Another week, another three points for the Liverpool FC Women as they march toward promotion from the FA Women’s Championship. Unfortunately, yet again, no one outside the stadium could watch as both the Women and the Men kicked off at the same time. Despite the Men’s team being away and the Women’s team being home, all of the LFCTV broadcast crew was with the Men’s team.
From what we could cobble together from official reports and tweets of people at the match, Liverpool were given a good fight in the first half by Sunderland before a big call changed the complexion of the game.
Matt Beard had a full team to choose from outside of long-term absences Rylee Foster, Rianna Dean, and Jasmine Matthews. Charlotte Wardlaw got the start at right wing back, with Razza Roberts pushing inside as one of the center backs. Megan Campbell was dropped to the bench after a string of starts. Ceri Holland got her first start since returning from covid, with Missy Bo Kearns getting a rest on the bench. Liverpool’s lethal strike force of Leanne Kiernan, Katie Stegnel, and Yana Daniels got another opportunity to start together.
Sunderland managed to make forays forward to fashion shooting chances several times in the first half. Rachael Laws was called into action several times, making saves in the 16th and 33rd minutes. Sunderland also saw a shot deflected and go just over the bar in the 21st minute.
Liverpool, for their part, created quite a few scoring opportunities for themselves in the first half, but failed to break through. Katie Stengel laid the ball off to Niam Fahey in the 36th minute, and the center back got her shot on target. Sunderland’s goalkeeper, Allison Cowling, managed to make the save and hold the ball to deny a follow up.
Just two minutes later, Cowling again had to make a save to keep Liverpool out of the net. Taylor Hinds sent a cross in that met the head of Razza Roberts, but Cowling parried the ball away from goal.
Just before half time, Liverpool had their best chance of the half. Taylor Hinds sent a free kick on frame, but Neve Herron headed the ball off the line to save the goal.
The second half quickly tilted the match in Liverpool favor. Just two minutes into the half, Katie Stengel was in on goal when she was clipped by Neve Herron. The hero at the end of the first half was shown a red card, and Liverpool were awarded a penalty. Stengel stepped up to take the spot kick that she had earned, and powered the ball past Cowling to give the Reds a 1-0 lead!
With the lead and the player advantage, Matt Beard opted to make three suns in the 58th minute. Megan Campbell, Melissa Lawley, and Missy Bo Kearns all came on. Off went Leighanne Robe, Razza Roberts, and Ceri Holland.
Liverpool continued to create chances, and almost doubled their lead in the 60th minute. Taylor Hinds sent a ball into the box that was not dealt with by Allison Cowling, and the ball fell to Melissa Lawley. The substitute got a shot off, but it was cleared off the line by Louise Griffiths.
Megan Campbell announced her presence just a few minutes later. The center back sent one of her signature long throw ins into the box, and the ball went past everyone and into the net before it could be touched. Since no one got a touch on the ball, it was ruled out because it was an indirect set piece.
Allison Cowling was forced into another save in the 68th minute. Bo Kearns sent Taylor Hinds down the left with a good pass, and the left wing back fed the ball inside to Yana Daniels, who saw her shot saved.
Moments later, Hinds again almost provided an assist, this time sending the ball to Leanne Kiernan. The Irishwoman stretched to meet the ball, but saw it rebound off of the crossbar.
Jade Bailey and Meikayla Moore entered the fray in the 76th minute, replacing Rachel Furness and Leanne Kiernan in the 76th minute.
Liverpool finally got their second goal of the match in the 85th minute. Megan Campbell sent another of her long throws into the box, and it eventually fell to Katie Stengel. The American striker laid it back to Yana Daniels, who placed the ball past the keeper and into the net!
Katie Stengel earned her second penalty of the day in the 90th minute. This time, Bo Kearns stepped up to take it, putting it into the net for Liverpool’s third goal of the game.
Liverpool’s win, coupled with other results on the day, saw the Reds increase their lead at the top of the table to 10 points. London City sit in second, still with a game in hand, but lead leaves Liverpool with a lot of wriggle room should they need it.
Matt Beard’s side, however, doesn’t plan on leaving things to others, as they have now gone unbeaten in the league since the very first game of the season. Rachael Laws earned her fourth clean sheet in a row in league play, last conceding in November. It was her 10th shutout of the season, breaking her own club record!
Liverpool players will now disperse for an international break. The Reds will be back in action on February 27th, when they will host Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Women’s Cup.