The Liverpool FC Women were back in action today, opening the group stages of the Continental Tyres Cup. The Reds were looking to get some positive momentum as they head into (yet another) international break on the back of a disappointing loss to local rivals Everton in front of over 27,500 fans at Anfield.
Matt Beard put out a much changed side. There were only four players who retained a starting spot from the last match. Emma Koivisto was supposed to get a break, but had to step in last minute for Razza Roberts when the Welsh international pulled up with an issue in warm ups. Jasmine Matthews continued on in her regular spot as the left of the central three defenders. Megan Campbell got her second start in a row at left wing back, and Katie Stengel continued on as the point striker with Leanne Kiernan out for several months. Eartha Cumings got her competitive Liverpool debut in net.
A late change to our starting XI, with Koivisto replacing Roberts as a precaution. pic.twitter.com/yqBvRsjtHH— Liverpool FC Women (@LiverpoolFCW) October 2, 2022
The match was supposed to be streamed on Sunderland’s twitter account, but they had technical difficulties. Good thing fans didn’t wake up early in the morning to watch this...
Liverpool got off to a bright start, with Katie Stengel heavily involved. The American striker got free into the box with the ball in just the fourth minute, but her shot ricocheted off the bar. Just two minute later she received a pass out wide from Carla Humphrey, cut inside, and played a ball into the box for Yana Daniels. Sunderland keeper Allison Cowling was able to claim the ball just in front of the Belgian.
Eartha Cumings was tested in the 12th minute after Sunderland generated their first real attack of the game. Jessica Brown got a shot off, but it was right at Cumings, who was able to hold the shot for her first save as a Liverpool player.
Liverpool continued to generate shooting chances early in the first half. Emma Koivisto took a crack from distance, but sent her shot well over the crossbar. The Reds earned a corner several minutes later in the 19th minute, and Rachel Furness was able to get a head on the ball, sending it goal-bound, but it also cleared the bar, out for a goal kick.
The Reds finally broke through for the opener in the 23rd minute. Yana Daniels won a free kick just outside the box in a central location. Megan Cambell stepped up and stuck a low, left-footed shot that beat the wall and the keeper to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead!
Liverpool looked to double their lead in the 27th minute, with Yana Daniels getting two bites at the apple. She unleashed a strong shot on goal that could only be parried away by Allison Cowling, but the ball came back to Katie Stengel. The striker laid the ball off for Daniels to get another shot off, and this time her shot was blocked on the line by Brianna Westrup.
Sunderland defender Faye Mullen had to be withdrawn in the 40th minute after several minutes of treatment. Nicki Gears game on in her stead.
Liverpool took a 1-0 lead into the half. Matt Beard made two substitutions to start the second half, bringing on Taylor Hinds and Missy Bo Kearns in place of Megan Campbell and Charlotte Wardlaw. Ten minutes into the second half, Liverpool made another change, this time bringing Melissa Lawley in for Carla Humphrey.
Young center back Hannah Silcock got on the end of a Missy Bo Kearns set piece in the 57th minute. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to put her header on frame, sending it over the bar instead.
Rachel Furness had another go at net, this time hitting a left-footed curler from the edge of the box. Her shot went just wide of the post.
Matt Beard sent on Gilly Flaherty for Hannah Silcock in the 64th minute. The Liverpool back line was now had the full compliment of regular starters as the Reds looked to see out the game for all three points.
Liverpool continued to push for another goal to double their lead. Melissa Lawley saw a shot deflected and bounce back off the post. Yana Daniels got to the rebound, but put it just on the wrong side of the post from a tight angle.
Missy Bo Kearns again sent in a dangerous set piece delivery in the 73rd minute, this time from a corner kick. Katie Stengel got a shot off from the delivery, but sent it just wide.
Liverpool made one last change in the 84th minute. Midfield workhorse Ceri Holland came on in place of the dynamic Rachel Furness.
Taylor Hinds took a crack at goal after progressing the ball down the field. Her shot from distance went high and out for a goal kick, however.
Liverpool make one last attack in extra time, with Melissa Lawley feeding a pass in to Katie Stengel. Sunderland make a last-ditch tackle to deny the shot. That’s the last action of the match as the referee blows the whistle for full time, and Liverpool finished the match with all three points!
The Reds get back to winning ways, taking the top spot in Group B for now. Quite a few of the players will be heading out for international duty before returning to kick off a very difficult stretch of games in the WSL, starting with Spurs away on October 16.