The Liverpool FC Women traveled to Leicester looking to cement their place in the WSL for next season against the relegation-threatened Foxes. Matt Beard’s side came into the match in a good run of form being unbeaten in four matches, with wins over Spurs and Brighton as part of that stretch.
Beard started with the same lineup that beat Brighton the last match out. Liverpool had a short bench, including two goalkeepers, with Melissa Lawley being shut down for the season after a hip operation. Niamh Fahey, Leanne Kiernan, Yana Daniels, and Megan Campbell were all missing due to injuries as well.
The opening stages of the match were quite sloppy from both teams, with neither side able to keep control of the ball through midfield. It was Leicester City who began to take control of the match after the first 10 minutes, getting the ball into the Liverpool zone more and more frequently.
The Foxes broke through in the 15th minute thanks to a massive deflection. It all started from a short corner routine that Liverpool failed to clear. Leicester City were able to move the ball to Josie Green just inside the box, and her shot took a massive deflection off the leg of Missy Bo Kearns with Rachael Laws wrongfooted.
Leicester City doubled their lead just six minutes later. Liverpool turned the ball over in the attacking half and the Foxes looked to counter quickly. Carrie Jones tried a speculative shot from outside the D that skimmed off the leg of Jasmine Matthews. Unfortunately for Liverpool, the deflection saw the ball loop up just enough to clear the hand of a leaping Rachael Laws and clip the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
While Liverpool may have felt hard done to be down 2-0 early in the match off of two deflected shots, Leicester City were more than earning the lead with their play. While Liverpool struggled to put passes together and keep control of the ball, Leicester City put Liverpool’s goal under siege. Over the next 20 minutes of the first half, the Foxes saw one come off of the post with another cleared off the line.
Matt Beard made three changes at half time in an attempt to jump start his team. Razza Roberts, Sofie Lundgaard, and Gemma Bonner all come on the pitch in place of Ceri Holland, Shanice van de Sanden, and Leighanne Robe.
Unfortunately for Beard, Leicester City scored off of another corner kick just three minutes into the half. Ashleigh Plumtre floated away from Razza Roberts as the ball came into the box and leaped over Natasha Dowie to put a flicked header past Rachael Laws.
Liverpool made a valiant attempt to get back into the match after going down 3-0. Katie Stengel used he strength to hold off a defender in the box before making a nice turn to get a shot away, but the ball was right at the goalkeeper.
Stengel had another opportunity shortly after, making a great late run to get on the end of a deep cross from Emma Koivisto. The American got across the face of her defender, but again put the ball right at the goalkeeper.
Liverpool had their best opportunity from a corner kick. Missy Bo Kearns sent the ball into the box where it was met by Razza Roberts. The Welsh defender saw her header tipped onto the crossbar by Janina Leitzig. A scramble in the box saw the ball eventually fall to Gemma Bonner who juggled the ball to herself to turn and hit a volley goalbound, but the shot lacked power and was saved again by Leitzig.
Emma Koivisto also came close to finding the back of the net after some nice ball movement by the Reds. It all started with the Razza Roberts out of the back, with the ball moving through Miri Taylor, Emma Koivisto, Carla Humphrey, Katie Stengel, and Taylor again before the ball was played in for the run of Koivisto. The Finnish right back hit her shot to the far post, but Janina Leitzig made a fantastic diving save to push the ball past the post.
Despite Liverpool’s period of attacking pressure, it was Leicester City who closed the match out with a goal in stoppage time. Liverpool failed to clear the ball off of a simple throw in, and Courtney Nevin was given plenty of time to put a cross into the box. Missy Goodwin beat Taylor Hinds to the ball and powered a header past Rachael Laws to give the Foxes a 4-0 win.
It was an extremely disappointing result for Liverpool. While the Reds are still very likely set to stay in the WSL for another season, a win over the bottom side would have cemented their position. Now Matt Beard and his team face a very difficult final run of fixtures starting with an away match to title-contenders Chelsea on Wednesday. Liverpool will also face the other two teams in the title race, Manchester United and Manchester City at home, with a trip to 5th place side Aston Villa mixed in.