Heather Carroll provides her comprehensive monthly review of the Liverpool FC Ladies.
For the majority of June the Women’s Super League was on it’s annual mid-season break, Liverpool Ladies had endured a tough start to the season with a number of first-team players struggling with injury problems. Despite this they went into the break having conceded just one goal in their opening four league matches, leaving themselves in 4th place with a month to prepare for the second round of games.
Liverpool Ladies have invested a lot of time into the youth set-up at the club over the last couple of years, as mentioned in May’s round-up the development squad were narrowly beaten in their cup final and have seen no less than 7 players make the step-up to the first-team.
The day following the development squad’s cup final defeat, Liverpool’s U17 side travelled to Milton Keynes for The FA Youth Cup final where they would face Everton Ladies U17s in a mini-derby.
Running out 1-0 winners on the day, Matty Campbell‘s young side created a whole host of opportunities throughout the 80 minutes. During the first-half Jessica Davenport and Tash Rothery combined well on the left, Davenport making an early run into the 18-yard box but seeing her strike deflected out for a corner.
Rachel Robinson and captain Olivia Fuller were solid in defence throughout, providing cover to no.1 Rachel Darbyshire who was calm in goal for the reds and confident in commanding her back line. Like the senior side, the U17s had their full-backs pushing high up the pitch with Maz Gillam impressing in particular on the left.
England youth international Kess Elmore was the stand-0ut player on the day, making a number of foraging runs forward and being rewarded for her hard work with the cup winning goal.
During the break England Women continued their unbeaten World Cup qualification, wins away at both Belarus and Ukraine mean the lionesses need just 1 point from their final 2 group games to qualify for the tournament next summer in Canada.
Three reds featured for England, Lucy Bronze started both games and scored her first international goal in the 3-0 victory over Belarus. The reds defender and PFA Player of the Year made her England début just 1 year ago and has cemented a place in the starting 11.
Natasha Dowie also started in Belarus, yet was an unused substitute 5 days later in Ukraine.
Fara Williams equalled the all-time caps record for an England international when she stepped out against Ukraine, Williams equalled the record set only last year by Arsenal‘s Rachel Yankey and has now made an impressive 129 international appearances. England’s next game is a home friendly against Sweden in August, where the record should be broken.
Compared to last summer when Liverpool brought in four new signings, the year has been relatively quiet. The reds sole summer signing is Denmark U23 international Nina Frausing Pedersen who joins from University of California in the United States. Pedersen will wear no.2 for Liverpool and can play either as a holding midfielder or at centre-back giving manager Matt Beard a number of options.
— Liverpool Ladies FC (@LFCladies) June 10, 2014
It was also announced that development squad left-back Megan Alexander will join WSL2’s Oxford WFC on a 3-month long loan deal. Alexander has been instrumental in the success of the squad during their season and the move will give her a great opportunity to gain playing time at a higher level. At the time of joining Oxford sat bottom of the league’s lower tier, however as Alexander made her début against Durham WFC the side picked up the first win of their campaign to move into 9th position.
Back in action
Liverpool Ladies 0-1 Arsenal Ladies
Liverpool Ladies returned to league action on Sunday 29th June with a visit from Arsenal Ladies. Arsenal arrived in Widnes without a manager after Shelley Kerr resigned prior to the break and sitting bottom of the league on 1 point, yet having won The FA Cup 4 weeks ago.
Despite a number of early openings with both Natasha Dowie and Amanda DaCosta heading wide, Liverpool struggled to break down the Gunners defence. Lucy Bronze went closest to opening the scoring with a 25-yard strike forcing Emma Byrne to tip the ball over the crossbar.
It was Arsenal who broke the deadlock in the second-half, Casey Stoney scrambling the ball home following a Rachel Yankey corner.
Nina Pedersen made her debut as the reds went in search of an equaliser, Frausing also finding fellow second-half sub Claudia Walker with a great cross – Walker’s shot was blocked by the Arsenal defender.
The game finished 1-0 to Arsenal Ladies for Liverpool’s first league defeat in 2014, yet despite the loss there are positives that the reds can take from the game. Katie Zelem returned from an injury which has so far prevented her from playing this year, the young midfielder demonstrating why Liverpool brought her to the club from Manchester United’s Centre of Excellence last summer.
Danielle Gibbons also had a good game in goal for Liverpool, saving well in the first-half from Danielle Carter while Lucy Bronze had a fantastic game – spending the majority of the 90 minutes in her preferred right-back position.
Up next for Liverpool Ladies they will travel to Durham WFC in the Continental Cup on Sunday 6th July, below you can find a list of upcoming fixtures for July. All Anfield season ticket holders are granted free entry to all home games (played at Select Stadium, Widnes), alternatively tickets can be purchased online or on the day at £5 adults and £2.50 concessions. Hope to see you at a game!
Follow me: @LFCladiesfans
Liverpool Ladies July fixtures:
06/07/14 Durham WFC v Liverpool Ladies, 2:00pm
12/07/14 Liverpool Ladies v Doncaster Belles, 6;30pm
16/07/14 Liverpool Ladies v Everton Ladies, 6:30pm
19/07/14 Bristol Academy v Liverpool Ladies, 6:00pm
27/07/14 Manchester City Women v Liverpool Ladies, 2:00pm