After 4 straight wins, Liverpool Ladies slipped to a 1-0 defeat away to Manchester City Women earlier this afternoon.
Liverpool were missing 3 players, with Ellie Stewart, Katie Zelem and Martha Harris in Canada preparing for the U20 World Cup with Engand. However the reds were boosted by the return of Claudia Walker who returned to the first-team squad after her recent spell with England U19s. Also amongst the substitutes was U17 FA Cup winner Mollie Green, who made the step up to the development squad in April and impressed over the last couple of months of their season.
Libby Stout started in goal, with the back four of Lucy Bronze, captain Gemma Bonner, Nina Frausing and Corina Schroder in front of her. Fara Williams, Amanda DaCosta, Katrin Omarsdottir and Gemma Davison made up the midfield with Kate Longhurst and Natasha Dowie up front.
Libby Stout was immense for Liverpool throughout the 90 minutes, time and time again coming out of her box to clear from the City attack. For the opening 10 minutes City pushed forward testing the Liverpool defence but Stout had them organised well and they could find no way through.
Liverpool began to force themselves into the game, a Fara Williams free kick saw a glancing header by Katrin Omarsdottir headed just wide. Minutes later Amanda DaCosta tried to lob a ball over the blues back four for Natasha Dowie to chase but Karen Bardsley got there first.
Corina Schroder made a number of runs forward on the left-wing, working hard to get crosses in and winning an early corner but Gemma Bonner couldn’t get on the end of Williams‘ delivery.
Kate Longhurst was then involved in a couple of good Liverpool attacks, Gemma Davison making a pacy run through the centre of the pitch and finding Longhurst of the edge of the area; her low ball into Dowie on the edge of the 6-yard box was cut out. Longhurst then almost got on the end of a DaCosta cross but the City keeper again got out to collect.
The only goal of the game came after Amanda DaCosta headed away a corner, Joey Johnson picked up on the loose ball and fired a strike from outside the box. The shot looked to be going wide before deflected off a couple of players still inside the box and sailing over the line.
Liverpool’s defence then stepped up a gear, with Gemma Bonner doing well to win back possession and drive the ball forward. Lucy Bronze was pressing high up the pitch, first trying to get the ball across to Natasha Dowie and then winning a corner which was cleared.
It was thanks to Libby Stout that the reds went in at half-time just a goal down, after winning possession in midfield City breached the Liverpool defence and spotted the Liverpool No.1 off her line. The lobbed shot was excellently saved by Stout as she got back and tipped the ball wide.
The second-half continued the way the first-half carried on, with not many clear cut goal opportunities from either side.
Kate Longhurst continued to work hard attempting to link Liverpool’s midfield with the attack, Longhurst winning an early second-half corner with herself and Nina Frausing almost getting on the end of it. Longhurst was instrumental in another Liverpool attack minutes later, getting the ball back to Fara Williams who looked to be fouled but the referee waved play on.
Liverpool’s greatest chance to equalise came after Gemma Davison took on a number of players in the City box; unable to get a strike in herself, Davison turned and passed back to the incoming Katrin Omarsdottir but the Iceland agonisingly shot wide.
In terms of the league table, the defeat leaves Liverpool in the same position – 3rd behind Birmingham and Chelsea. Now level on points with Manchester City, the reds remain in 3rd on goal difference. Next up for Liverpool will be Chelsea on 9th August, with 5 points separating the 2 teams this will be Liverpool’s biggest game of the season and one they will need to win to ensure the gap in the table does not widen.
XI: Stout, Bronze, Bonner (C), Frausing, Schroder, Williams, Katrin, DaCosta, Davison, Longhurst (Easton), Dowie
Unused subs: Gibbons, Dale, Green, Hodson, Walker
POTM: Fara Williams, consistent in midfield and worked hard throughout the 90 minutes. Libby Stout a close second.
Liverpool’s on-loan left-back Megan Alexander started for Oxford today, despite losing 2-1 to Watford it sounded like Alexander had a good game in her first start – clearing a shot off the line and creating opportunities going forwards.
To finish off, I am going to be in the USA for 10 days from Tuesday so my twitter account may be a bit quieter than normal! Stick with me, I do have wifi in the hotel(s) so will be sharing the news – if any – during the international break as soon as I can. While over there I am going to see Washington Spirit take on Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL, which I am very excited about!
Thanks for reading!