Women’s Football Weekend got off to an exciting start with Liverpool Women traveling across the park to Everton for the first Women’s Merseyside Derby to be played at Goodison Park. Despite the disappointing scoreline, it had everything that a football lover wants in a match - thrilling play, spicy tackles, and two teams with high stakes to play for. Now join us as we examine some of the narratives, tactics, reactions, and questions Liverpool will be dealing with and the fans will be talking about in the aftermath.
Winners and Losers
Winner: Liverpool Women
Sure, they came away with only a point, but they handled the match well when it all could’ve gone sideways after Gabby George’s opening goal. They put their heads down and worked hard and Katie Stengel rewarded them with an equalizer before the halftime break. Stengel and Ceri Holland were the stand outs but the whole team did well to execute their plan and battle hard the point they received. They created more chances and had more shots on goal than the hosts, and were unlucky not to have found the net in a number of them.
Even the unluckiest moment came from Leighanne Robe’s would-be winning goal in the opening minutes of the second half being disallowed for a foul on the keeper. Throughout the second half there was the distinct feeling that a winning goal would come, especially once Shanice van de Sanden came on, but the football goddesses didn’t feel up to give that extra nudge we needed.
Loser: Everton Women
They had every reason to come into this match confident. They had won their last three matches, had beaten Liverpool earlier in the season at Anfield, and their manager talked often about “controlling the game.” They did none of that, and despite have a higher possession percentage for the entirety of the match, were unable to to also find the winner. They had a second goal ruled out as a handball, but it was less questionable than the foul by Ceri Holland, even as Jessica Park tried to claim it came off her shoulder. They also have the misfortune of being Everton fans, but their Women’s team has recently been better than the Men’s team so I won’t be too harsh on them (for now).
Winners: The fans
With a recorded attendance of 22,161 attending Friday’s match, they have smashed Everton’s previous Goodison Park record by some margin. The fans are always the winners in these scenarios because playing at these larger stadiums should be, you know, more common than twice a season. This is even the first time the WSL Merseyside Derby has been played at Goodison, a thing to be celebrated and chastised (how many of these could there have been before this?) Fans were treated to a whole host of activities before the match, this rivalry at its best, and the chance to show off their dedication. Even despite Goodison’s questionable acoustics, the Liverpool faithful were in full sound. Women’s football could be like this all the time, if the patriarchy would let them, but therein lies the problem.
What Happens Next
Liverpool Women now sit in 8th place, with 8 points separating them from Leicester City at the bottom of the table, and six points from sixth place Everton. With six matches remaining, and three of those at home, the Red Women will be hoping to use that performance to get every point they can leading up to the end of the season. If they can just avoid relegation, there’s no telling where this squad could go and even today showed potential for something greater ahead. It’ll be a tough road, though, with Manchester City and United both lurking ahead.
What The Fans Are Saying
The biggest reaction from Friday’s match has come from Leighanne Robe’s disallowed goal early in the second half. What would have been a winner was called off for a soft foul on goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan and everyone is rightly outraged.
Understand Robe’s goal was disallowed due to a foul, looking back on the replay it looks very soft.— Tom Jenkins (@TomJenkns) March 24, 2023
Everton have got away with one there, and Liverpool are rightly seething.
EVE 1-1 LIV#MerseysideDerby #EVELIV #WSL
Even Matt Beard, of course, has come out against the ruling, but as expected. Everton got away with something there, and unfortunately Liverpool had to pay for it.
Liverpool Women travel south to West Ham next, visiting the Hammers on Sunday, April 2nd.