Liverpool Ladies ended their 2016 season in disappointing fashion as two late goals from Arsenal Ladies denied them a draw on the final weekend.
England international Danielle Carter scored twice for the opponents as Liverpool ended the season on the wrong end of the high-scoring 5-3 result.
Satara Murray put the hosts in front but Carter’s double and three further strikes from Arsenal were enough to cancel out Shanice van de Sanden and Caroline Weir’s goals.
The result meant Liverpool Ladies finished the season in fifth place — dead middle of the table— in the Women’s Super League, though they were 17 points off unbeaten champions, Manchester City Women.
It’s been an up and down year for the Merseysiders who have struggled to gain consistency under new boss Scott Rogers but have demonstrated potential on a number of occasions.
We take a look at some of the highs and lows of this season and where they can improve upon for next year after securing a mid-table finish.
The Reds had a number of close encounters but they burst into life at the mid-way point of the season when they secured an emphatic 4-0 away victory against Sunderland AFC Ladies.
It would kick-start their brightest spell of the season between May and July when the Ladies went seven games unbeaten, picking up four victories and three draws.
They even recorded back-to-back draws against Man City conceding just the one goal on the road against the league champions.
Rogers’ sisde also enjoyed success in the Merseyside derby as they clinched a 1-0 victory against local rivals, Everton in the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup first round in July.
Prior to the Ladies’ unbeaten spell, Liverpool suffered a tough start to the season as they picked up just one victory in their opening six fixtures.
Chelsea Ladies inflicted the most damage, recording two victories over the Reds in the space of two weeks as Rogers’ side also picked up a loss against Notts County to make it three defeats on the bounce.
The Blues finished the season in second place, five points off Man City Women and they demonstrated their quality on both occasions against Liverpool.
The most disappointing encounter against Chelsea was the clash that took place at Staines in May and saw Liverpool Ladies net three goals past the hosts. However, Chelsea were ruthless and replied with six goals of their own in a truly thrilling match between the two sides.
Not the result we wanted but I could not be prouder of the players & staff. This group has a lot of potential and an exciting future. #YNWA?
— Scott Rogers (@ScottRogers86) November 7, 2016
Where Reds can improve next season
Rodgers’ side struggled to keep clean sheets – clinching just six in all competitions throughout the season and it is certainly something they will hope to improve upon next season.
In their opening six fixtures, Liverpool Ladies conceded 15 goals, including eight against Chelsea during two head-to-head clashes and three against Notts County.
It was perhaps their defensive frailties which prevented Liverpool Ladies getting results against the top teams in the league.
Speaking after the game against Arsenal, forward Kate Longhurst told the club’s official website, “It was a good game for the fans, good for the neutral but not good for us. I think there are a lot of positives in there, but we’ve conceded five pretty sloppy goals.
“We left ourselves a little too open but some were sloppy mistakes that we just shouldn’t make. When we do that against teams like Arsenal, they’re going to punish you.
“It’s a positive going forward in terms of scoring goals, but it’s obvious what the negatives are.”
One thing Rogers’ side can take forward though, is that his side were ruthless against the bottom teams in the table and ensured they made the most of games against Doncaster Rovers Belles, Sunderland AFC Ladies and Reading FC Women.
In the six fixtures against the bottom three sides, Liverpool Ladies notched up 16 points from a possible 18 – proving their dominance.
A mid-table finish is perhaps a good indication of where the Reds are currently at but some defensive solidity and added firepower in front of goal will certainly give Liverpool Ladies a boost up the league table.
LFC Ladies 2016
League Position: Fifth
Player of the Year – Siobhan Chamberlain
Top Goalscorer – Caroline Weir (Six goals in 19 games)
One to watch out for next season – Shanice van de Sanden