The top-of-the-table Reds came into the match with a seven point lead in the standings after a draw with London City last weekend. Matt Beard’s side traveled to London for the first of the back to back matches with Charlton Athletic.
The Liverpool FC Women lined up in a 3-5-2 formation. With Leighanne Robe out with an injury, Razza Roberts joined Niamh Fahey and Jasmine Matthews in the back three. Yana Daniels was preferred to Charlotte Wardlaw as the right wing back. Missy Bo Kearns returned from a knock to start in midfield with Jade Bailey getting a rare start alongside the Scouser. Rachel Furness joined them as part of the central three in midfield, while Leanne Kiernan and Katie Stengel partnered up top.
Liverpool created some early pressure, and Yana Daniels had the first shot of the game in just the third minute. She received the ball on the right wing, then cut inside past several players before getting a left-footed shot off that sailed well over the bar.
Liverpool saw the majority of the ball early on, causing Charlton to chase and make some rash challenges to try and win the ball back. Ella Rutherford came in late on Rachel Furness in the 12th minute and was shown an early yellow card.
Liverpool’s high press created several turnovers in the opening 15 minutes. Both Katie Stengel and Leanne Kiernan stole the ball off of defenders well into the Charlton half, but the Reds were not able to capitalize.
Liverpool and Charlton traded attacks throughout the middle portion of the first half. Liverpool looked to connect with the runs of Leanne Kiernan and Katie Stengel, but struggled to find the passes. Charlton focused most of their attack down Liverpool’s right flank, trying to exploit the space behind wing back Yana Daniels.
Rachael Laws came up huge in the 27th minute to keep the match knotted at zero. Charlton sent a driven corner kick, and Ella Rutherford headed the ball towards the goal from close range. Laws made a stellar reaction save to push the ball up onto the crossbar and then away from goal.
Charlton employed an effective mid-block through much of the first half, showing great energy to get bodies into the midfield to clog up Liverpool’s passing lanes. Liverpool often had to swing the ball back and around their back three to try and find different angles, but found little space for decisive attacks as the half wore on.
Liverpool finally mounted a sweeping attacking movement in the 45tm minute. The ball was moved down the left wing, and a low cross was sent in by Katie Stengel. Charlton blocked the cross before it could reach Leanne Kiernan, but it came to Missy Bo Kearns at the top of the box. Kearns shifted the ball onto her right foot and then unleashed a shot that went just over the bar.
Liverpool created a solid chance early in the second half. Rachel Furness sent in a cross from deep on the left flank, seeking out Leanne Kiernan. The Charlton keeper, Eartha Cumings, claimed the cross just before Kiernan could get a head to the ball.
Matt Beard went to his bench in the 55th minute, bringing on Melissa Lawley for Katie Stengel.
Chalrton created the next few chances, with a misplaced cross from the left drifting past everyone and close to the far post, though Taylor Hinds was there to cover should it be needed. Laws cut out a dangerous low cross a couple of minutes later, and then Charlton got a shot off from outside the box that went well over the bar.
Liverpool made their second change of the game in the 61st minute. Charlotte Wardlaw was introduced into the fray for Missy Bo Kearns. The change signalled a switch in formation with Wardlaw going to right wing back, pushing Yana Daniels to the right forward in a 3-4-3.
Charlton continue to put pressure on Liverpool. The Reds struggled to keep hold of the ball with a series of poor touches and passes as they looked to break out, and the turnovers saw Charlton see some significant spells of possession.
Katie Robinson came on for Emma Follis in the 68th minute for Charlton’s first change in the match.
Liverpool had a site of goal after a Charlotte Wardlaw free kick. The ball dropped to Melissa Lawley after a scramble in the box, but her shot was blocked.
With the midfield looking leggy, Matt Beard made another change, bringing Ceri Holland on for Jade Bailey in the 71st minute.
Liverpool got their first shot on goal in the 75th minute after a cross came in to Rachel Furness. The Northern Irishwoman got her head to the ball, but there was very little power on it, and it was an easy catch for the Charlton keeper.
Liverpool started to mount some pressure after the Furness chance, getting several dangerous balls into the Charlton box.
Chalrton made two more changes as the game entered the final stage.
Liverpool fashioned a very good look at goal as they moved the ball quickly down the field to Melissa Lawley. The forward slid the ball left to Taylor Hinds at the top of the box, but she hit across the ball and it skewed well wide of the net.
Cumings made a huge save to keep Liverpool off the score sheet in the 81st minute. Melissa Lawley showed some great skill to beat a defender before scampering down the left wing. She sent a low ball in to Yana Daniels, who took a touch before driving a left-footed shot on net. Cumings made a spectacular save to keep it out of the net, and the ball was turned behind for a Liverpool corner.
Jasmine Matthews, however would not be denied off the of the resulting corner! Taylor Hinds sent the ball in from the right, and Jasmine Matthews stooped down to flick a header into the net to give Liverpool the 1-0 lead!
Liverpool kept pressure on Charlton, not giving them a chance to get back into the game to look for an equalizer. Leanne Kiernan saw a late chance deflect off the arm of a defender in the box, but it was ruled a corner kick instead of a penalty.
The Reds held on for the 1-0 lead to maintain their lead at the top of the table, and move another game closer to promotion. Liverpool will be back in action next weekend as they will turn around and play the host to Charlton.