Izzy Christianson‘s cross was cleared only as far as Abbie McManus who arrived to score the first goal Liverpool‘s new No.1 Libby Stout has conceded.
Liverpool almost took the lead before half-time, a through ball forward from Gemma Bonner finding Katrin Omarsdottir who’s shot was blocked by Karen Bardsley – the rebound falling to Claudia Walker but again the shot was blocked, this time by England captain Steph Houghton.
It was City that came away from the cup game with all 3 points, Jill Scott teeing up Izzy Christianson who finished past Stout from outside the box.
Liverpool have two remaining Continental Cup games, away at Durham WFC on Sunday 6th July and then at home to Doncaster Belles on Saturday 12th July. There are 3 groups of 6 in the group stages of the competition, with the winner of each and the best runner-up progressing to the semi-finals.
Women’s Super League
Notts County 0 – 0 Liverpool Ladies
Back in league action for the first time in almost a month, Liverpool‘s first ever away game at Notts County seen few chances and was mainly a battle fought in midfield.
Natasha Dowie had perhaps Liverpool‘s best chance of the game, attempting to chip keeper Carly Telford after being set up by Corina Schroder but the shot went narrowly over.
Libby Stout was in fine form in goal for the reds, saving well from a Jess Clarke strike destined for the top corner. Gemma Bonner also had her work cut out at the back, with Notts attacking front three of Clarke, Dunia Susi and Desiree Clarke combining well yet failing to find the breakthrough.
Liverpool Ladies 1 – 1 Birmingham City
For the final game before the break Champions League semi-finalists Birmingham City came to Widnes hoping to extend their lead at the top of the table.
It was Liverpool who started the more brightly of the two, an early Fara Williams free kick was only just pushed wide by Becky Spencer.
Against the run of play Birmingham took the lead after the referee judged Libby Stout had fouled Jade Moore just inside the area and Karen Carney scored from the resulting corner.
In the second-half Liverpool themselves were awarded a penalty when Hannah Dale was fouled in the box, the development squad midfielder making her first start for the reds in place of the injured Katrin Omarsdottir. Fara Williams stepped up to score her first goal of the season and to get an important point for Liverpool ahead of the second half of the season.
On Thursday 8th May, England took on Ukraine in a World Cup qualifier. Maintaining their unbeaten start to the qualifiers they beat Ukraine 4-0 with a brace from Liverpool striker Natasha Dowie and a double from Chelsea‘s Eni Aluko. Lucy Bronze and Fara Williams also started for the Lionesses, with the latter earning her 127th cap – just 2 short of equalling the all-time record set by Rachel Yankey and 3 short of becoming the most capped England player of all-time.
The result means England top their group with 18 points from 6 wins, scoring 33 goals and conceding 0.
In Group 3 Katrin Omarsdottir and Iceland sit 2nd behind Switzerland, Omarsdottir was a second-half substitute during May’s game against the Swiss coming on at 2-0 down – the game finished 3-0.
Liverpool Ladies’ development squad season runs from October to May, the reds are just finishing up their league campaign with just the postponed clash against Durham away remaining.
As mentioned in April’s round-up five development squad players have made the step-up to the first-team in 2014, plugging the gaps left by the injury crisis with ease and each impressing. Megan Alexander and Ellie Stewart have made appearances from the bench, while Claudia Walker, Ashley Hodson and Hannah Dale have each earned spots in the starting 11.
Waiting in the wings is also a host of talented young players, to name just a few – centre-back Shannon Beckwith, attacking right-back Olivia Wild and the versatile forward Bethany Donoghue who is the teams top scorer with 8 strikes in 21 games.
The development squad finished off their season with a cup final against Arsenal Ladies, narrowly beaten by 1-0 an Arsenal side only minutes from time. Congratulations to the team and the coaching staff on a great cup run and a brilliant season, the future talent for Liverpool Ladies is promising!
For a full mid season review please follow the link below for all fixtures and results, attendances and goals, season awards so far, and a more in depth review of the development squad season:
Thanks for reading, @LFCladiesfans