The Liverpool FC Women’s side came into their first home match of 2022 in a fine run of form, unbeaten since losing the very first game of the season. With Durham losing to Crystal Palace earlier in the day, Liverpool had the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table, taking on 11th place Watford.
Unfortunately, for the second week in a row, kickoff was at the same time as the Men’s team. With both teams playing at home, all of the LFCTV crew were at Anfield, meaning there was no live stream of the Women’s match despite the fact that the match was filmed and will be put up on the FA Player website tomorrow.
Matt Beard made three changes from his team that walloped Blackburn 6-0 last week. Razza Roberts got the nod over Charlotte Wardlaw at right wing back as the two battle for the regular starting spot. Megan Campbell continued her return from injury, getting her first start in the league this season at center back in place of Leighanne Robe. Ceri Holland got a rare day off as Rachel Furness came in to partner with Missy Bo Kearns in midfield.
As is usually the case, Matt Beard’s side came out and put their opponents under pressure early and often. Melissa Lawley got the first shot on target for the reds in the 14th minute, sending in a volley from distance that was held by the keeper. In the 19th minute, Liverpool got the ball in the back of the net, but Yana Daniels was flagged for offside after tucking in a rebound from close range.
Leanne Kiernan, who has been red hot in front of goal as of late, was sent in on goal by Rachel Furness in the 28th minute. Unfortunately, the Irishwoman slipped as she was taking her shot, and Watford keeper Georgie Ferguson was able to control the shot.
Several minutes later there was controversy as Liverpool thought the Watford keeper should have been sent off for a DOGSO. Rachael Laws sent a long ball forward from a goal kick, and Taylor Hinds ran onto the ball. The Liverpool squad felt Georgie Ferguson brought down Hinds, and as the last player back, should have been sent off. The referee didn’t feel there was enough in it, and waved for play to continue.
Liverpool had two more chances before the half, but both Taylor Hinds and Leanne Kiernan could not put their shots on target. Liverpool went into the half tied 0-0.
Georgie Ferguson was called into action early in the second half, making a diving save from a Razza Roberts shot. Just a few minutes later, Ferguson made a mistake holding onto the ball, and Leanne Kiernan stole it from her. The Liverpool striker rounded the keeper, but her shot strayed wide of the post as Liverpool looked to break through.
Matt Beard brought on new signing Katie Stengel for Leanne Kiernan in the 58th minute. Ceri Holland also came on for Rachel Furness at the same time.
Liverpool continued to move the ball and tried to find the space for good shots, but just could not break down the Watford side. Charlotte Wardlaw was introduced for the Reds in the 70th minute for Jasmine Matthews to give Liverpool another option for deliveries into the box.
Liverpool finally found the back of the net in the 83rd minute. Megan Campbell, who was lauded by Matt Beard for her long throw ins, sent one of her trademark throws into the Watford box. Katie Stengel was able to get on the end of it to head it home from close range to give Liverpool the 1-0 lead.
Yana Daniels almost doubled the lead with her own header in the 88th minute, but she put the ball over the bar from close range. Taylor Hinds also put a header over the goal as time wound down as Liverpool held on for the win.
With the three points in hand, Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the table to seven points. London City slid into the second spot, while Crystal Palace took over third with their win over Durham, just a point behind the Lionesses. Both London City and Crystal Palace have a game in hand on Liverpool, however.
The Reds will head to London on Wednesday to take on Tottenham in the quarterfinals of the FA WSL Cup. Liverpool will then head back to London next Sunday as both they and the Men’s team will take on Crystal Palace at the same time yet again.