Liverpool Ladies beat Doncaster Belles 3-2 earlier this evening in their final Continental Cup group game. The reds fate in the competition will now be decided by results in other groups over the coming days.
Matt Beard made just the one change in the starting 11, with Kate Longhurst returning in place of Martha Harris. Katrin Omarsdottir also returned to the Liverpool bench, replacing Claudia Walker who is away on international duty with England U19s.
6 days ago the reds raced to a 7-0 lead away at Durham before conceding a penalty in the final minutes. During the first-half against Doncaster, they picked up where they left off.
Gemma Davison was in electric form, playing predominately down the middle and behind the front two of Kate Longhurst and Natasha Dowie. The front three playing brilliantly together, creating chances and making off-the-ball runs. Davison had the first chance of the game, Longhurst laying the ball off perfectly on the edge of the area and the strike only just going over the crossbar.
Kate Longhurst then seen a couple of chances of her own, first shooting wide following a Dowie through ball and then seeing a shot blocked – heading the ball back down to Dowie who shot wide. The attacking trio were well supported by Fara Williams, Amanda Da Costa and Katie Zelem, with some fantastic passing play during the first 45 minutes.
Natasha Dowie hit a double against Durham last weekend and struck twice again this evening; Katie Zelem with the assist for the first, continuing her fine start to life in the Liverpool first-team with another solid performance. Dowie‘s second was the third of the game, latching on to a loose ball and making no mistake to finish low past the Doncaster keeper.
In between the two Dowie goals, Amanda Da Costa scored her first goal of 2014. Davison with the run into the 18-yard box after Corina Schroder set her up, her strike was saved but only as far as Da Costa who was on hand to put the ball into the back of the net.
Liverpool went in at half-time 3-0 up and cruising, playing some of the best football they’ve displayed in 2014 so far.
Credit to Doncaster Belles who never gave up and fought their way back into the second-half, rewarding their brilliant travelling support with a couple of goals of their own.
Gemma Bonner and Nina Frausing are forming a good partnership in the middle of the Liverpool defence, Bonner coming under pressure a couple of times but doing well to get the ball out to Frausing to clear.
Early in the second-half Liverpool saw a couple of chances to extend their lead go wide, Fara Williams with a great ball to find Kate Longhurst on the edge of the area. Longhurst found Dowie but the return pass went out for a goal kick. Minutes later Williams‘ corner narrowly missed the head of Lucy Bronze.
Both of Doncaster’s goals came from free kicks, the first being swung in low by Sue Smith around the reds wall to be headed past Libby Stout by Beth England. Jessica Sigsworth added a second for Doncaster to make the final 10 minutes a tense one for the reds as the Belles continued to press for an equaliser
Hannah Dale and Katrin Omarsdottir replaced Katie Zelem and Gemma Davison midway through the second-half, while Becky Easton came on for Kate Longhurst as Liverpool switched to three at the back – with Lucy Bronze and Corina Schroder playing as wing-backs.
Liverpool comfortably seen out the victory in the final minutes of the game and will return to league action on Wednesday with an important derby against Everton Ladies – 6:30pm kick off.
XI: Stout, Bronze, Bonner (C), Frausing, Schroder, Williams, Da Costa, Zelem (Dale), Davison (Katrin), Longhurst (Easton), Dowie
POTM: Gemma Davison (Natasha Dowie & Katie Zelem both coming a close second)