Liverpool 0- Leicester City 1
Leicester City: Cain 8’
The Liverpool FC Women come into the match against Leicester City with safety in their sights. With the win last weekend against Reading, Matt Beard’s side sit on 11 points for the season. In the last two seasons, the last placed team finished with 11 and 12 points, so a win against last place Leicester City would certainly having the Reds feeling confident about remaining in the WSL. For their part, however, Leicester City have looked much stronger under Willie Kirk, and they brought in five players during the January window in their fight to stay up.
Matt Beard is forced into one change as they host the Foxes, with Emma Koivisto missing out with a hamstring issue. Hopefully it is just precautionary as the Finn has been one of the standout players this season. Razza Roberts gets the start in place of Koivisto in a 3-5-2 formation. The impressive Fuka Nagano is again at the base of the midfield three to control the tempo and allow Ceri Holland and Missy Bo Kearns to get more involved in the attack. With Niamh Fahey still out with an injury, Taylor Hinds leads the team out wearing the captains armband.
As we have seen altogether too many times this season, Liverpool are the team under pressure early. Some misplaced touches gift Leicester City with extended possession in the Liverpool half.
Liverpool make a couple of forays forward, but fail to create any sort of shooting opportunity. Leicester City come back with another spell of possession that ends with Hannah Cain taking a shot from distance that is comfortably caught by Rachael Laws.
Liverpool again put themselves under pressure as Megan Campbell loses the ball while dribbling towards her own goal. Rachael Laws comes out to clear the ball, but it caroms off an attacking player and heads goalbound. Gemma Bonner is on hand to clear the ball out for a corner. Leicester send the corner on the ground to 12 yards out at the near edge of the 6 yard box, and Hannah Cain rips a shot that beats Laws after going through a mass of bodies. Liverpool are yet again in a hole early due to defensive errors.
Liverpool immediately look to respond, with two Megan Campbell long throws into the box creating some moments of chaos. Leicester City are able to clear eventually, but the Reds are coming out of their shell.
Another turnover from Liverpool in their own half see Leicester City again with a spell of possession. The ball is worked to CJ Bott, who takes a shot from distance on the right side. The ball is deflected, and loops up towards the top corner of the goal. Rachael Laws makes a spectacular diving save to push the ball over the bar before crashing into the post. Laws stays down to receive treatment, but is thankfully able to continue. Leicester City play a dangerous low ball in from the resulting corner kick, but this time Liverpool are able to clear their lines.
Melissa Lawley gets the ball in a good spot down the right wing, but her cross is blocked out for a throw near the corner flag. Megan Campbell launches it into the box, and Leicester City clear it out for another throw. Rinse, repeat, and Liverpool have a third throw. This time the ball is brought down in the box by Katie Stengel, who stabs it towards another Liverpool player, but a Leicester defender is able to just toe the ball clear first.
Another long throw from Megan Campbell, this time from the left side, finds the head of Jasmine Matthews in the box. The defender can’t get any power on it, unfortunately, and the ball loops towards goal but is caught by Janina Leitzig under the crossbar.
Liverpool have started to move the ball around better as the first half has wore on. A move down the right sees the Reds retain and recycle possession through the defense, with another attack launched down the left. Ceri Holland is played down the wing, and she carries the ball to the end line before turning goalwards, but a defender is able to come over and clear the ball out for a throw. Another Campbell long throw is again defended well by the Foxes, but Liverpool quickly regain possession and go back to work.
A moment of panic in the back for the Reds as Megan Campbell plays a poor pass back into her own pass without taking a look first, and almost sends a Leicester City player through on goal. Jasmine Matthews is alert to the danger, thankfully, and makes a sliding challenge to poke the ball away, and then gets up to take possession of the ball.
Liverpool make a late move down the right wing, with some great work by Fuka Nagano to spring the attack and find Melissa Lawley on the wing. The cross goes past everyone, and is cleared out for a throw on the left. Megan Campbell launches it again, and the ball is flicked on by Gemma Bonner to Ceri Holland at the far post. The midfielder twists and turns away from a defender, and manages to get off a left footed effort, but it is deflected just past the far post. Bonner stays down in needs treatment before Liverpool take their corner kick.
Missy Bo Kearns sends in a dangerous delivery into the middle of the 6 yard box, but no one in red is able to get a foot to it, and the ball is cleared. Liverpool win the ball back in their defensive half, and put it forward. Missy Bo Kearns looked to have won the ball in a fair tackle down the left wing, and begins to run at goal, but the referee belatedly blows his whistle for a foul. Soft call, that.
The referee blows for half time a minute later, and Liverpool head to the dressing room down a goal to last place Leicester City. The Reds have very much been a second half team, however, so hopefully they can got things sorted at the half and come out firing.
As has been the trend, Liverpool come out much more positive to start the second half. Some good hold up play from Katie Stengel and some good pressing from Liverpool see the Reds retain possession for the first couple of minutes in the half. Megan Campbell, of all people, makes a run with the ball from deep and carries the ball all the way to the top of the Leicester City box before the ball is poked away.
Leicester show they are not just going to roll over for the Reds however, and Missy Goodwin shows off her pace on the counter a couple of times. Liverpool are just able to manage the danger both times, but the warning signs are there about the Reds getting too stretched.
Matt Beard makes his first change, bringing on Yana Daniels for Razza Roberts at right wing back. Definitely an change with an eye on ramping up the attack. Roberts was decent, but did struggle a bit to connect with her passing and crossing.
Melissa Lawley makes a brilliant run down the left wing, taking on several players before making it to the end line. She cuts the ball in toward Katie Stengel, but the ball is cleared before it can reach the American.
Lawley again creates an opportunity, this time for herself. She takes the ball from a throw in and drives forward down the middle of the pitch towards the box. Leicester City are late to step to her, so she unleashes a rocket from outside the box, but it is right at Janina Leitzig in goal.
We’re just 55 mintues in, but Liverpool have had 31 throw ins. Megan Campbell is going to need to ice those shoulders down after today.
Taylor Hinds shows the quality of her delivery from the left, sending a dangerous ball into the box. Leitzig has to desperately palm the ball away with several players lurking.
Matt Beard makes a double change in the 60th minute. Natasha Dowie makes her Liverpool debut (again) in place of Katie Stengel, and Sofie Lungard comes on in place of Taylor Hinds. The moves signal a change to a 4-4-2 formation, with Megan Campbell shifting out to left back.
Liverpool immediately get into the attack, and Sofie Lundgard rips a shot with her first touch of the match. The ball is blocked, and Missy Bo Kearns recovers it and sends the ball across goal, but it goes past Ceri Holland.
Liverpool really getting their tails up now. Yana Daniels slips a ball to Missy Bo Kearns down the right wing, and Kearns again puts a cross in toward Ceri Holland. The Welshwoman challenges for the ball, but just loses out on a header in front of net.
HOW DOES THE BALL NOT GO IN THE NET FOR LIVERPOOL?!?!? It again starts with Melissa Lawley, beating a player on the run down the left wing and sending a great cross into the box. Ceri Holland turns it towards goal from close range, but Leitzig makes a brilliant save to keep it out. The ball rebounds to Tasha Dowie, who puts it off the crossbar. The ball is again scrambled towards goal by Sofie Lundgaard, but Holland is flagged for offside on the goal line.
Missy Bo Kearns is whistled for a foul midway into her own half. The free kick is sent in and flicked towards goal, but Rachel Laws is able to catch it on the bounce on the goal line. She gets a counter started quickly, and Melissa Lawley earns another corner on the Liverpool right. Megan Campbell puts it in and the ball is played from the back post to Gemma Bonner who makes an instinctive volley, but the ball goes over the crossbar.
Missy Bo Kearns charges forward again with the ball down the middle of the pitch. She takes a shot from distance while on the run, but her shot goes along the ground and is easily collected by Leitzig.
Leicester City launch a couple of attacks and force Rachael Laws into some emergency action to make a low save followed by palming away a cross-shot. There was some sloppy defending again that gave Leicester the opportunities.
Liverpool again look to spring the counter down the right wing through Melissa Lawley, who races past Ruby Mace. The Leicester City player reaches up and gets two hands to the back of Lawley’s kit and pulls her back for a professional foul. Lawley flicks a hand out towards Mace in frustration. The referee shows both players yellow cards.
Megan Campbell sends the free kick into the box, and Leitzig catches the ball but goes down after being clattered by two of her own players. She stays down for several minutes for treatment but ultimately stays in the match.
Liverpool in desperation mode as the match ticks towards full time. Rachael Laws launches a ball forward to Ceri Holland on the left, and the midfielder earns a foul five yards out of the Leicester City box. Megan Campbell sends the free kick in, but the high ball is controlled by the Foxes.
Melissa Lawley is hacked down on the right wing to earn Liverpool a free kick in a dangerous area. Missy Bo Kearns takes the kick, but fails to beat the first defender. Yana Daniels is then bundled over on the left side in stoppage time, and Megan Campbell is the on to send in a poor free kick. The ball does come out for a throw in, and Campbell again launches it into the box. The ball pops out to Kearns at the far post, and she gets a clean strike on the ball, but her shot comes off the post.
Liverpool get another couple of chances deep into stoppage time, but Leitzig is on hand to gather the ball. One last chance falls to Yana Daniels on the left, but the Dane struggles to get her feet sorted and then lofts the ball to land on top of the net. That’s the last kick of the game as the referee blows the whistle to end the match.
That’s an extremely disappointing result. Yet again, defensive errors and mental mistakes lead to Liverpool being down a goal early. The Reds chased the game hard, and hit the woodwork twice, but were ultimately frustrated by Leicester City’s set piece defense. The Foxes give themselves a chance to avoid relegation with the result, while Liverpool will not feel save with only five points between themselves and the drop zone.