As tensions were winding up for the final match of the season for the men’s team, a day before and across the river, our Red Women were taking on Everton in the last match and the last Merseyside Derby for the season. Things have been wildly up and down this season, but to end things on a high note is the main goal, even as Liverpool are unlikely to finish higher than 8th in the FA WSL.
Thankfully, there was a huge crowd of nearly 2,000 (1,842 to be exact - the highest ever for a Liverpool Women’s game!) that made the trek to Prenton Park in Birkenhead and Liverpool were happy to perform, starting energetically. Everton took a chance early on and from 25 yards out, with a shot from Angharad James just going wide. Our ladies worked hard to make this a Derby worth remembering, and Laura Coombs was the first to step up and make an effort. At 16 minutes she fired from distance, only to see her effort hit the crossbar and then out.
It didn’t take long from there for the Reds to draw first blood, with two goals in five minutes both from Christie Murray’s specialty free kicks. Courtney Sweetman-Kirk took control of the first behind the Everton keeper to put the Reds in the lead but it was returning player Niamh Charles who made it two by picking up the second free kick of the afternoon and causing chaos in the Everton box - just enough to push it past for two.
Murray herself tried a great effort from distance shortly after but just barely missed. The Reds were able to mostly maintain control of the match from there on, but a corner from Abbey-Leigh Stringer would get the Blues on the board at the 39th minute. (Let’s maybe work on corners next year?)
Charles gets herself into a great position around the 44th minute and fires off a rocket of a shot just outside the box but it’s barely cleared by the Everton keeper Kirstie Levell and deflected around the post.
The second half started with Everton pressing hard to find an equalizer and they take a chance early on with Hannah Caine firing from distance but it doesn’t find the target. Liverpool were on the hunt for their third of the afternoon, and space opened up for Coombs to force herself into the box around the 53rd minute but Levell saves the shot well.
Rinsola Babajide, who had come on at halftime for Yana Daniels, did her best to make her mark on the left side of the pitch on Saturday, truly threatening Everton with her dribbling and pace. Both teams continued to fight for dominance throughout the second half, but things wouldn’t get very dangerous until the last fifteen minutes of the match. Babajide is able to beat out one player to get into the Everton box but is dealt with quickly.
It would be 83 minutes when Babajide would set up Sweetman-Kirk nicely but the leading goal scorer can’t get to it quick enough to make something of it. The third, of course, would come at 88 minutes on, with 18 year old Amy Rodgers setting up at the back post to slide in a corner from (who else?) but Christie Murray and the game would end with a comfortable win for Liverpool.
The season is over and with loads of new foundations built, things can only get better from here - as they will get tougher with the introductions of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United Women’s teams both earning promotion to the top tier of the FA WSL.
The summer is long, though, and things are looking good for our Reds.