Liverpool limp into the match with Spurs on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, as well as in the midst of an injury crisis. Spurs, meanwhile come into the match on an 8-match losing streak in league play. In fact, Liverpool start the match two spots higher in the table in eight place.
Matt Beard is forced into somewhat of a makeshift lineup due to several regular starters out with injuries. Niamh Fahey, Jasmine Matthews, and Melissa Lawley miss out for their second match in a row. Gemma Bonner is fit enough to start alongside Leighanne Robe and Megan Campbell in defense, thankfully. Yana Daniels gets the start up top with Katie Stengel in what looks to be a 3-5-2 formation. Liverpool still don’t have enough players to fill out a full bench.
What’s this, Liverpool are on the front foot from the start? What is the block magic?!?!?! The Reds quickly take control of the match, moving it around quickly with an attacking verve we haven’t seen early in the match this season.
Katie Stengel is getting on the ball early, turning defenders inside out on the dribble. The midfielders are getting forward into the box as well, and Ceri Holland makes a marauding run into the left edge of the box before unleashing a driven ball that just misses the far post.
Katie Stengel looks like a woman possessed. She wins a ball on the left flank and drives to the end line with the ball. She cuts it back for the run of Missy Bo Kearns who sees her shot partially blocked. The ball drops right in front of Yana Daniels, who is wide open in front of the net. She is too casual with her shot, looking to just place it in the net without any real power, and the goalkeeper is just able to get across to make a diving save. Liverpool should have been up there.
And of course, Liverpool concede on just Spurs second real attacking move. Rosella Ayane receives the ball with her back to goal outside the top of the box. She turns and rides two challenges before hitting a right-footed shot through traffic, leaving Rachael Laws flat footed as the ball rolls into the corner of the net in the 17th minute.
Liverpool look to get back on track right away, immediately putting pressure on the Spurs defense. Emma Koivisto receives the ball from Fuka Nagano at the top of the 18 yard box and looks to unleash...something. Not sure if it is meant to be a shot or a pass. Regardless, a Spurs defender gets a foot in just as the Finn hits the ball, and it balloons up into the air and drops just over the hand of the goalkeeper and under the bar for a goal!
Liverpool keep the attacking going after the goal, looking to really take the wind out of Spurs sails. Katie Stengel uses her strength to hold off Amy Turner, and the defender wrestles the American as she looks to turn and run past her. The referee has no choice but to show the Spurs player a yellow card. Just minutes later, Stengel again popped up in the box, doing well to rise above everyone and flick a delivery on goal, but the goalkeeper is on hand to make the save.
LIVERPOOL TAKE THE LEAD!!! It’s wonderful interplay from the Reds around the box. Fuki Nagano has the ball just inside the box and turns to face goal, drawing a defender. Rather than taking a shot, she slips a delicious pass to Emma Koivisto, who snuck behind her marker. The wing back cut the ball back to the middle of the box for Missy Bo Kearns, who sweeps her right footed shot past the keeper for a 2-1 lead! Kearns celebrates with what looks like a Craig Bellamy tribute golf swing.
Spurs look to get some momentum back through Beth England. The England international gets a head to a delivery into the box, and the ball pops into the air. It starts to drop just in front of the crossbar, and Rachael Laws is forced to tip the ball over for a corner. The Reds manage to handle the set piece and get control of the ball again.
Megan Campbell goes down on the edge of her own box near the end of the first half and play is eventually stopped to allow the medical staff to see to her. After a few minutes of treatment, she is able to hobble over to the sideline under her own power. She is able to continue, thankfully, and is able to rejoin play as the Reds see out the end of the first half.
Spurs make a sub to start the second half. Drew Spence is removed, with Evelina Summanen taking her place in midfield.
Spurs got right into the attack to start the second half. Just over a minute in, Beth England got the ball on the left and quickly cut into the box on her right foot. She hits a low shot that just goes on the wrong side of the near post into the side netting. That should wake Liverpool up.
Amy Turner his playing with fire while she struggles to deal with the physicality of Katie Stengel. Already on a yellow card, the defender is again beaten and goes to ground to clip the heels of the American. She is whistled for a foul and given a long talking to by the official.
Ceri Holland becomes the second player into the book on the day. She is chasing after Mana Iwabuchi, and her knee clips the Japanese international’s heels, causing her to stumble and go down. Certainly a foul, but a yellow seems pretty harsh for the incidental contact.
Spurs get the free kick into the box, and the ball takes a bounce in front of goal. Amy Turner almost gets something on it, but Rachael Laws is able to collect the ball before any damage is done.
Spurs make a second substitution in the half in the 57th minute as they chase the game. Surprisingly, it’s Beth England who comes off in favor of Celin Bizet Ildhusøy.
The second half has certainly been much more even and scrappier as Spurs try to even the score and Liverpool look to defend the lead. Both teams are called for fouls while snapping into challenges, with the ball turning over time and time again between the tow boxes. Spurs are certainly seeing more of the ball now, with Liverpool looking to hit back on the counter.
Mana Iwabuchi goes down in the Liverpool box and looks to have rolled her ankle. The midfielder receives treatment from the medical team, and eventually hobbles off the field unable to continue. Kit Graham is brought on in her stead in the 70th minute.
With some tired legs on the field, Matt Beard brings on some fresh legs in the 76th minute. Sofie Lundgaard enters the fray in place of Yana Daniels. Meanwhile, captain Taylor Hinds is replaced by Razza Roberts who is returning from a concussion. Roberts goes to right wing back, with Emma Koivisto sliding across to the left.
Spurs are entering desperation time with just over 10 minutes left to play, putting anything they can towards the net. One lofted ball makes it through but is caught and held by Rachael Laws.
Leighanne Robe goes down and needs to receive treatment in her own box. She steps off the pitch as the click ticks over to 80 minutes played, and is able to step on again moments later.
Matt Beard makes another change in the 83rd minute. Goalscorer Missy Bo Kearns steps off the field to a loud ovation, and she is replaced by Miri Taylor.
Taylor is immediately involved as Ceri Holland makes a long clearance up field, and Taylor is able to bring the ball under control and race forward. She isn’t able to outpace a defender and loses the ball near the box, but her run gave the defense a minute to reset and step further upfield.
Liverpool again get the ball forward with a clearance, this time with Katie Stengel winning the ball with her back to goal. She looks to be fouled and lands awkwardly, but the referee allows for play to continue as the ball continues towards Miri Taylor in the box. Taylor doesn’t get much on her shot while under pressure, however, and the ball rolls out for a goal kick. Stengel struggles back up to her feet. She has battled so well today.
Liverpool do well to defend several set pieces over the last few minutes of regular time. Sofie Lundgaard is able to bring a corner kick under her control and send it upfield. A minute later, Spurs are awarded a free kick that they lump into the box, but they are judged to have fouled in the box and Liverpool get their own free kick.
There are EIGHT minutes of extra time for some reason. There have been a couple of stoppages for injuries, but nothing that would seem to warrant that amount of time added on.
Emma Koivisto gets the ball as Liverpool break forward off of a clearance, and the Finn carries the ball towards the left corner to take some time off the clock. She looks to hold off a defender and gets nudged in the back, causing her to knock the ball out of play. The referee awards a throw in rather than a foul.
Rachael Laws catches a lofted ball into the box while under some pressure and does a theatrical fall, clutching her back. The referee stands over her pointing to her watch as Laws attempts to milk precious seconds off the clock.
There’s some desperate defending from the Reds look to see the game out. They manage to poke the ball clear to Katie Stengel, who runs past two defenders and into the box. She has only the keeper to beat, but she puts her shot just past the far post.
Spurs mount one last attack, but they touch the ball last as it goes over the end line for a goal kick. Rachael Laws takes more than enough time for the goal kick, and is shown a yellow card for time wasting before booting the ball forward with the clock ticking past the 98th minute. The referee allows play to go one for more than a minute before blowing for full time!
With the 2-1 win in the books, Liverpool should feel pretty good about their place in the table. Matt Beard’s side stay in the 8th spot in 14 points, 7 points ahead of last place Leicester City. Liverpool will be back in action on Friday for the second edition of the Merseyside Derby this season. This time, the match will be at Goodison Park.