The Liverpool women entered the game sitting in the third spot in the table, tied on points with Sheffield United, and just a point behind league leaders Durham. With Sheffield United and Durham battling each other, today’s game away to Blackburn was a great opportunity for the Reds to gain some ground.
With Jade Bailey out injured, Rachel Furness dropped into a deeper role next to Rhiannon “Razza” Roberts. Melissa Lawley slid into the number 10 role, with Ashley Hodson coming in to start on the right wing. Jess Clarke was slated to start, but she was dropped to the bench just before kickoff, with Amalie Thestrup stepping into the point striker role.
Liverpool dominated proceedings from the off, and almost led in the first few minutes of the game courtesy of Thestrup. A ball into the box came to Liverpool’s number 9 just eight yards from goal, but her shot was smartly saved by Alex Brooks in a foreshadowing of what would come to pass for the rest of the game.
Just a few minutes later, Blackburn failed to clear a corner, and the ball back into the box found Furness, who hit a wicked volley with her left foot, but the goal bound effort was blocked a few yards out from goal.
Liverpool continued to play almost all of the game in Blackburn’s half. The Reds saw great success down both wings, with Rinsola Babajide and Ashley Hodson using pace and good close control to beat defenders. Babajide drove a low ball across the face of goal the just eluded the touch of both Thestrup and Lawley, before Hodson played a similarly enticing ball from the other wing a few minutes later that was again millimetres from being turned in.
Blackburn did get one fantastic chance in the first half, as Saffron Jordan turned her defender, but Racheal Laws was up to the task, making a save from close range.
Back on the other end, Liverpool were again left wanting, missing probably the best chance of the half. Ashley Hodson, who switched wings with Rinsola Babajide, lofted a cross into the box from the left. The ball eluded everyone, and ended up caroming off the base of the far post to Amalie Thestrup, who lifted the ball over a wide open net from six yards out just a few minutes from half time.
The second half was, if anything, more frustrating for Liverpool. Meikayla Moore came on as a holding midfielder to start the half for Amalie Thestrup. Hodson slid into the striker role, with Lawley moving to the left wing and Furness pushing forward into the attacking midfield role. The game was more stretched in the second half, but that led to several gilt-edged chances on the counter attack. Twice, Rinsola Babajide was put through clean on goal, and both times she was unable to beat the keeper 1v1. Sandwiched between the two 1v1 chances, Babajide also had a left footed effort from the edge of the box well saved by Alex Brooks.
For much of the second half, Liverpool began to show their desperation, taking pops from outside the box more and more frequently. Many of those chances flew well over the bar. Anything that did manage to make it within the frame of goal was gobbled up by Brooks.
In a final roll of the dice. Vicky Jepson threw on Jess Clarke with 10 minutes to go. Unfortunately, the player withdrawn was Babajide, so yet again we didn’t get to see the attacking group that seemed to be so fluid at the start of the season play together. Clarke got herself involved immediately, posing a threat in and around the box. Unfortunately, she also had a glaring miss. Hodson again provided an enticing low ball to Clarke, who put it over the net from just three yards out.
Liverpool threw everything they could at the Blackburn goal in the last few minutes, but Alex Brooks was again on hand to save a header from Meikayla Moore, and cut out low crosses with Clarke lurking.
As the final whistle blew, the Liverpool players heads dropped, knowing that they had dropped two points rather than gaining a point. With Durham defeating Sheffield United, the Reds are now three points adrift the top of the table. Leicester City also leapfrogged Liverpool, and are now second on 17 points. With only one team earning promotion to the WSL, Liverpool cannot continue to dominate games but lose ground in the table by failing to finish their chances.
Liverpool will take on Everton in the WSL Cup version of the Merseyside Derby on Wednesday. The Reds do not return to league play until December 6, when they will host Crystal Palace.