Every match and every point brings the Liverpool FC Women closer to the potential of winning the FA Women’s Championship, and earning the sole promotion spot into the WSL. Matt Beard’s side had the unusual opportunity to take on the same team for the second time in a week as they took on Charlton Athletic in their rescheduled fixture from earlier in the season after defeating them 0-1 on a late Jasmine Matthews header last weekend. Charlton again proved to be a tough nut to crack, this time keeping Liverpool off of the score sheet as both teams earned a point.
Matt Beard returned to the tried and true 3-4-3 formation for the rematch with Charlton. Niamh Fahey was not in the squad, whether through injury or illness was unknown. Megan Campbell was given an opportunity to start in her stead alongside Razza Roberts and Jasmine Matthews.
The midfield also had a bit of a surprise, with Carla Humphrey being given the nod alongside Rachel Furness while Missy Bo Kearns and Ceri Holland were left on the bench. Leanne Kiernan was also left out of the starting XI, with Katie Stengel playing as the central striker flanked by Yana Daniels and Melissa Lawley.
Liverpool looked much more assured moving the ball around in their usual formation compared to last week. The Reds used quick interplay, moving the ball out to the wings and then back in, to generate some early opportunities. Melissa Lawley put in several nice crosses that resulted in mayhem in the box in the opening five minutes, but Charlton were able to scramble the ball clear each time.
Charlton looked to exploit the space in behind the wing backs with long diagonal balls. Megan Campbell made a good interception in the box in the 10th minute after Charlton found some space down their right flank and tried to pass the ball into the box.
Megan Campbell launched a throw into the box in the 13th minute, with the ball finding the head of Rachel Furness to flick on. Charlton partially cleared the ball, and then blocked the follow up shot. Liverpool retained possession and recycled the ball before springing Katie Stengel with a great through ball. The Amercan striker steamed forward to the end line, but her clipped ball across the face of goal went over everyone.
Taylor Hinds, who has been known to score a fantastic goal, hit a snapshot from distance in the 17th minute. Her strike had real venom on it, and Eartha Cumings was forced into a diving save to turn the ball past the far post.
Like last week, Charlton showed great energy in their press. They challenged for every ball and second ball, making it for difficult for Liverpool to create any real rhythm through the middle stretch of the first half.
Liverpool had a nervy moment in the 24th minute as Megan Cambell let a ball run past her near her own box, failing to see a Charlton attacker charging forward. Campbell managed to get a toe to the ball to win it back, but it went right to another Charlton attacker. Jasmine Matthews showed great recognition, dropping deep and put herself in a position to make the tackle to quell the Charlton threat.
Yana Daniels earned a free kick five yards outside the right side of the Charlton box in the 31st minute. Carla Humphrey sent in a sensational delivery to the far post, but Charlton were again able to clear the danger.
Liverpool again forced Eartha Cumings into a good save in the 35th minute. Taylor Hinds sent in a free kick from deep, and Charlton headed it clear, but the ball fell to Charlotte Wardlaw just outside the box. The young right wing back hit the ball on the half volley, with the ball dropping in towards the far post, but Cumings did well to get down and make the diving save.
Liverpool created a fantastic chance in the 40th minute. After working the ball around the back, Charlotte Wardlaw played a sensational through ball to find the run of Carla Humphrey. The midfielder took the ball in stride, charging down the right before sliding the ball across to Katie Stengel in front of goal. The American rolled her defender, turning to put the ball on her left foot, but skied the shot from close distance as she was falling over. The linesman put the flag up for offside on Stengel belatedly.
Taylor Hinds had a go from distance again. This time her shot from the left flank drifted just over the crossbar to land on the top of the net.
Liverpool’s set piece prowess again almost gave them the break through in the 52nd minute. Carla Humphrey drove in a corner kick from the left, and Yana Daniels got up to flick a header towards the far post. Eartha Cumings was again on hand to make a save on the goal line to keep the ball out of the net and deny Liverpool an opener.
Megan Campbell again had a defensive error that led to an opportunity for Charlton. She misplayed a pass under no pressure, sending it right to an attacking player outside of the box, but thankfully the resulting shot went wide of the far post.
Matt Beard went to his bench in the 58th minute to bring on some fresh legs. Leanne Kiernan replaced Melissa Lawley, while Ceri Holland came on for Carla Humphrey.
Liverpool again saw an opportunity come from a long thrown by Megan Campbell. She threw it from the right side of the field, with Yana Daniels challenging for the header in the box. The ball popped to Razza Roberts, but her shot was blocked.
Charlton made their first change of the game in the 65th minute. Emma Follis was replaced by Jess King in the forward spot. Five minutes later, Elisha Sulola came on for Louis Roche.
Liverpool again threatened from a set piece delivery. Ceri Holland sent a ball in towards the box from just inside the Charlton half, and Rachel Furness leapt to get her head to the ball. Her skimmed header bounced just to the outside of the far post.
Charlton caused some issues with a corner kick in the 76th minute. The low ball was only half cleared, and a follow up shot was partially blocked by Yana Daniels, with the ball popping up and looping over the bar for another corner. Liverpool fully cleared the second opportunity.
Matt Beard went for an attacking change, bringing on midfielder Jade Bailey for Megan Campbell. Liverpool shifted Charlotte Wardlaw inside moved Yana Daniels to right wing back to try and create some more attacking output.
Liverpool immediately went on the attack after the sub. Leanne Kiernan made a great run down the left, twisting and turning away from defenders. She passed it back to Yana Daniels, who put a first time ball into Rachel Furness at the top of the box. Furness turned and got a shot off, but it again just went on the wrong side of the far post.
Liverpool thought they had the breakthrough in the 82nd minute after some sensational play from Katie Stengel. The American carried the ball down the right, getting to the end line before cutting the ball back to Leanne Kiernan. Her shot looked like it was about to go in when Eartha Cummings got a toe to the ball to keep it out. The follow up shot by Ceri Holland went over the net.
Liverpool peppered Charlton with attack after attack as the game ticked towards full time. Liverpool had possession in a shooting opportunity in extra time when the referee called a halt to play for a player down well behind the play. He inexplicably called for a drop ball, and made the Liverpool players stand off, allowing for Charlton to clear the ball deep down the field.
Liverpool were unable to get control back in the last few minutes of extra time, with the final whistle seeing the match end in a 0-0 draw. Charlton Athletic certainly made it difficult for Liverpool with their energy in the press, but the Reds created more than enough chances to win the game.
With Bristol City having the weekend off, Liverpool moved to an eight point lead at the top of the table with four games left to play. The Reds will be back in action next weekend as they host third place Durham.