Like with the Men’s team, the end of 2020 and start of 2021 has been rough for the Liverpool Women’s side. The Reds had dropped points against sides they needed results against, seen their manager leave the team (or was told to leave, we may never know). Their star player, Rinsola Babajide, had asked to leave the team on loan during the January transfer window, but the club denied her, leading to a rift between the player and club.
What Liverpool could really use was a nice, positive result against the basement dwelling London Bees. And that was exactly what they got.
Amber Whiteley put had a few surprises in store for the line up. Jade Bailey returned from a severe injury sustained in the fall to step into the holding role. Ashley Hodson, Kirsty Linnett, and Ceri Holland also all earned starting roles. It was a home starting debut for Holland, who just signed in January.
Rachel Furness, just returned from international duty, was left on the bench, as was Melissa Lawley. Rinsola Babajide was again completely left out of the team. There was no acknowledgement of an injury, so it would seem that she has been frozen out of the squad.
Liverpool looked lively from the opening whistle. Becky Jane, playing in a more advanced role than we have seen her in this season, was frequently involved down the right flank. Ceri Holland was also a bundle of energy from the off, getting the ball into dangerous positions. Holland created a couple of early chances, and forced a corner kick in the 4th minute.
Just 5 minutes later, both Holland and Jane were involved again. This time, Holland fed a slick ball to Ashley Hodson, we drove into the left side of the box before cutting the ball back across the face of goal to a wide open Becky Jane to slot home for a 1-0 lead.
Liverpool continued to push and probe for a second goal. They almost doubled their lead in the 14th minute. Missy Bo Kearns whipped in a great corner kick, and it was met with a solid header from Rhiannon Roberts, but the ball was cleared off the line before Liverpool could scramble it home.
The Bees, to their credit, didn’t fold under the pressure. They fashioned a couple of chances of their own from some energetic work from Sophie Quirk, but failed to put anything on net.
Liverpool created a couple more opportunities before the half. Razza Roberts again had an opportunity on net, but it was well saved by Bees keeper Sarah Quantrill. Missy Bo Kearns also was denied by Quantrill, seeing her strong shot tipped over the bar after a nice lay off from Becky Jane.
Liverpool started the second half still searching to kill the game off, but the London Bees came out, well, buzzing. Rachael Laws twice came up big to deny the visitors as they pushed for an equalizer.
Amber Whiteley made a triple change in the 62nd minute to try and get the Reds going again. In came Rachel Furness, Melissa Lawley, and Amy Rodgers. Out when Kirsty Linnett, Missy Bo Kearns, and Becky Jane.
While the substitutes were looking to get themselves integrated into the game, the Bees kept searching for the equalizer. They came close to finding it through Sophie Quirk, who’s looping shot clanged off the top of the crossbar.
Liverpool finally got the upper hand back in the 74th minute. A speculative ball forward from Liverpool’s defense was flicked on by Rachel Furness to Ceri Holland. The new signing immediately played the ball to Melissa Lawley before continuing her run from the midfield circle. Lawley played a perfectly weighted ball for Holland to run on to, and Holland did the rest, sliding the ball underneath the onrushing keeper and into the net.
Liverpool scored yet again just 6 minutes later. Lawley was again involved, bursting forward with the ball from deep in Liverpool’s half before sliding the ball out right to Ashley Hodson. Lawley received the ball back near the edge of the box, retreated a little deeper to dance around a couple of defenders before lofting a ball to Rachel Furness at the top of the box. Furness miscontrolled the ball, but it luckily popped out perfectly for Amy Rodgers to hit. Rodgers left no doubt on the finish, hitting a low, fizzing effort the curled perfectly behind a defender, leaving the keeper no chance to see the ball before it was whistled just inside the far post.
With the match well in hand, Amber Whitely gave a senior team debut to youngster Emily Brough. The 16 year old came on for the last few minutes to replace Jade Bailey.
Liverpool saw the game out to see their first win of the new year. They still sit in 4th place in the table. The Reds will be back in action next Sunday away to Chrystal Palace. You can see the match in its entirety below courtesy of LFC!