Liverpool FC came into their second to last game with really only one thing left to play for — finishing third in the table. Liverpool traveled to Sheffield United tied on points with their opponents, but behind on goal differential by one goal.
Amber Whiteley was missing Jade Bailey and Ashley Hodson through injury, along with the long term injury to Rachel Furness. Rylee Foster was given the opportunity in net over Rachael Laws, and Ceri Holland was again left on the bench despite the stellar start to her Liverpool career. The Reds captain, Niamh Fahey, started the game in a holding midfield role rather than her usual center back position. Liverpool only had enough healthy bodies to field 4 players on the bench.
Kirsty Linnett forced a strong save in just the third minute. Niamh Fahey won the ball back 25 yards from goal, with Linnett picking up the scraps, turning, and ripping a shot. Sheffield United’s keeper, Fran Kitching, dove to her left to parry the ball, and the rebound fell into the path of Amalie Thestrup. The follow up shot from the Dane didn’t have much power on it, and was right at the keeper for an easy save.
Melissa Lawley showed some nifty footwork down the left side, and managed to get a shot off. Kitching was again up to the task, getting low and holding the ball well.
The game became a back and fort affair, with neither team able to carve out many clear cut opportunities as the first half progressed. Sheffield United got the ball into the box several times, but Liverpool’s defenders were quick to step up and win the ball back. Liverpool were also able to successfully defend several corner kicks.
In the 22nd minute, Leighanne Robe made a poor challenge at the top of her box, and the referee immediately pointed to the spot to award a penalty. Kate Wilkinson stepped up to take it, but put the ball just wide of the post. Rylee Foster dove the right way, and it looked like she would have saved it had the shot been on target.
Bo Kearns began to influence the game with her passing more and more. She played a wonderful ball to spring Amy Rodgers on the right side of the box, but Rodgers got caught in two minds between shooting or squaring the ball, and ended up hitting a tame shot right at the keeper.
GOAL LIVERPOOL!!!! Kirsty Linnett did the yoeman’s work after receiving the ball from Melissa Lawley, twisting and turning down the left side of the box before drilling the ball across the face of goal from the end line. The ball squeezed passed the keeper to Amalie Thestrup, who was waiting on the goal line to sweep the ball into the net in the 30th minute.
Liverpool came inches away from doubling their lead in the 45th minute. Melissa Lawley again beat a player down the left side of the box before drilling the ball across the face of goal. Bo Kearns got on the end of the ball and dropped it into the path of Amy Rodger with a deft touch. Rodgers shot took a slight deflection and ended just on the outside of the post for a corner kick. The resulting corner was headed wide as the first half drew to an end.
Liverpool started the second half on the front foot, creating a couple of opportunities in transition. Kirsty Linnett carried the ball from deep and then took a pop at goal from 35 yards out that went well wide of goal. A couple minutes later, Amy Rodgers played a delicious through ball to Amalie Thestrup down the right wing. Thestrup’s cross was cut out by the keeper with Bo Kearns lurking in the box.
Rylee Foster did well to save a header from close range, showing good reflexes and strong hands to hold the shot. A couple minutes later, Foster again was called into action, this time off of a corner. Foster did well to tip the ball over the net with a Sheffield United player pressuring her after a header.
Penalty to Liverpool is saved. Melissa Lawley again was working down the left flank, and played a simple square ball to Amy Rodgers in the box. Rodgers was pushed in the back, and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Kirstey Linnett stepped up to take the penalty, but she didn’t place it far enough to the corner and the keeper was able to save the ball.
Taylor Hinds did her fair share of defending in the second half. The birthday girl showed her composure time and time again in 1v1 situations, showing great timing and strength in her tackles.
Foster again came up big for Liverpool. The young keeper bravely came out to claim a cross, and took a flying foot to the stomach for her troubles with 10 minutes left in the game.
Penalty to Sheffield in the 90th minute. The ball bounces in Liverpool’s box and Foster did not come out to deal with it. The ball was deflected onto Taylor Hinds upper arm, and the referee awarded a penalty and sent Hinds off after giving her a second yellow.
PENALTY SAVED!!! Rylee Foster again went the right way, and this time the shot was on frame. Foster palmed the ball away, and saved the follow up shot as well. Unfortunately Foster took a nasty knock to the head during the scramble and had to be stretchered off. We hope she will be ok. Rachael Laws came on in place of Foster, and Ceri Holland came on for Kirsty Linnett.
Liverpool managed to hold on to take all three points, as well as take hold of the third spot in the table. Liverpool have their season finale next Sunday at home against London City.