Match Preview: Liverpool Ladies v Lincoln Ladies & The FA Cup Final (BAWFC v ALFC)

 This Wednesday Lincoln Ladies make the trip to Halton Stadium in search of their first league win this season. This game sees the start of a busy couple of weeks for Liverpool, for more information please see my previous blog here.

 Liverpool go into this game sitting 3rd in the league but with a game in hand over second placed Chelsea. We have played three away games since our last game at Halton, the first of which being an emphatic 4-0 win over reigning champions Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. This ended Arsenal’s unbeaten league run which dated back to July 2011. People pointed to the fact Arsenal had a few players out injured but there was only two changes to the starting line up that beat us a couple of weeks earlier at Anfield. From the match reports and the two minute highlights video we get, Liverpool were clearly the more clinical team on the night coupled with top class defending unlike the Gunners. Whitney Engen’s goal line clearance could be watched over and over again and you would still be in awe every time! Amanda Da Costa scored the first two goals of her Liverpool career, Natasha Dowie and Louise Fors grabbed the other two.

 After the Arsenal victory it was back to London again looking for a third straight league win, a win over Chelsea would have kept us at the top of the table. Liverpool started brightly taking and early lead through Whitney Engen (or Egan if you’re the commentator on the  FAWSL highlights video) and Nicole Rolser’s goal bound strike was only just tipped over by the Chelsea keeper. Jakobsson equalised for Chelsea shortly before half time. Liverpool sustained their first half pressure after coming out for the second half, however despite a clear foul on Whitney Engen in the build up Chelsea took the lead with an Eni Aluko goal. Great goalkeeping from Linn prevented Liverpool from getting a goal back the game finished 2-1 Chelsea.

 The third of our games seen us at Chelsea for a second weekend running, this time in the Continental Cup with Liverpool needing just a point to reach the semi finals. From the whistle Liverpool were never just looking for a point and quickly wreaked revenge on Chelsea. Nicole Rolser finally scored her first Liverpool goal, an in form Natasha Dowie scored twice bringing her season tally up to an impressive 7 goals in 9 games and Fara Williams rounded off the scoring with a brilliant free kick. The 4-0 victory seen us qualify for the semis in style at the top of our group and set up a semi final at Halton Stadium against Lincoln Ladies to be played 7th/8th August.

 Onto the opposition then; Lincoln have had a mixed start to their season. They have done brilliantly in both cup competitions, only getting knocked out of The FA Cup in the semis against Bristol and setting up a Continental Cup semi against us despite their tough group of Arsenal, Bristol and Birmingham. They have yet to win a game in the league however and will no doubt be in search of 3 points in this game. Of their last 5 games they have lost just once and if not for a wonder goal from Steph Houghton, Lincoln could have claimed Arsenals second league defeat of the season.

 Lincoln have quite a young side but also boast the experience of England captain Casey Stoney and England No 1 Karen Bardsley amongst their ranks. Jess Clarke will be a constant attacking threat on the wing, providing the service for front woman Carla Cantrell. Our previous game against Lincoln at Sincil Bank was won by a Natasha Dowie goal and finished 1-0, this game should be a similarly close encounter.

The  FA Cup Final

 To verge off topic from  Liverpool now, yesterday I attended The FA Cup Final to see Bristol attempt to overcome Arsenal. It was a fantastic day out in Doncaster. I always love meeting fellow supporters and during the game I sat with 4 Arsenal supporters whilst silently hoping for a Bristol win! The game itself was good, I was disappointed with Bristol’s Laura del Rio starting on the bench but apparently she was carrying an injury and she did come on with about 15 minutes to go.

 Arsenal opened the scoring within 2 minutes to immediately put Bristol on the back foot. Bristol’s defence was poor and it was only thanks to an excellent performance from Bristol goalkeeper Siobhan  Chamberlain that the scoreline was kept to less than what it could have been. Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs gave a great performance and deservedly won player of the match. Bristol’s travelling support also deserves a mention for continuing to sing despite their team being 3-0 down. The only dampeners on the day were Lucy Staniforth’s injury and the treatment of the Doncaster Belles supporters. More on that can be found here.

 Highlights of my day included hearing the Bristol supporters singing “4-0 at The Emirates” to the Arsenal team as they got off their bus, Alex Scott spying my Liverpool shirt and saying “oh no don’t remind me about that” and finally two 5 year old Arsenal supporters asking me what drug testing was thanks to Grace McCatty!

 While I thoroughly enjoyed the final I would obviously have preferred to have seen Liverpool there but there is always next year and we still have the Continental Cup to play for!

Hope to see a few of you at the game on Wednesday, KO is 7:30pm and as always tickets available at the gate for a fiver!

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