Match Report: Liverpool Ladies 2 – 1 Aston Villa

 Liverpool continued their pre-season unbeaten run this evening with hard-earned victory over WSL2 newcomers Aston Villa.
 While Liverpool enjoyed the majority of possession and the best of the attacking football, credit must be given to Villa’s strong defensive play – particularly during set pieces.
 Following the announcement midweek that winger Nicole Rolser was joining Lucy Staniforth on the side-lines with a long-term injury, development squad striker Ashley Hodsonwas named on the bench.
 Libby Stout was handed her first home start in the Liverpool goal. Lucy Bronze partnered Gemma Bonnerin the centre of defence, with Martha Harris at right back and Corina Schroderon the left.
 Natasha Dowie started up front while Amanda DaCosta returned to the starting line-up after missing out last time through illness, either side of DaCosta were Gemma Davison and Kate Longhurst.
 Liverpool started the game confidently passing the ball around in the midfield, an early Lucy Bronzelong ball forward towards Natasha Dowie caught out by the Villa defence on the edge of the box signalling our attacking intent.
 In the first of a number of Liverpool corners, Kate Longhurst went close after Gemma Bonnerheaded the ball into her path. Another fine game for Longhurst who’s first goal of 2014 somehow continues to elude her! Again inside the first ten minutes, good interplay between her, Dowie and Fara Williams led to Longhurst attempting a volley but the shot sailed over crossbar.
 Seconds earlier Corina Schroder was unlucky not to add to her derby goal last June, the German full-back finding herself in the opposition box and attempting a couple of strikes but there was no way through the staunch Villa defence.
 Liverpool’s Young Player of the Season Lucy Bronze had another outstanding game, this time filling in at centre-back. A number of times in the first half Villa broke down the left side, each time Bronze coming out to comfortably dispossess and clear before they could get the cross in.
 Amanda DaCosta is a critical part of the Liverpool midfield, her absence during the Doncaster friendly was noticeable and the American playmaker certainly made up for it tonight linking up brilliantly with Natasha Dowie and Kate Longhurst and with a number of shots going close to opening the scoring in the first half.

 Despite the Liverpool onslaught, it was Aston Villa who opened the scoring. Jade Richards with the fine finish from a free kick just outside of the 18-yard box.
 The reds didn’t let the goal hold them back and continued to press high up the pitch, putting the defence under pressure. Their hard work paid off after Corina Schroder and Gemma  Davison combined well on the left to put the ball out for a corner, Fara Williams swung the corner into the 6-yard box and the ball was bundled into the back of the net off a Villa defender. At half-time the teams went in level.
 Back out for the second half with no changes for Liverpool, Liverpool continued the way they left off. The player of the match for the Doncaster friendly was new signing Gemma Davison; Davison impressed again this evening displaying her pace and skill perfectly in midfield – setting up an early chance when working her way through a number of players to square the ball wide to Williams. The eventual cross going across the face of goal and out.
 Fara Williams was instrumental in the games winning goal with a fantastic pass picking out Katrin Omarsdottir, the Icelandic confidently slotting the ball past the Villa keeper to put Liverpool in front.
 Natasha Dowie showed during the second half why she is important to Liverpool in more ways than scoring goals, last season’s Player of the Year finding herself out wide on the left wing, taking on the Villa defender to put a storming cross across the 18-yard box that narrowly missed Longhurst.
 The bad weather in the second half slowed the tempo of the game, along with a number of substitutions. Becky Easton replaced Schroder, a trialist came on for Gemma Bonner with last month’s game-winner Ellie Stewart partnering her in the centre of defence after replacing Martha Harris. Lucy Bronze moving out to left back.
 Katie Zelem made an appearance, replacing Amanda DaCosta just after an audacious effort to lob the keeper from near the half-way line went just wide. Ashley Hodson, Liverpool Ladies’ development squad’s leading goal scorer, also came on towards the end of the game. Hodson did have the ball in the back of the net after a Dowie cross, however a free kick was given against Dowie for offside.
 In the dying minutes of the game, Villa had a free kick blocked by the Liverpool wall and the trialist almost scored from a corner with her header going wide.
 Full-time in Widnes: Liverpool 2 – 1 Aston Villa. A fair score line for the visitors following an impressive defensive display.
 POTM: Fara Williams, a fantastic game in the heart of midfield and a sensational pass to set up the winning goal.
 Liverpool: Stout (Gibbons), Harris (Stewart), Bronze, Bonner (C)(trialist), Schroder (Easton), Omarsdottir, Williams, Davison, DaCosta (Zelem), Longhurst (Hodson), Dowie
 In 21 days’ time Liverpool will kick off their 2014 season with an FA Cup tie at Sunderland (Sunday 13thApril).
 For any friendlies in the meantime keep an eye on the official twitter. A week on Sunday (6th April) the development squad welcome Notts County to Halton Stadium in a 2pm KO, all dev. Squad games are free entry and a great way to see the future talent.
 Thanks for reading!

Match Preview: Liverpool Ladies v Aston Villa

Pre-season friendly
6:30pm KO, free entry
Saturday 22nd March, 2014
Select Stadium, Halton, Widnes


 This SaturdayLiverpool Ladies’ will continue their preparations for the 2014 WSL season with a home friendly against WSL2 newcomers Aston Villa.

 Liverpool’s two pre-season games so far this year have seen three goals, scored by Natasha Dowie, Amanda DaCosta and Ellie Stewart, with two clean sheets kept by Danielle Gibbons and new goalkeeper Libby Stout.

 Since the last game here at Halton on Saturday 22nd February the reds received an injury blow when new signing Lucy Staniforth, who had only just made her first start in almost a year since a serious knee injury in The FA Cup final, suffered the same injury again during training – the opposite knee this time – ruling her out for the season before it has begun. *EDIT* Yesterday (20th March) Liverpool announced Nicole Rolser has also suffered the same injury in training, wishing both players the best of luck with their rehab and hopefully we’ll see them back in red shirts soon!

 Over the last couple of weeks 9 Liverpool players have been away with their respective international teams, reds captain Gemma Bonner scoring her first goal for England and Fara Williams twice captaining the Lionesses on their run to the Cyprus Cup final. To see all results from these games, read available match reports and watch any highlights follow this link here International Reds: Results.

 Liverpool’s first pre-season game seen them away at Sunderland, a convincing 2-0 win over last year’s Premier League winners preceded the first home game of 2014 which was a slightly tighter affair.

 An unusual line-up change meant the reds had to lend a keeper to Doncaster each half, Libby Stoutstarting in goal for the Belles and then switching with Danielle Gibbons to guard the Liverpool goal in the second half. Each keeper was in great form, Gibbons continuing her fine performances from the development squad’s season and Stout making an assured home debut.

 Another player making the step up from the development squad was centre-back Ellie Stewart. Stewart’s confidence on the pitch defies her young age and the England U19 international gave a commanding performance when called upon in the second half, scoring the games’ only goal when rising to head home a corner which another development squad graduate Katie Zelem had won.

 Liverpool continued 2014 the way they finished the 2013 season, attractive attacking, passing football utilising the full-backs Lucy Bronze and Corina Schroder who press very high up the pitch. Another winter signing Martha Harris replaced Schroder in the second half and showed just how good Liverpool’s squad depth is now staking her claim for a place in the starting 11.

 Reds vice-captain Amanda DaCosta missed this game through illness, giving Kate Longhurst and Natasha Dowie the chance to work together up front. The former being very unlucky in front of goal with a hat-trick of chances going close. 

 The player of the match as voted for on twitter was Liverpool’s fourth new signing, winger Gemma Davison’s trickery on the wing catching the eye with many bursting runs forward into the opposition box.

 The opposition on Saturday evening Aston Villa are one of ten clubs to be selected to play in the newly created second tier of the Women’s Super League. Villa boast a number of England youth internationals, Sherry McCue played alongside Martha Harris in England U23s recent La Manga tournament while Katie Zelem and Ellie Stewart will know Sarah Mayling, Abbey Leigh and Caitlin Leach from their recent camp with England U19s. Villa will be without new signing Emily Owen who has suffered the same knee injury as Lucy Staniforth.

 Villa have played last year’s WSL runners up Bristol Academy during pre-season already, holding the Vixens to a 1-1 draw so this game promises to be a good test for Liverpool ahead of the season starting up in four weeks’ time.
 On Sunday Liverpool Ladies’ development squad are away at Doncaster Belles, looking to bounce back from last weekend’s 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa where Hannah Dale scored the reds only goal. The next home game for the dev. Squad is Sunday 30thMarch, when Notts County will be visiting Halton. That game kicks off at 2pm and is also free entry.

 Finally yesterday I put something a little different up on the blog, for a recent University module we had to put together a portfolio of articles, one of the pieces I wrote was on Liverpool Homeless Football Club. I wanted to share the article because I think the work being done at the club is brilliant, follow this link here to read the article: Liverpool Homeless FC – “More Than Just A Game”.

 Thanks for reading, hope to see you at the game on Saturday!


 For a recent University module we had to put together a portfolio of articles, one of the articles I wrote was on Liverpool Homeless Football Club. I wanted to share the article because I think the work being done at the club is incredible, thanks to Lisa Thomas for providing me with an interview for the article and the stats! There are some links at the bottom to follow for more information on LHFC.

 Liverpool Ladies midfielder Fara Williams is a patron for Liverpool Homeless FA and coaches the women’s side.

 Amongst the thousands of football clubs in England, competing in various league and cup competitions, there is one striving to make a difference on the lives of its players. Liverpool Homeless Football Club was founded in 2007 and operates a league made up of 18 teams, with players from different hostels and accommodations around Liverpool.

 Initially the club was launched with just 6 teams and was male-only, in recent years this has expanded now to cover the ever-growing women’s game in the country. Lisa Thomas has been a volunteer for the women’s team since November 2012 and her duties for the club consist of arranging games, attending training and matches, managing the social media aspects and maintaining communication between staff and players to name just a few. Recently a game was organised with Merseyside Police, designed to build positive relationships between the two.

 For its players Liverpool Homeless F.C. has the opportunity to change their lives, as Lisa says “there is an infamous quote used by the club – that it is ‘more than just a game’”. This is what sets Liverpool Homeless F.C. apart from other clubs; Lisa adds that as well as forming great friendships with each other and allowing the players to get out of their hostels and accommodation, “the club also support players trying to gain a career out of sport by putting them on the ladder when it comes to coaching badges.”

 Another opportunity available to players is the chance to participate in the Homeless World Cup, a tournament featuring homeless teams from 16 nations. Lisa explains that “anyone who has experienced homelessness within the past two years can attend trials at Manchester United”, here the players are “put through various training sessions and workshops” for the chance to be selected to represent England. Along with Liverpool Homeless F.C. there is a homeless football project in Middlesborough which also provides players.

 The coach of Liverpool Homeless Football Club’s women’s team is Fara Williams. Fara Williams is a full-time professional footballer for Liverpool Ladies and, at the time of writing, has been capped 123 times for England as well as being chosen to represent Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics.

 Lisa Thomas works alongside Fara and says of her involvement that “the right balance is requiredand that is something that Fara definitely offers… the girls benefit from the training drills and sessions provided but most importantly they enjoy attending training where they know they can play with a smile on their face.” Providing the right atmosphere and coach is crucial to the success of the club and there is no better person for this role than Fara Williams, inspirational to the players given how she turned her life around to succeed and use her success to inspire others.

 Players from Liverpool Homeless F.C. have gone on to play football outside of the club, including “two players now signed up by AFC Liverpool Ladies and play football on a weekly basis outside of Liverpool Homeless F.C.” Again displaying the openings that become available, this is where the main emphasis of the club lies and Lisa is keen to stress that “the football is competitive but has a stronger emphasis on inclusion and encouraging fair play, respect and team work.” Allowing the players to build upon their experiences and open new doors for them.

 Through researching the club, the optimism that it breeds is evident. The opportunities it gives those involved to turn their lives around is perhaps unrivalled, whether through the aforementioned coaching badges, help with players health and accommodation or simply to get them off the streets and playing a sport that they love. To the players of Liverpool Homeless Football Club the sport is more than just a game, it’s their lives.


International Reds: Results

 Over the last couple of weeks 9 Liverpool players have featured in 14 international games, all results and available highlights and match reports can be found below!

 Fara Williams twice captained England during their 4-game tournament run and now has a total of 125 international caps, making her just 4 short of the all-time record set by Rachel Yankey last year.

 Four Liverpool players featured in the Cyprus Cup final, with each Fara WilliamsNatasha DowieGemma Davison and Lucy Bronze in the starting line-up.

 Liverpool captain Gemma Bonner scored her first international goal on only her third cap, heading home from a corner during England’s 3-0 victory over Finland.

 Lucy Bronze was deployed at centre-back in each of her two starts, while Natasha Dowie and Gemma Davison also started together twice.

 Martha Harris played in all three of England U23s game at La Manga, England lost twice and drew with Sweden.

 Ellie Stewart and Katie Zelem fared slightly better with England U19s, the Liverpool duo each starting the three games in their La Manga tournament – winning one, drawing one and losing one.

 Match Reports from Iceland’s games are proving difficult to find, if any they may be posted on the official Icelandic website. Katrin Omarsdottir did not start Iceland’s first game against Germany but subsequent team news is not available.

England U19s: Katie Zelem & Ellie Stewart
England U23Martha Harris
England SeniorsNatasha DowieLucy BronzeGemma DavisonGemma Bonner & Fara Williams*
IcelandKatrin Omarsdottir

 Games & Results:

 Saturday 1st March
 England U23 1 – 1 Sweden U23 Match Report / Highlights

 Monday 3rd March
 England U23 2 – 4 Germany U20, Match Report

 Wednesday 5th March
 Japan U23 4 – 0 England U23

 England 2 – 0 Italy, Match ReportHighlightsBBC

 Germany 5 – 0 Iceland Highlights

 Friday 7th March
 Finland 0 – 3 EnglandMatch ReportHighlights

 Norway 1 – 2 Iceland

 Saturday 8th March
 Republic of Ireland 1 – 1 England U19Match Report

 Monday 10th March
 England 2 – 0 Canada, Match Report + Highlights

 China 0 – 1 Iceland

 France 3 – 2 England U19, Match Report 

 Wednesday 12th March
 England 0 – 2 France, Match Report + Highlights

 Iceland 2 – 1 Sweden

England U19 1 – 0 Italy, Match Report


A couple of players from Liverpool’s title winning squad were also at the Algarve & Cyrpus tournaments.

 Sarah Gregorius scored New Zealand‘s winning goal on her 50th international cap against Finland, while Whitney Engen and the USA had a difficult campaign – losing twice and drawing one to finish bottom of their group, eventually placing 7th after beating Korea DPR in their final game.

Full results & available highlights/ match reports:

New Zealand 1 – 1 Republic of Ireland Match Report
New Zealand 1 – 2 Switzerland Match Report
New Zealand 0 – 4 South Korea Match Report
New Zealand 1 – 0 Finland Match Report

USA 1 – 1 Japan Match ReportHighlights
USA 0 – 1 Sweden Match Report/ Highlights
USA 3 – 5 Denmark Match ReportHighlights
USA 3 – 0 Korea DPR Match ReportHighlights

Early next week I have an article to share on here on Liverpool Homeless Football Club. It’s something a little different than my usual ramblings on Liverpool Ladies, but I had to put together a portfolio of articles for University and would like to share it. Liverpool’s Fara Williams coaches the women’s team.

Thanks for reading!