The Liverpool FC Women’s side suited up for the last time this season, away to Lewes FC. The title had been won, the trophy lifted in front of their fans, so for Liverpool, this was an opportunity to provide an opportunity for some of the exciting young talents and reserve players who had not seen much game time this season.
Matt Beard rolled out a side that was very much a mixture of youth and experience. Goalkeeper Charlotte Clarke got her first league start for Liverpool since joining the Reds in December. In front of Clarke were two of the bright young stars of the Liverpool Academy — fullback Lucy Parry and center back Hannah Silcock. Those two were matched with the very experienced Leighanne Robe, Megan Campbell, and Taylor Hinds. Missy Bo Kearns and Ceri Holland partnered in midfield, while Leanne Kiernan was trotted out as the point striker flanked by Carla Humphrey and Ashley Hodson.
How the champions line up for the final day of 2021/22! ❤ pic.twitter.com/hbGRsJMO8z— Liverpool FC Women (@LiverpoolFCW) May 1, 2022
The squad was welcomed by a guard of honor provided by the Lewes players and mascots before the match kicked off.
Once the match kicked off, however, it was all business for Liverpool. While it certainly wasn’t the strongest line up Matt Beard has put out this season by a long shot, the Reds were still up to their usual tricks of generating tons of pressure and creating lots of opportunities from the opening whistle.
Leanne Kiernan was her usual bundle of energy up front, and she set up Ceri Holland for a shot from inside the box in just the 5th minute. Just a minute later, Missy Bo Kearns forced Tatiana Saunders into a save after heading a cross from Megan Campbell on frame.
Saunders was again called into action for Lewes in the 16th minute after Ashley Hodson sprung Leann Kiernan in on goal. Saunders came out of her net to handle the situation and deny Kiernan.
Kiernan again was thwarted by Saunders in the 28th minute after the Irishwoman made a run to the end line and then cut towards the goal. Saunders was again on hand to keep Kiernan from finding the back of the net.
The pressure generated by Liverpool finally paid dividends in the 33rd minutes, and again it was Leanne Kiernan’s hustle that caused the danger. Lucy Parry played a ball down the line for Kiernan to gallop on to and take towards the goal. Kiernan squared the ball to Ashley Hodson for a simple tap in to give Liverpool the 1-0 lead.
Liverpool spent the rest of the half searching for a second goal, but it was Lewes who would find the net just before the half time whistle. Georgia Timms was able to beat Charlotte Clarke to level the score in the 44th minute, sending the teams into the locker rooms back even.
Beard made a triple substitution to start the second half, bringing on Melissa Lawley, Niamh Fahey, and Jade Bailey for Leighanne Robe, Missy Bo Kearns, and Carla Humphrey. Just over 10 minutes later Ashley Hodson was replaced in the attacking band by Katie Stengel.
Youngster Hannah Silcock unfortunately took a knock in the 64th minute. Jasmine Matthews was brought into the center of defense for Silcock.
Lewes drew ahead in the 71st minute thanks to a very unusual goal. Goalkeeper Tatiana Suanders sent a long free kick up the field from her own half. Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Charlotte Clarke, was out of her net, and the ball bounced over hear head and into the goal to give Lewes the 2-1 lead.
Liverpool pushed hard for an equalizer over the final 20 minutes. Melissa Lawley saw a strike from distance saved before Leanne Kiernan headed the ball just wide of the post from a corner kick. Ceri Holland had a couple of opportunities as well, putting a half volley over the crossbar and seeing a chance off of a corner blocked. Jasmine Matthews had one last chance in extra time after a long throw in from Megan Campbell was flicked on to her, but the center back saw her header saved by Saunders.
For the first time in 20 games in the league, with the only other time being the opening game of the season, Liverpool were behind at the final whistle, falling to Lewes 2-1.
While Matt Beard and his side will undoubtedly be disappointed with the result on the day, Liverpool end the season with a remarkable 16 wins, 4 draws, and 2 losses on the season. They finish 11 points ahead of second place London City, and boast a goal differential of +38 on the season.
Now the fun truly begins as Liverpool focus their attentions on preparing for the rigors of the WSL next season. With a strong young core and some great veteran experience, we can’t wait to see this team compete at the highest level again next season!