Bristol City 2 - 4 Liverpool
Bristol City: Beever Jones 14’, Harrison 69’
Liverpool: Fahey 13’, Harrison 39’, Stengel 59’, Kearns 79’
It’s done!! Two years of pushing and working have all lead up to this. Liverpool Women have secured their place back in the Women’s Super League where they belong. A phenomenal season culminated in a 4-2 win over their rivals, Bristol City, was finally enough to push them over the line with two more matches to go.
Four goals scored by four different players was a good metaphor for the Reds this season. This group of women has formed an effective team, with everyone playing their roles. The defense, usually so rock solid, allowed in two goals on the day. However, you’ll forgive them the off-night, especially because Bristol City were fighting for their lives. The defensive slip ended up not mattering much in the end, because the attackers did their parts on the other end.
Nearly 6,000 fans packed Ashton Park on Sunday afternoon, many of them Liverpool supporters who made the trip, easily breaking the WSL2 attendance record.
Attendance is 5,752 at Ashton Gate for Bristol City v Liverpool. A new record in the Women’s Championship (by a fair way!)— Emma Sanders (@em_sandy) April 3, 2022
The fans were in full voice, and the match wouldn’t disappoint.
The chances came thick and fast for Liverpool. Leanne Kiernan forced a save from the Bristol City keeper seven minutes in with a shot from just outside the box. But it was Megan Campbell who was lynchpin for the Reds’ most dangerous attacks. The left-back’s quite honestly insane throw-ins caused huge problems for Bristol City from the beginning. Every dead ball situation seemed to become a set piece.
The first goal came courtesy of just such a situation. Campbell’s throw-in lead to chaos in the box, which captain Niamh Fahey getting control of it first and slotting it home on 13 minutes.
That first lead would be short-lived, however, when just after the restart, Bristol City’s Aggie Beever-Jones evened it out on the other end. Liverpool let a few chances go begging as the game started settle and both teams pushed forward for control.
Beever-Jones almost grabbed a brace, clear through on goal, but the shot was blocked ably by goalkeeper Rachael Laws’ foot. 15 minutes later, the Reds finally got the breakthrough they needed from yet another Campbell throw-in.
Jasmine Matthews got on the end of it this time, putting the Reds in the drivers seat, up 2-1 at halftime. They wouldn’t let go of the lead again. Campbell made sure of it with another 40+ yard throw-in at 59 minutes that once again utterly confounded the Bristol City defense. It landed at the head of Rachel Furness, whose perfect header found Katie Stengel in the box.
After her hat trick of goal deliveries, Campbell, who had gone done with a slight injury earlier in the game, got replaced by Charlotte Wardlaw, while Kiernan made way for Yana Daniels. Just the fact that Matt Beard had the power of a player like Daniels on the bench shows what a strong team they’ve put together.
Bristol City made things interesting 10 minutes later when Abi Harrison got one back, leaving fans biting their nails for the next 20 minutes, despite the fact that the Reds only needed a draw to win the title.
Beard then made his most decisive change, taking off Ceri Holland and replacing her with Scouser Missy Bo Kearns for the final 15 minutes. Kearns needed only five of them to stamp her mark on the match and ensure the victory.
Stengel ran the ball up to the byline and sent a beautiful, dangerous cross into the box. It ricocheted off the foot of one Liverpool player, right into the path of Kearns.
Liverpool were decisively the best team in the Championship this season. Their promotion is well-deserved. Now it’s time to celebrate, and then think about what needs to be done to make sure that the team is ready to prosper in the top flight.