The Liverpool FC Women’s team was always going to have a difficult task in the fifth round of the FA Women’s Cup as they took on WSL league leaders Arsenal. The Reds made a good account of themselves, however, showing no fear as they played their usual aggressive style of attacking play. A couple of world class strikes, and what looked to be a blown offside call, lead to a lopsided scoreline.
A good crowd was on hand to watch, despite the Men’s team playing just a few hours later in London in the League Cup.
Today's attendance at Prenton Park will be at least 1,851 (may be a few latecomers). That's a record for @LiverpoolFCW here - fantastic effort from the supporters when there's a little game at Wembley happening later too! @LFCWSC @2gethertuneless— Andy Kelly (@AndyK_LivNews) February 27, 2022
Matt Beard lined his side up in their usual 3-4-3 formation, thought with a bit of a wrinkle. Yana Daniels, who normally plays as a wide forward, was deployed as the right wing back. Razza Roberts moved inside as one of the central defenders alongside Niah Fahy and Leighanne Robe. Missy Bo Kearns and Ceri Holland were given the start in midfield, with Rachel Furness available off of the bench. Katie Stengel played as the central of the three strikers, with Leanne Kiernan on the right and Melissa Lawley on the left.
Liverpool were up for the challenge posed to them. After some good defensive work, the Reds quickly moved forward on the counter. Katie Stengel played a ball through to Leanne Kiernan, and the Irishwoman ran onto the ball through the middle, but a defender came across to put put in just enough of a tackle that her shot lost its power.
Katie Stengel was barged over while challenging for a header in a central area midway into the Arsenal half, earning a free kick. Missy Bo Kearns stepped up to take the kick decided to take a crack on net, but the ball sailed well over the bar.
Liverpool were showing no fear of Arsenal, snapping into tackles all over the field to put Arsenal off. The Reds were deploying their usual high press to disrupt any attempts at quick transitions.
Arsenal broke through in the 19th minute with their first real bit of possession around the Arsenal box. Caitlin Foord was slipped through by Rafaelle Souza into the left side of the box with a clear run on goal. Rachael Laws made herself big and managed to get a hand to the shot, but she couldn’t keep it from bouncing into the net.
Liverpool came directly back on the attack, and Leanne Kiernan almost give Liverpool the leveler. She won the ball back on the right side, and drove forward into the box. She let a shot fly, but it flew across the face of goal and went just past the far post.
Rachael Laws made a huge save in the 30th minute. Arsenal played the ball from their right to the left, finding the head of Kim Little attacker on the left edge of the six-yard box. The header went back across the face of goal, and Laws managed to get a hand to the ball to keep it out, and Niamh Fahey was there to put it behind for a corner.
The corner was sent in, but only half cleared by Liverpool. The ball looped through the air to Katie McCabe, and she hit an absolute frozen rope rocket on the volley. Rachael Laws made a desperate dive to her left, and managed to get her fingertips to it, but the shot had too much power on it, and it stayed under the crossbar to give Arsenal the 2-0 lead.
Caitlyn Foord quickly added another just a few minutes later. Arsenal moved the ball forward, and the ball was dinked over the shoulder of Australian forward. She left Leighanne Robe and Nimah Fahey stranded with her turn, tracked the ball over her shoulder, and struck a vicious shot the went just under the crossbar. That was the second absolutely world class strike in as many minutes.
Liverpool showed their grit, and again showed their attacking verve down the right side of the field. Leanne Kiernan earned a corner, and Missy Bo Kearns sent a great ball into the box that was just scrambled away by Arsenal. Melissa Lawley picked the ball up outside the box and tried a quick strike, but her curling effort went high and wide of the net.
Leighanne Robe was the first player into the book, earning a yellow card with a late sliding challenge on Rafaelle Souze in the 41st minute.
Liverpool saw the rest of the half out, entering the locker room down 0-3. The Reds played well in the first half, and created some very good chances for themselves. They were unfortunately undone by two absolutely world class strikes for the second and third goals.
Razza Roberts and Nikitia Parris clashed heads while challenging for a header early in the second half, and both players required treatment. Thankfully both players were able to continue.
Liverpool continued to attack down the right flank. Melissa Lawley came inside to receive a ball from Yana Daniels, carried it forward, and put a good cross in. The ball came past everyone to the left side of the box, where Taylor Hinds challenged to win it off of an Arsenal defender. Hinds landed awkwardly, and the medical staff came on to check out her knee. She came back onto the field a minute later, giving Liverpool fans a sigh of relief.
Arsenal made a trio of subs in the 57th minute, bringing on Tobin Heath, Simone Boye, and Jennifer Beattie. Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza, and Noelle Maritze were the players that made way.
Liverpool made their first changes a few minutes later with Megan Campbell and Rachel Furness coming on for Leighanne Robe and Ceri Holland.
Liverpool began to put some more pressure on Arsenal after the subs came on. The high press almost caught Arsenal out, then a couple minutes later the Reds had two sequences with some nice possession in the Arsenal half ending with crosses into the box. The second sequence saw Katie Stengel get onto the end of a Yana Daniels cross, but her header went out for a goal kick.
Arsenal got a fourth goal from Kim Little on the counter attack. Liverpool players immediately were looking for offside as Little made her run, but the linesman kept the flag down, and Little placed the ball past Rachael Laws. Little also thought she was off, looking to the linesman before celebrating.
Charlotte Wardlaw came on for Razza Roberts after the goal, then Carla Humphrey came on for Missy Bo Kearns a few minutes later.
Captain Niamh Fahey kept Arsenal from scoring a 5th goal. Tobin Heath received the ball on the left side after some nice ball movement from Arsenal. She put a shot back across the face of goal, but Fahey dropped deep to head the ball off the line.
Liverpool continued to push for a goal of their own. After a spell of possession in the Arsenal half, Katie Stengel got a head to the ball at the top of the box, but the ball strayed wide of the post.
Megan Campbell caused some havoc in the Arsenal box with one of her long throws. The ball was pushed out to Carla Humphrey at the top of the box, but her shot was blocked, with the ball bouncing to Taylor Hinds who tried a volley from 25 yards out, but sent the ball ballooning far over the bar.
Liverpool made one last foray forward in the 89th minute. Leanne Kiernan won the ball in the middle of the field, and fed it to Yana Daniels on the right flank. Daniels carried the ball forward, then sent in a driven ball that could have been a cross, but ended up goal bound, dropping just over the crossbar onto the top of the net.
Rachael Laws was called into action just before extra time. Tobin Heath again got the ball on the left side of the box, cutting in on her right foot. This time the shot went low, and Laws got down well to comfortably save the ball.
The referee blew for full time, and Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Women’s Cup with a 0-4 loss. The Liverpool players should keep their heads up high as the final scoreline was harsh on them. They played well, but were ultimately undone by two wonder strikes for the second and third goals, and what looked to be an obvious offside that wasn’t called for the fourth goal.
Liverpool can now focus all of their attention back on the league and earning the sole promotion spot. The Reds will take on second place London City next weekend. The Lionesses have been the only team to defeat Liverpool in league play this season, winning 1-0 in the opening game of the season.