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Liverpool Women 1, Durham 1: New Season, Same Old Disappointment

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Liverpool struggled to take hold of their first game of the season, and were undone by a poor turnover

Liverpool Women v Durham Women: Barclays FA Women’s Championship Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Pregame

The Liverpool women kick off their season today against Durham at Prenton Park. The club struggled mightily last season in the FA Women’s Super League before the season was terminated due to the pandemic, and the club was summarily relegated. There was another mass exodus in the offseason, with several of the players firing parting shots about how bad things are behind the scenes.

Still, a new season and a new hope. Liverpool look to get their promotion push underway against a Durham side that do not have enough players to fill out their bench. Honestly, Liverpool were close to being in the same situation until a couple weeks ago.

First Half

To say the game looks disjointed would be an understatement. Both teams are struggling to move the ball through the midfield, with lots of unforced turnovers. Rinsola Babajide seems to be the lone bright light of attacking play from Liverpool. She uses her quick feet to absolutely roast the Durham defender before playing a sumptuous ball across the face of goal. Unfortunately, the rest of the Liverpool attack seemed as dazzled as I was watching the footwork, and no one made a run to get into place to finish.

Durham have had the lions share of chances, with several coming off of set pieces. Rachel Laws does well to tip a cross-shot just over the bar, and there is some desperate defending off of a couple of corner kicks.

GOAL LIVERPOOL!!! The Reds open up the scoring after Babajide slides a wonderful through ball to Rachel Furness. Furness calmly slots the ball past the keeper into the net. It was a nice counter against the run of play (if there really was a run of play).

Liverpool manage to snuff out another couple of attacks to take their 1-0 lead into the locker room at the half.

Second Half

Liverpool are sloooowly starting to take more control over the game. Rinsola Babajide is again at the heart of most of the attacking play, popping up all over the field. She also manages to get a soft yellow card for a shoulder barge. I have no idea how that was a yellow.

The ref shows she has a lack of understanding of the advantage rule as play is stopped for a foul after Liverpool had progressed the ball and it was slipped in to Babajide in the box. The free kick is taken short by Liverpool, and is quickly intercepted and goes back the other way. Leighanne Robe hustled back to snuff out the opportunity.

Babajide hits a rocket of a shot from the edge of the box, but it is straight at the keeper for a comfortable save. Substitute Jessica Clarke has been lively, getting involved in the build up play.

Big chance for Durham is wasted as the shot from 12 yards is right at Rachael Laws. That was probably the best chance all day for Durham.

Durham’s Iris Achterhof goes down under a hard but fair challenge and the medical staff come on the field. After a few minutes of treatment, she is able to walk off under her own power. Hope she is ok. Durham are playing with 10 players.

Rinsola Babajide and Jess Clarke combine well on the right, with Clarke lofting an enticing cross into the box, but no one was central to challenge for the ball.

Big chance for Liverpool! A free kick from about 30 yards out on the left side of the box is driven in, and Rachel Furness slides in to get a foot on it, but the ball rockets just on the wrong side of the post.

Goal Durham. Liverpool take a thrown in deep in their own half, and are quite lazy getting the ball forward. Beth Hepple picks the ball off at the edge of the box, and then lifts a delicate lob over Laws, and the ball nestles just inside the far post. It was a superb finish, but extremely disappointing from Liverpool as Durham are still playing with 10 players.

Liverpool have five minutes to steal a late goal. They earn a corner, which is driven into the box. The Durham keeper makes a brave leap into a heap of players to claim the ball.

So close from Liverpool. Another free kick from Hinds deep on the left side is driven into the box. The ball gets headed back across the face of goal, and a Durham player gets a toe on the ball to send it just past the outside of the post. Liverpool try to pile on the pressure with the ensuing corner, but nothing comes of it. The final whistle blows, and it’s a depressing 1-1 draw.

Post-game Thoughts

Liverpool struggled to get much going in the first half outside of individual efforts from Rinsola Babajide. The second half was much better, especially after the introduction of Jess Clarke. Clarke did a nice job of dropping a little deeper to combine with the midfielders, and it created some more space for Rachel Furness to run into. It was all undone by really lackadaisical play in the back, unfortunately. Liverpool still seem to lack any real identity as a team.

Liverpool travel to take on the London Bees next Saturday at The Hive stadium (seriously).