With razor thing margins in the FA Women’s Championship, Liverpool came into their game away to Durham needing points to stay in the hunt for the sole promotion spot. The Reds started the day in the third position on 21 points, just one point behind their host, Durham, and two points behind the leaders, Leicester City.
There was cause for concern when the team news dropped. Liverpool’s talismanic midfield dynamo, Rachael Furness, missed out due to injury. In her place was 19 year old Missy Bo Kearns in midfield. For the second game in a row, Liverpool did not have enough players to fill out a bench, fielding only five substitutes.
Liverpool started the game brightly, funneling much of their attack down the left wing to Rinsola Babajide. Missy Bo Kearns was also quite involved in the center of the pitch, showing nice passing range. Liverpool did seem to struggle to get the right weight on their passes on the artificial turf, however, leading to several unforced turnovers.
Durham, for their part, looked to break play up and hit Liverpool on the counter. With the ball bouncing around on the turf, this lead to a fairly back and forth first half.
Amalie Thestrup managed to get on the end of a through ball in the 7th minute, but the Durham keeper did well to turn the shot around the post. Liverpool again threatened the goal in the 22nd minute as Babajide played an enticing ball in from the left, but it just missed the head of the on-rushing Melissa Lawley. Ten minutes later, Amy Rodgers took a long range effort that surprised the keeper, leading to an awkward save to push the shot wide again.
Liverpool were left to rue their chances as Durham galloped forward on the counter in the 43rd minute down their left flank. The ball was cut back to the top of the box, and lashed into the net with a far post strike.
When the halftime whistle blew, Liverpool walked into the dressing room down 1-0. The Reds made a tactical switch to start the second half, with Rinsola Babajide and Melissa Lawley switching flanks.
Durham, buoyed by the late strike, came out flying in the second half, flying into challenges and harrying Liverpool players in packs. Liverpool struggled to hold onto the ball, and started resorting to hopeful long balls.
The young Missy Bo Kearns was withdrawn in the 54th minute as Kirsty Linnett made her first appearance since sustaining an injury a couple weeks ago. Kearns was one of the brightest players for the Reds during her time on the field.
With the game on a knifes edge, Liverpool came inches away from levelling in the 61st minute. Melissa Lawley made a fantastic run down the left flank, cutting into the box on her right foot, and aimed a shot at the far post. The Durham keeper got just a finger tip on the ball, pushing it inches wide of the post.
The resulting corner was whipped in, and Liverpool had it cleared off the line twice in the sequence before Durham cleared their lines. It was far and away the best opportunities for the Reds to grab a goal, but it was not to be.
Just a few minutes later, Durham hit Liverpool on the counter down the left flank yetagain. This time, the Durham player beat two Liverpool defenders on the dribble before whipping a beautiful curler to the far post to out the hosts up 2-0.
Liverpool managed to scrape together a couple more chances, including a free kicks just outside the top of the box, but they failed to really threaten the Durham goal. The final whistle blew as Liverpool dropped four points adrift of Durham and five points behind Leicester City in the race for promotion.
Liverpool have yet another multi-week break before they see the field again. Their next match is January 10 against London Bees. Liverpool cannot afford to drop any more points, and will likely need some help to gain promotion at this point.