In another well executed but ultimately unlucky display, the Liverpool Women took only a point from the first Women’s Merseyside Derby held at Goodison Park last Friday. Katie Stengel got back on the scoresheet, and Leighanne Robe had the winner but was denied in maybe the softest call ever, but even for the disappointments the performance was lively and controlling from the Reds.
“I thought we played very well in the derby at Goodison Park and I felt we were very unlucky with one or two decisions that went against us on the night,” Women’s manager Matt Beard said in his weekly column for the club.
“It was a good performance from us and I was really pleased. Second half, I thought we were excellent and the way we defended as well, we nullified their threat.
“Apart from Gemma Bonner’s brilliant clearance, Jess Park’s header and their goal which was a cross, I don’t really remember them creating that much to trouble us, so I was pleased with our defensive display, our attitude and application.
“We were disappointed with the two decisions that we didn’t get with the penalty on Yana Daniels and Leighanne Robe’s disallowed goal. On another night, we could have won it, we definitely deserved to win it, but it’s another point on the board.”
A point is a point is a point, especially for a team like Liverpool who are trying to prove the doubters wrong in their anticipation of a relegation return to the Women’s Championship. As it stands, Liverpool Women are currently 8th on the FA WSL table, with 15 points from 15 games played, a solid eight points away from Leicester City at the bottom. That singular point from Friday was thanks in part to Katie Stengel’s equalizer keeping the Toffees at bay, as well as the return of Shanice van de Sanden after a lengthy injury spell.
“It’s so important we keep picking points up because it was a great weekend for us results-wise with the teams below us in the WSL,” the manager continued.
“It was brilliant to see Katie Stengel back on the scoresheet and she deserved that. I’m delighted for her.
“She does so much for the team. I say to her that I’d much rather her be in the box more times but her work ethic for the team is second to none, she brings a lot of players into the game.
“Katie was also unlucky not to score again, it was a good block on the line and then it was a fantastic save to keep her out by Courtney Brosnan.
“It was fantastic for us to be able to call on Shanice van de Sanden again – what a character she is and what a player. We have not had Shanice available for most of this season. If you look at that run we went on before Christmas, we had Shanice coming back from injury then and obviously she got injured in the warm-up before we were due to play Chelsea.
“She is a game-changer. If you look at when she came on and that first burst she made in behind, all of a sudden Everton’s defenders are dropping off because of her presence.
“To have Shanice back is a massive boost for us. She is such a gifted player with great pace and a great personality as well. We are delighted she is back.”
Even with the return of Shanice and Jasmine Matthews, there is still the continued absence of Melissa Lawley and Leanne Kiernan. Lawley suffered another recurrence of the hip injury that has kept her out most of the season, and Kiernan is still a ways away from a return. All focus now turns to a visit to West Ham this upcoming weekend, though, at Beard’s old home stadium.
“On Sunday, we make the trip to the Chigwell Construction Stadium to face West Ham in the WSL (kick-off 5pm BST), which will be our last competitive game until we host Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday April 23,” Beard wrote.
“It’s going to be a good game I think. West Ham are a good team at home and it’s a difficult place to go. We are in a good place at the moment and we will just, as always, concentrate on ourselves.
“The atmosphere is good, we’ve got that belief now I think, and history tells us the points tally we had even before the Everton game is enough to stay in this division.”
With seven matches left, and 21 points on the table, any win is a step in the right direction - away from relegation. As the manager points out, yes we are pretty much safe but that doesn’t mean we can stop pushing.
“Leicester City have six games left and they need to win three of them and also need us not to pick up another point between now and the end of the season. So we are pretty much safe, but what we won’t do is rest on our laurels and we will make sure we will keep working,” the manager reiterated.
“We have got Everton and West Ham, who are just above us, in our sights, so we are winning the mini-league we thought we would be in. Now we want to try to get up to that next block, so hopefully we can put in another good performance on Sunday.
“We need to keep picking points up. That’s the sign of a good team, when you are winning games or drawing games, and we have been consistently picking the points up.”