The Liverpool FC Women’s team hit a small speed bump on their drive for promotion. The Reds came into the match with the London City Lionesses on a seven match winning streak in the FA Women’s Championship, and were looking to maintain or extend their lead at the top of the table. The Lionesses, who started the day third in the table, had been the only team able to beat Liverpool in the league thus far this season, topping the Reds in the opening match of the year. They again proved to be a very game opponent, managing to stymie Liverpool’s potent attack for most of the day while snatching a second half goal to share the honors.
There was good news and bad news for Matt Beard’s side when the lineups were announced. Jasmine Matthews returned to her center back role after missing the last month and a half with a hamstring injury. Unfortunately, Missy Bo Kearns and Leighanne Robe both missed out with injuries.
Based on the line up given, the formation looked to be a 4-4-2 with Charlotte Wardlaw as the right back, and with Yana Daniels and Melissa Lawley as wingers. It also could have been the more usual Liverpool 3-4-3 with Wardlaw playing as one of the back three and Daniels as the right wing back as we saw against Arsenal. Unfortunately, as happens all to often, there was no way to watch the match other than being at the stadium.
As they have so often this year, Liverpool opened the match by putting their oppositions under pressure. Yana Daniels was involved in creating two early chances, first sending a cross to Ceri Holland that was headed just wide of the net, then sending another cross towards Katie Stengel at the back post. London City keeper Shae Yanaz was on hand to collect the cross before Stengel could get a head to it.
The Lionesses showed they could create problems for Liverpool with a move down their left wing to exploit the space in behind Charlotte Wardlaw. Shanade Hopcroft looked to be in on goal, but Rachael Furness was equal to the task, making the save in a 1v1 situation.
American Katie Stengel opened the scoring for Liverpool in the 27th minute with some heads up play. As London City looked to build out of the back, Stengel stepped forward to intercept a pass from the keeper to a center back, then tucked the ball into the net! It was her fourth goal in six league appearances since signing for Liverpool in January.
Liverpool pushed for a second goal before the end of the first half, with Melissa Lawley twice twice being in a spot to convert, but failing to put the ball away both times. Rachael Laws came up with another big save to preserve the lead. Unfortunately, Charlotte Wardlaw was forced off with an injury just before the half, with Razza Roberts coming on in place of the young defender.
London City found the equalizer just eight minutes into the second half. The Lionesses sent in a corner kick that the Reds failed to fully clear, and Brooke Nunn was on hand to turn the ball home from close range. It was the first goal Liverpool had conceded in the league since November.
The rest of the second half became a tense, back and forth affair, with neither team able to establish dominance on the game. Both teams had good opportunities to net a second goal, with Liverpool seeing efforts from Daniels, Roberts, and Kiernan all kept out late in the match.
With Liverpool’s draw and a win by second place Bristol City, the lead at the top of the table is now at seven points with six games left to play. The Reds will play their first of two matches in a row with Charlton next Sunday with the away fixture, followed by hosting Charlton the following weekend.