Welcome to LFC Ladies Fans Season Review! Results, analysis, stats and opinions abound.
Liverpool fixtures & results
Total Home Attendance: 10,613
Liverpool goal scorers
Katrin Omarsdottir: 3 vs Sunderland, Bristol x 2
|Gemma Bonner parades the trophy at Anfield!|
Q Congratulations on a fantastic season, what has been your highlight of the year?
The highlight has to be winning the league without a doubt. It makes all the sacrifices and hard work that everyone puts in throughout the season worthwhile.
Q At the start of the year did you expect to be lifting the FAWSL trophy at the end of the campaign?
Looking at the calibre of players that were brought in at the beginning of the season and the structure that was in place we knew we could challenge at the top if we put in the work. The winning mentality of the players has played a massive part this season.. Bristol away and Chelsea at home are two games that stand out in particular winning the games in the last minutes.
Q What are you most looking forward to about playing Champions League football?
Everything! 🙂 The opportunity to test ourselves against other top teams in Europe is an exciting prospect and one which we are all looking forward too!
Q Finally, what are your targets for next season?
Obviously want to defend our title but we were disappointed to be knocked out in both cup semi-finals so will be looking to improve on that also!
FA Women’s Super League
W 12 / D 0 / L 2
The final two away trip of the season seen Liverpool score 13 goals and concede just 2, the first of those against Doncaster Belles were thanks to Natasha Dowie’s first half hat-trick, a brace from Fara Williams and a goal each for Gemma Bonner and Louise Fors the Ladies went in 7-0 up against the Belles who had been reduced to 10 players. Nicole Rolser scored the 8th of the game following half-time and Kate Longhurst scored her first Liverpool goals to complete the 9-goal rout.
One week later we were in Birmingham, where a Nicole Rolser hat-trick suddenly meant the threat to Natasha Dowie’s Golden Boot came from within! Louise Fors also scored a brilliant free kick and although Birmingham managed to score twice it was Liverpool who capped an impressive away record in the league winning 6 and losing 1.
For the last 3 league games, Liverpool had 3 home ties to look forward to to finish their season off. Doncaster Belles came to Halton Stadium on the back of their first league win and almost holding Arsenal to a draw, the difference in morale was evident and despite Liverpool winning 2-0 – goals from Natasha Dowie and Louise Fors – the Belles tested our defence with goalkeeper Rachael Laws having a storming game between the post to keep a clean sheet.
Natasha Dowie scored a hat-trick against former club Everton in the last derby of the season, including a brilliant chip to equalise after Nikita Parris had put them in front. Dowie’s 2nd put Liverpool in front for the first time during the match, before young Everton midfielder Parris scored her second, a fantastic goal to draw the score level. Gemma Bonner scored her second crucial goal of the season and Dowie completed her hat-trick for the final score to be Liverpool 4 – 2 Everton.
Before the final game of the season, The FA announced that Arsenal Ladies were to be deducted 3 points thus making the last day fixture of Liverpool Ladies v Bristol Academy a straight shootout for the league title. It also confirmed that both sides will participate in the Champions League 2014/15, for Liverpool this will be the first time in our history.
Onto the final day then, nerves were paramount – Liverpool needed just a point while Bristol needed to win. The Vixens brought a strong and vocal travelling support but Liverpool were the better team from the starting whistle. Bristol keeper Siobham Chamblerlain the sole reason the scoreline wasn’t higher than it was. Nicole Rolser was brought down in the box for Louise Fors to cooly send her penalty past Chamberlain before Katrin Omarsdottir scored the final goal of the season, a Whitney Engen free kick was superbly knocked back by Natasha Dowie for the Icelandic midfielder to tie up the title for Liverpool.
Natasha Dowie of course won the Official Supporters Player of the Year, however I also put a vote out on Twitter and Facebook for the purposes of this End of Season review. Below you can find a countdown of the Top 5 (with two ties in 2nd and 4th place!) and it is a testament to the squad Matt Beard has assembled that the majority of players were mentioned at least twice. For a Player by Player guide please see Part 2 of my This Is Anfield Champions Review.
5: Gemma Bonner
|Gemma Bonner with the league trophy|
Liverpool’s inspirational leader, a rock at the back and calm under pressure. Earned a well-deserved England call up and made her debut against Turkey in September during the Lionesses 8-0 win.
Highlight of the Season: THAT goal! With the scores tied at 3-3 and needing a goal from anywhere to go back top of the league, it was the Liverpool captain who scored the most important goal of the season and claiming the league Goal of the Month.
4: Louise Fors/ Whitney Engen
|Louise Fors after victory over Bristol|
|Whitney Engen with the league trophy|
|Nicole Rolser (L) with Corina Schroder & their medals|
Another tie at second place, Nicole Rolser has been a thorn in the side of every team faced this season. Able to play on the left, right, through the middle and at times appearing to occupy all 3 positions at once. Nicole is the WSL and Liverpool’s 2nd highest scorer and has also provided as many (if not more) assists as she has goals.
Lucy Bronze is a player who has just gotten better and better over the course of the season. Lucy started the year on the bench but forced her way into the starting 11, she has also deputised at centre back in the absence of both Whitney Engen and Gemma Bonner. Bronze has bags of energy and spends the entire 90 minutes racing up and down the right wing regularly assisting the attack.
|Lucy Bronze celebrating winning the league!|
Highlight of the Season: A wonderfully taken hat-trick in Liverpool’s last away game of the season at Birmingham City meant Nicole Rolser finished her first season in England second in both Liverpool and the league’s goalscoring charts. Rolser also scored twice past Birmingham in the home fixture back in June.
Lucy Bronze has enjoyed a great season at right back assisting goals along the way, including Natasha Dowie’s strike in the first minute against Lincoln. In August’s 2-0 home victory over Doncaster Belles Bronze cleverly skipped past a number of Belles, cutting into the box to set up Louise Fors for the second goal. Has one goal to her name this year after netting a thumping header against Birmingham in June.
1. Natasha Dowie
|Natasha Dowie meets the league trophy|
Supporters Player of the Season, FAWSL Golden Boot winner, Liverpool’s top scorer and now LFCLadiesFans Player of the Season! The accolades keep on coming for Natasha Dowie who deservedly topped the vote, her performances this season have been a revelation.
An incredible signing for Liverpool Ladies, Natasha scored 19 times in 21 appearances – when you take into account that last season the whole team managed 19 goal between them that feat becomes all the more impressive. Dowie’s 19 strikes have come in all shapes and sizes – with her head, tap-in’s, cheeky chips and perfectly taken goals in one-on-one’s with the keeper.
With 10 goals by the midway point of the season it was both a shock and a disgrace that Natasha was not included in England’s squad for the Euro’s. Following Hope Powell’s sacking however Dowie has featured in both England games under interim manager Brent Hills and has scored in each of those games.
As well as being a proven goalscorer, Natasha works incredibly hard for the rest of the team, her hold up play is unrivalled and she sets up almost as many goals as she scores – most notably the last goal of the season as she cleverly knocked Whitney Engen’s free kick into the path of the oncoming Katrin Omarsdottir.
Highlight of the Season: Impossible to choose just one, scoring against the Kop at Anfield, a hat-trick against former club Everton, a brilliantly chipped goal against Chelsea, setting up Katrin for the final goal of the season, scoring her first England goal, a strike in the 4-0 win at the Emirates and winning the WSL’s Golden Boot.
Goal of the Season
At the midway stage of the season, Amanda Da Costa’s first goal versus Arsenal was our Goal of the Season. Since the break (and although Da Costa’s goal is still one of my personal favourites) there has been many more fantastic strikes. See below for a countdown of the Top 5!
5. Fara Williams’ 2nd vs Doncaster Belles
4. Amanda Da Costa’s 1st vs Arsenal (07/05/13).
3. Natasha Dowie’s 1st vs Everton (12/09/13).
2. Katrin Omarsdottir vs Bristol Academy (10/08/13).
1. Gemma Bonner vs Bristol Academy (10/08/13).
The Rest of the League
2. Bristol Academy
Bristol Academy are a credit to the WSL, boasting brilliant gates and travelling support throughout the season. They also have one of the leagues best strikers in Natalia who has been brilliant for the Vixens since her winter move. Goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain is another highlight in the team and is the only player (over the entire league) to play every minute of every game over the last 3 seasons.
3. Arsenal Ladies
A disappointing season for Arsenal Ladies by their own high standards, a 3 point deduction for fielding an ineligible player in their 3-0 win over us meant for the first time in 10 years they would not be the top team in English Women’s Football and lost a place in the 2014/15 Champions League. Despite the league campaign Arsenal added The FA Cup and the Continental Cup to their trophy cabinet. The future is also bright for the Gunners, a number of their young players have had great seasons – Jordan Nobbs and Danielle Carter – and from next year they will switch to training 4 times a week.
4. Birmingham City
Last years runners up also had a disappointing season, an early mauling at home from Arsenal set the tone for the blues campaign and they were all but out of the battle for the Champions League spots by the time the European Championships came around. Performances after the break did improve slightly as Birmingham tried out their youth including impressive Melissa Lawley – surprisingly dropping lead scorer Rachel Williams to the bench, Williams barely featured in the final few games.
5. Everton Ladies
|Everton’s Nikita Parris|
Another team in the WSL that have relied heavily on youth, Everton have been a little unlucky with some results this season – playing out 0-0 draws at home with Doncaster Belles and Birmingham City and a strongly contested 4-3 loss to Bristol. Nikitta Parris is a future England star along with young keeper Lizzie Durack (who is now at College in the USA), Toni Duggan is the toffees leading striker and scored her first England hat-trick in the 8-0 victory over Turkey in September.
6. Lincoln Ladies
From next season Lincoln Ladies will be rebranded as Notts County and will be training 5 times a week. Poor league form has been countered by a good run in the Continental Cup, where the Lady Imps beat us on penalties to reach the final. Lincoln have been criticised this season for ‘parking the bus’ on a number of occasions but they have a defensive game plan which is generally executed to perfection – most notably versus us in the semi and during two displays against Arsenal. Like Bristol, Lincoln enjoy a brilliant travelling support and it will be interesting to see what happens next year with their transformation.
7. Chelsea Ladies
Over the winter Chelsea were almost as active as Liverpool in the transfer window, signing world class players such as Sofia Jakobsson and Brazilian Ester. Unlike Liverpool however, Chelsea failed to make it work on the pitch. Even signing World Cup winner Yuki Ogimi couldn’t help to spark their season and they finished second from bottom, Jakobsson and Ester left before the season end citing poor training facilities as the main reason.
8. Doncaster Belles
Told after just one game of the campaign that no matter the course of their season, they would be relegated to next years newly formed WSL 2. The plucky Belles set about wanting to prove the FA wrong but no doubt were distracted by matters off the pitch. The Belles Noisy Fans (noisy by name and nature!) have been a credit to the club, unwavering in their loyal support and dedication. Hopefully we will see Doncaster bounce straight back up to the top tier.
Next season sees the introduction of a second tier to the Women’s Super League. A welcome addition which will allow promotion and relegation between the two leagues. Two new entrants into the top tier are the aforementioned Notts County and Manchester City. The rumours have already started flying around about who City may be signing and with both sides due to be training full-time they will definitely add competition to the WSL.
|Becky Easton lifts the league trophy in front of The Kop|
Liverpool will begin next season as defending Champions and also have the Champions League 2014/15. If we can keep the majority of the squad together then next year could be even bigger for us, the taste of being Champions and having a year of playing together should work in our favour and it would be nice to add another trophy to our league title.
Liverpool Ladies Development Squad
While the first team’s season is now over, the development squad’s has just begun. They kicked off their season last Sunday at home with a 3-1 victory over Doncaster Belles. Follow @LFCLadies for news on when the dev. squad will be playing, I will also hopefully share their results on @LFCLadiesFans and am hoping to get to a few of their games!
Their next game is in the cup away at Manchester City, full details of the league and upcoming games can be found here: FA Development League.
Thanks to the whole team and coaching staff for a great season!
Thanks to Matt and Max at This Is Anfield for giving me a great opportunity to write about the Ladies for their website. All my articles for TIA can be found here: Liverpool Ladies.
Thanks to David Cottrell and Kelsey Maxwell from LFC magazine for featuring the blog in the magazine, very surreal moment to get a magazine you’ve bought since you were 11 that features yourself!
On twitter I will hopefully be able to provide news on the Ladies over the off-season, be that international duty, any new signings etc.
Thanks again for reading!