Liverpool Ladies: Season Review

Welcome to LFC Ladies Fans Season Review! Results, analysis, stats and opinions abound.

For further reading;
both on This Is Anfield

Liverpool fixtures & results

17/03/13 (a) Aston Villa     W 5-0     FA Cup   attendance unavailable
23/03/13 (h) Everton Ladies     D 1-1     Continental Cup   attendance 1,432
31/03/13 (a) Sunderland WFC     W 2-1     FA Cup   attendance unavailable
14/04/13 (a) Lincoln Ladies     W 1-0     FAWSL   attendance 509
26/04/13 (h) Arsenal Ladies     L 2-1     FA Cup   attendance 2,008
04/05/13 (h) Doncaster Belles     W 1-0     Continental Cup   attendance 471   
07/05/13 (a) Arsenal Ladies     W 4-0     FAWSL   attendance 2017
12/05/13 (a) Chelsea Ladies     L 2-1     FAWSL   attendance 508
19/05/13 (a) Chelsea Ladies     W 4-0     Continental Cup   attendance 357
29/05/13 (h) Lincoln Ladies     W 3-2     FAWSL   attendance 527
04/06/13 (a) Everton Ladies     W 4-1     FAWSL   attendance 1,124
08/06/13 (h) Birmingham City     W 4-1     FAWSL   attendance 436
03/08/13 (h) Arsenal Ladies     L 3-0     FAWSL   attendance 746
07/08/13 (h) Lincon Ladies     L 1-1*     Continental Cup   attendance 507
10/08/13 (a) Bristol Academy     W 4-3     FAWSL   attendance 1,126
17/08/13 (h) Chelsea Ladies     W 4-3     FAWSL   attendance 488
24/08/13 (a) Doncaster Belles     W 9-0     FAWSL   attendance 139
01/09/13 (a) Birmingham City     W 4-2     FAWSL   attendance 308
04/09/13 (h) Doncaster Belles     W 2-0     FAWSL   attendance 297
12/09/13 (h) Everton Ladies     W 4-2     FAWSL   attendance 1,236
29/09/13 (h) Bristol Academy     W 2-0     FAWSL   attendance 2,165          
* AET 1-1, lost 4-2 on penalties.

W 16 / D 1 / L 4
Total Attendances: 16, 401
Average Attendance: 781

Total Home Attendance: 10,613

Average Home Attendance: 965
First league game away @Sincil Bank, Lincoln

Liverpool goal scorers 

Natasha Dowie: 19     vs Aston Villa, Lincoln x 3, Arsenal x 2, Chelsea x 3, Birmingham, Doncaster Belles x 5, Everton x 3
Nicole Rolser: 12     vs Everton, Birmingham x 5, Bristol x 2, Chelsea x 3, Doncaster
Louise Fors: 10     vs Aston Villa, Everton x 2, Arsenal, Lincoln, Bristol x 2, Doncaster x 2, Birmingham
Fara Williams: 7     vs Aston Villa x 3, Chelsea x 2, Doncaster x 2
Gemma Bonner: 3     vs Bristol Academy, Doncaster, Everton
Katrin Omarsdottir: 3     vs Sunderland, Bristol x 2
Amanda Da Costa: 2     vs Arsenal x 2
Lucy Bronze: 1     vs Birmingham
Kate Longhurst: 1     vs Doncaster 
Corina Schroder: 1     vs Everton
Whitney Engen: 1     vs Chelsea
Lillie Fenlon-Billson: 1 (Now @ Lincoln Ladies)
Own goals: 1
Liverpool have scored 61 goals in 21 games this season, a drastic improvement on last years return of 19 goals in 18 games.
Of the goals scored 21 have come from strikers, 33 from midfield and 6 from defence with 1 own goal.

Champions!
Q&A with Captain Bonner!

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

 Liverpool Ladies were crowned Champions of England for the first time in their 24-year history, scoring 46 goals along the way – a new record for the league. This also means Liverpool will now play first time Champions League football in 2014/15
  Liverpool began the league season away at Sincil Bank, the home of Lincoln Ladies. In windy conditions Natasha Dowie put Liverpool ahead early on and despite many chances we won the game by just one goal to nil.
 Next up for Liverpool was a tough encounter away at reigning champions Arsenal, or so you would think. 2 goals either side of half-time from Amanda Da Costa and 2 more from Dowie and Louise Fors embarrassed Arsenal at the Emirates in their first league defeat since 2011.
Amanda Da Costa scores her 2nd past Arsenal
 Five days later we were back in London again, this time facing Chelsea who like us had strengthened their team over the winter off season. Whitney Engen scored her first Liverpool goal to put us ahead but Chelsea went on to claim victory in controversial circumstances. For their winning goal Engen was clearly fouled in the build up yet this went unnoticed by the referee.
 After the defeat against Chelsea we hosted Lincoln at Halton Stadium in our first home league game this campaign, goals from Natasha Dowie, Fors and an own goal deflected in from a Fara Williams effort meant the reds raced 3-1 ahead. A brilliant goal from Precious Hamilton pulled a goal back for the Imps however Liverpool hung on to take all 3 points.
 Liverpool then made the short trip to Marine FC in Crosby for a mid week derby against Everton, despite a nervy start Liverpool began to dominate possession and capitalised on this when Nicole Rolser slotted the ball home. Everton came out fighting in the second half and their skipper Jill Scott equalised just after half time. The blues didn’t stay ahead for long as the reds ran rampant scoring 3 more goals through Fors, Corina Schroder and Dowie.

                                                 Nicole Rolser opens the scoring on Derby Day
 Our final league game before the break was back at Halton Stadium against Birmingham, for the second time in a week we hit 4 goals past a team in blue. Rolser opened the scoring before Birmingham equalised from a corner. Lucy Bronze ensured we went in at half-time 2-1 up with a thundering header while who else but Natasha Dowie scored our third goal of the game and Nicole Rolser got our fourth.
 Following a disappointing Euro’s campaign for England, the reds restarted the season at home to Arsenal. Unfortunately for us the Gunners were far faster out the blocks than us and we were 2-0 down at half-time. Liverpool played a lot better during the 2nd half, but any hopes of a comeback were crushed after Natasha Dowie’s penalty was saved and Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs added a 3rd.
 A week after defeat to Arsenal and days after a Continental Cup exit on penalties against Lincoln, Liverpool travelled to the now top of the table Bristol Academy needing a win to go back top. Liverpool raced 3-1 ahead with goals from Louise Fors, Nicole Rolser and Katrin Omarsdottir before Bristol pulled it back to 3-3. With under 10 minutes to go the ball fell to Gemma Bonner 40 yards from goal, the Captain let the ball run a couple of yards in front of her before smashing it past the hapless keeper to score the most important goal of the season and win the game.
 The wins then kept on coming, although our next home game against Chelsea started in a similar fashion to that against Arsenal we fell 2 goals behind in 10 minutes. Fara Williams was the catalyst in rallying the troops, trying a couple of long-range efforts before being awarded a free kick in a great position and duly scoring from it as it bounced awkwardly under the Chelsea keeper. At half-time Matt Beard switched keepers, a move which looked to have paid off as Liverpool began to dominate and Nicole Rolser tapped in the equaliser from close range. Unfortunately Becky Easton deflected the ball into the back of her own net but huge credit to the reds never-say-die spirit, Natasha Dowie and Nicole Rolser setting each other up for another hard-earner 4-3 victory.

Celebrating Nicole Rolser’s winner vs Chelsea

 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.

Rachael Laws v Doncaster

 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.

The team celebrate Katrin’s goal v Bristol Academy
The FA Cup

W 2 / D 0 / L 1
  Liverpool began their 2013 FA Cup run away at a muddy Aston Villa, thumping the midlands side 5-0 with a Fara Williams hat trick and goals from Natasha Dowie and Louise Fors.
 Next up was a tough test against Premier League champions Sunderland, Liverpool went ahead through Lillie Fenlon-Billson but Sunderland pulled a goal back. Minutes from time Icelandic midfielder Katrin Omarsdottir scored the winning goal to set up a semi final tie against Arsenal.
 The semi final was a memorable occasion for players and supporters alike, playing at Anfield for the first time the ladies put in a great shift and at times outplayed the strong Arsenal side. The gunners opened the scoring through Ellen White before Natasha Dowie scored a great diving header at the Kop end to bring the scores level before half time. Kim Little was Arsenal’s match winner, taking them into the final with a goal from a counter attack on 52 minutes. Arsenal went on to lift the cup at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium a month later.

Natasha Dowie scores at The Kop
Continental Cup
W 2 / D 1 / L 0

 We began our first competitive home game of the season against Everton in a tie that was screened live on ESPN. Despite heavy snowfall the pitch was cleared in time for kick off and Liverpool went ahead through a Louise Fors penalty. Shortly after Everton won a dubious free kick decision which led to Nikita Parris equalising and the game finished in a 1-1 draw.
 In our next game against Doncaster Belles over a month later we created a lot of chances completely dominating the Belles but somehow managed to score just one goal, Natasha Dowie netting the only goal of the game to take our first 3 points in the competition.
 For the last group game Liverpool travelled to Chelsea to take on the Londoners for the second time in a week, this game followed our 2-1 defeat to them in the league. Liverpool were in inspired form, with Dowie scoring twice and Nicole Rolser and Fara Williams scoring one apiece. This ensured a 4-0 win and to place Liverpool above our Merseyside rivals Everton to finish top of the group. Finishing top means we will host the semi final against Lincoln Ladies at Halton Stadium on Wednesday 7th August.
 Despite dominating the semi-final and taking an early lead when Lucy Bronze set up Natasha Dowie, Liverpool were treated to a defensive masterclass from the Lady Imps as they invited Liverpool to attack and defended with their backs against the wall. After 120 minutes of football and a Lincoln equaliser, it was onto the dreaded penalty shootout. England Number 1 Karen Bardsley saved from both Natasha Dowie and Louise Fors to ensure the last game Lincoln Ladies play will be the Continental Cup final against Arsenal on Friday 4th October, their final game before being rebranded as Notts County.

During the penalty shootout
Player of the Season


 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
 Super Swede Louise Fors was our Player of the Season at the midway point and her displays haven’t falted. Fors is such a classy player on the ball and it has been an honour to watch her play this season.
 Another player it has been an honour to watch has been Whitney Engen. Gemma Bonner’s experienced partner at centre-back has produced brilliant performances over the course of the campaign, most notably in the derby in June. Merely 48 hours earlier Whitney had played 90 minutes in Canada for the USA, a game in which she was named Player of the Match. She then produced another Player of the Match winning performance against Everton.

Whitney Engen with the league trophy
 Highlight of the Season: Cool under pressure Louise Fors stood up to take the penalty against Bristol in the final game of the season – deservedly putting Liverpool ahead.
 Before Liverpool ran riot at the Emirates and while the score was still level at 0-0, Whitney Engen made the greatest goal line clearance I have seen to prevent Arsenal from taking the lead.
 3: Fara Williams

Fara Williams with the league trophy
 Fara Williams is a proven WSL midfielder who was one of many exciting new signings, Williams has been consistently brilliant for Liverpool throughout the season – netting a hat-trick on her debut in The FA Cup.
 Highlight of the Season: When Liverpool went 2-0 down in 10 minutes at home against Chelsea, it was Fara who rallied the troops and was a major part in winning Liverpool the crucial game.
 2: Lucy Bronze/ Nicole Rolser

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

 1:55

 4. Amanda Da Costa’s 1st vs Arsenal (07/05/13).

 0:45

 3. Natasha Dowie’s 1st vs Everton (12/09/13).

 0:30

 2. Katrin Omarsdottir vs Bristol Academy (10/08/13).

 1:00

 1. Gemma Bonner vs Bristol Academy (10/08/13).

 1:50

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

 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.

 All Liverpool upcoming games.

 Liverpool Development Squad.

 Thanks!

 A few thank yous to round off this End of Season Review, first thanks for reading it and congratulations if you got this far! Thanks to everyone who follows on Twitter, I have had a great time this season meeting new friends and introducing old friends to the world of women’s football.

 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!



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