The Liverpool FC Women are all but mathematically assured safety as they enter the match with Manchester City at Prenton Park. The Reds sit 8 points ahead of Reading with both teams having 3 matches left to play. Matt Beard’s side will have a chance to play spoiler against second place Manchester City as they look to stay in the title hunt.
There is good new for Liverpool as both Leanne Kiernan and Niamh Fahey are fit enough for spots on the bench after lengthy layoffs. For Kiernan, it is just the second match she has dressed for this season after suffering a terrible ankle injury in the opening game. Razza Roberts retains a starting role in defense ahead of Leighanne Robe, and Fuka Nagano returns to the pitch after missing out on the match against Chelsea midweek. Faye Kirby starts in net for the second match in a row with Rachael Laws on the bench.
Liverpool gift Manchester City a chance in just the second minute. The Reds calmly pass the ball around the back under pressure and play the ball back to Faye Kirby. The Liverpool goalkeeper has no pressure on her when she tries to thread a pass through to someone further up the pitch but instead plays it right to the feet of Laura Coombs. The Manchester City attacker immediately lofts a ball over the head of Kirby, who is well off of her line, but the goalkeeper just manages to scramble back and palm the ball over the crossbar.
Kirby AGAIN gets herself in trouble just a few minutes later. The 19 year old goalkeeper takes her time on the ball with a Laura Coombs advancing on her, and shifts the ball over to her left foot. She takes a swing at the ball to clear it, but the ball is nipped off of her foot and she instead hits the legs of Coombs, causing the attacker to tumble. Definitely one we’ve seen given as a penalty before, but the referee bails out Kirby and leaves the whistle in her pocket.
Despite some nervy moments early, and plenty of pressure from a motivated Manchester City, Liverpool are staying calm and moving the ball well when in possession. The Reds are finding the wing backs wide with the initial pass to break out of their zone and then finding two or three additional passes to get the ball into the attacking zone. Liverpool are also snapping into tackles high up the pitch in an effort to win the ball back. They look up for it today.
GOAL LIVERPOOL!!!! After the Reds gifted Manchester City a couple of early opportunities, the visitors returned the favor. Goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck plays a simple pass to Lara Coombs from a goal kick, and the midfielder dallies on the ball. Fuka Nagano puts pressure on Coomb who then plays a terrible back pass into the box. Natasha Dowie anticipates the ball and Liverpool races in to calmly slot the ball past Roebuck and give the Reds a 1-0 lead in the 16ht minute!
With that goal, Tash Dowie becomes the first LFCW player to score 20 goals in the WSL. Well in Tash!
Liverpool have their taisls up now. Katie Stengel is making some aggressive runs to get on the ball, whether off of a Liverpool pass or a Manchester City back pass. She almost gets to the end of another defensive error, but the ball is touched away just before she can get to it.
Stengel is throwing her body around as well, and earns a free kick on the right touch line midway into the attacking half. The ball is sent into the box and Stengel gets up for the ball at the back post but can only pop the ball up in the air and out for a goal kick.
Gemma Bonner is staying close to danger woman Bunny Shaw. Anytime the Manchester City player receives the ball, Bonner is on hand to keep her from turning, and other Liverpool defenders are quick to come over and help tackle the ball away.
Liverpool have been doing well not to give Manchester City anything easy, but the Reds are bitten for allowing a simple cross into the box in the 27th minute. Chloe Kelly has the ball on the right wing, and lofts a simple cross to the back post while under pressure from Jasmine Matthews. Lauran Hemp is unmarked at the back post and heads the ball back across the face of goal, over Faye Kirby and drops it just inside the post to tie the match.
Now it is Manchester City who are in the ascendency after scoring a goal. They have opportunities from two corner kicks in quick succession, with the ball almost being tucked in at the back post from the second corner. Just moments later Liverpool misplay a pass back from the attack to the defense, and Lauren Hemp races in on goal. Emma Koivisto does just enough to force Kemp into making a decision, and the attacker attempts to play the ball wide to Chloe Kelly on the right. The Liverpool defenders do just enough to block the initial ball back into the box and scramble it clear.
Liverpool weather the pressure and begin to get back into the match. Emma Koivisto wins battle after battle in a sequence deep down the right flank, but eventually touches the ball out of play. Missy Bo Kearns then races forward to track down a long ball over the top while under pressure a couple of minutes later, but just can’t keep the ball in play when trying to find a supporting teammate.
Scary moment for Gemma Bonner as she challenges for a header near midfield. The Liverpool defender looks to have taken an elbow to the face, and the referee immediately stops play and brings the medical staff on. Bonner is able to get up after a couple of minutes, holding the bridge of her nose. The referee decides it wasn’t a foul and does a drop ball that Manchester City immediately pressure.
Liverpool continue to press high up the field as the first half wears on. Emma Koivisto recovers a ball 10 yards outside the box and attempts a volley from distance. She doesn’t get much power on it, and Roebuck is able to make a comfortable save.
Manchester City look to hit Liverpool on the counter with a perfectly threaded pass to Bunny Shaw. Liverpool defenders do well to drop deep and force an early shot from Shaw on the left side of the box and the ball rolls harmlessly by the far post.
That’s the last opportunity of the half as the teams head to the locker room tied 1-1.
There are no changes from either side as Liverpool get the second half underway.
GOAL LIVERPOOL!!!! What a team goal this was!. It all started with a ball out of the back to Taylor Hinds, who sent it to Katie Stengel. The forward played it back wide to Ceri Holland on the left, and Holland played a delightful crossfield ball. Missy Bo Kearns got a flicked header on the ball to play it all the way out to the right for the run of Emma Koivisto, who gathered the ball and burst towards the end line. She cut the ball back for Kearns, who had made a run into the box, and the Scouser slammed the ball past the goalkeeper and just inside the far post!
Matt Beard makes his first change after the goal, bringing on Shanice van de Sanden for Natasha Dowie. It’s certainly not a
Oh my word, Liverpool come a whisker away from a third! Liverpool do well to defend an attacking move from Manchester City, and play the ball to Katie Stengel, who had dropped into her own half. Stengel turns past a defender and plays a perfect through ball for the run of Shanice van de Sanden. The speedy Dutchwoman flies past her defender to get on the ball and hits a low shot to the far post. Ellie Roebuck gets down and gets her fingertips to the ball to deflect it just wide of the post for a corner kick.
Liverpool are feeling it now. The corner comes in and Liverpool have several players getting up for the ball, coming close to stuffing it in at the far post. Manchester City just manage to get the ball clear.
Liverpool AGAIN come within inches of scoring! Emma Koivisto has the ball on the right flank and sends what looks like a cross into the box. The ball goes over the head of a leaping Roebuck and ends up hitting the inside of the post and back out into the box.
Manchester City make a double change in the 61st minute as they now chase the game and their slim hopes at a WSL title. Hayley Raso and Dyna Castellanos come in as attacking changes for Kerstin Casprerij and Filippa Angeldahl.
Faye Kirby handles a couple of nervy situations well, making sure to control balls in the Liverpool box. A couple of minutes later, however, she gifts Manchester City a chance yet again by playing a simple ball on the ground right to the feet of an attacking player. Liverpool manage to deal with the turnover, thankfully.
Manchester City do well to fashion a shooting chance from inside the box after moving the ball around with some quick passing. Faye Kirby dives low to her left, but the ball goes past her and past the far post for a goal kick. Kirby stays down for a minute to have her knee looked at, but she is able to continue.
Shanice van de Sanden is again played through by Katie Stengel. This time the American does well to head the ball into the path of the racing Dutchwoman, who carries the ball into the box. Ellie Roebuck bravely comes sliding out and takes out both the ball and the player. The referee decides the challenge is fair, but Roebuck stays down after the collision. She requires several minutes of treatment, including getting her left arm wrapped up.
And a yellow card to Roebuck! The referee gives a drop ball for the goalkeeper after she is done with her treatment, and Roebuck ends up walking just outside of her box with the ball still in her hand. The referee has no choice but to show the goalkeeper a yellow card and give Liverpool a free kick just outside the box.
Taylor Hinds fires the free kick low and towards the goal, but the initial shot is blocked. The ball bounces back to her and she has another go at it, but the ball again cannot find its way through to the net. There are several Liverpool players who challenge for the ball in the box, but none can control it and the ball is eventually cleared.
Manchester City get on the attack and Taylor Hinds makes a perfectly-timed sliding challenge in her own box to tackle the ball out for a corner. She stays down for a moment clutching her knee, but she is able to continue.
Matt Beard makes his second change of the match in the 76th minute. Goalscorer Missy Bo Kearns is replaced by Miri Taylor. There is a standing ovation for Kearns as she walks off the pitch.
Shanice van de Sanden reverses roles, this time being the provider of a wonderful through ball for Katie Stengel. The American carries the ball to the right side of the box before cutting it back, but she misplays her pass and the ball is turned over.
Manchester City hit on the counter immediately, but Liverpool do a great job of defending as a unit, forcing the attacking players to turn away from goal and look to find a pass instead of shoot. Razza Roberts is eventually able to step in front of a pass and clear it away.
Taylor Hinds again makes a fantastic tackle while isolated. The Liverpool captain times the move of Deyna Castellanos on the edge of the box to perfection and pokes the ball out for a corner.
Liverpool under some real pressure from Manchester City, turning away opportunity after opportunity. Manchester City finally get a shot away by Lauren Hemp and it comes down off the underside of the crossbar and bounces down on the goal line. Liverpool quickly knock the ball behind, and the referee signals for a corner kick rather than a goal. Very nervy moments.
Liverpool are looking to take the ball to the corner anytime the break forward now as the clock ticks towards the 90th minute. There is going to be a lot of extra time, so might be a bit early for that. Would rather see the Reds look to hold the ball up and try to keep some possession.
Liverpool make their final change of the match as the clock ticks over into injury time. Sophie Lundgaard comes on for Katie Stengel as the 4th official raises the board to show 9 minutes of extra time. Eep.
Faye Kirby does brilliantly to make a fingertip catch of a dangerous cross. Liverpool then throw bodies in the way of a goalbound shot from close range by Bunny Shaw to deny the Jamaican a certain goal. Kirby again does well to make sure she comes down with a deep cross.
Manchester City make one final change after Lauren Hemp has calf cramps. She is replaced by Leila Ouahabi in the 97th minute.
Liverpool get everyone behind the ball and force it wide. Chloe Kelly takes a poor touch and the ball goes out for a Liverpool throw in the 98th minute. Almost there...
The Reds soak up the pressure from the last couple minutes of desperate balls pumped towards the box by Manchester City, and have a goal kick in the 100th minute.
AND THERE’S THE FINAL WHISTLE!!!
Wow, what a performance by Liverpool! Despite being gifted the opening goal, it was a deserved win by the Reds. Liverpool could have easily broken the match open in the second half with the chances they had after Missy Bo Kearns scored what would become the match winner.
And with the win, Liverpool are now mathematically ensured safety from relegation! The win also gives the Reds a 5 point lead over West Ham for 7th place in the table. The Reds will have next weekend off, and will head to Aston Villa on May 21 for their penultimate match of the season.