Liverpool Ladies picked up the most important 3 points of the season so far earlier tonight with a 2-0 victory over Chelsea Ladies.
Lining up with one change from their last outing against Manchester City, Becky Easton coming in for Amanda DaCosta to join Nina Frausing and Gemma Bonner in the centre of defence. Lucy Bronze and Corina Schroder given more freedom with this formation to push on up the wings. Natasha Dowie led the line for the reds upfront with Kate Longhurst, Gemma Davison, Katrin Omarsdottir and recent England record breaker Fara Williams in midfield. Libby Stout started in goal.
From the opening whistle Liverpool were looking to put Chelsea on the back foot and press forward, Fara Williams spotting the run of Corina Schroder on the left and attempting to pick her out but the ball was intercepted and won back seconds later following a good challenge from Katrin Omarsdottir.
Utilising the wing-backs in the new formation, Lucy Bronze played another fantastic game for the reds linking well with Gemma Davison throughout the 90 minutes.
Gemma Davison played perhaps her best game for Liverpool since joining during the winter transfer window, breaking through the Chelsea defence and forcing a challenge from behind by blues defender Laura Bassett on the edge of the 6-yard box. Davison stepped up to take the resulting penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way to open the scoring.
Minutes after the goal, Kate Longhurst picked up a nasty looking head injury. Longhurst was forced to leave the pitch to receive treatment and was substituted mid-way through the second-half by Claudia Walker. While Liverpool’s no.7 was on the sidelines, Libby Stout comfortably dealt with Eni Aluko‘s through ball.
Liverpool had the greater of the chances throughout the game, going close to doubling their lead when Natasha Dowie did well win a corner. Williams swung the ball in, just missing the head of Lucy Bronze but Gemma Davison fought to win the ball back and prevent Chelsea from countering. Liverpool were then awarded a free kick 40 yards out which Williams again sent into the blues box, this time Katrin Omarsdottir managed to get on the end of it but the header was blocked by the defence.
Lucy Bronze doubled Liverpool’s lead with her first goal of 2014, powerfully charging past a number of Chelsea players and playing a quick one-two with Gemma Davison to score a fantastic goal which crashed in off the crossbar.
Chelsea found their chances limited by an impressive looking Liverpool defence, Libby Stout and Gemma Bonner in particular the stand outs with Bonner making a number of interceptions and clearances inside the box and Stout being her usual commanding self – calling for balls and coming out off of her line to clear over and over again. A late effort in the second-half from close range by Eni Aluko also saw Stout display quick reactions to save and keep a clean sheet.
2-0 up Liverpool cruised comfortably to the final whistle, the reliable Stout on hand to deal with any minor threat the Chelsea attack could summon while Liverpool patiently passed the ball around – content to build up their chances slowly.
Gemma Davison, while impressing during the first 45 stepped her performance up a gear in a domineering second-half display that saw her unlucky not to grab a couple more goals. Skipping past a number of Chelsea players on numerous occasions, sending crosses into the box and running rings around the defence.
Amanda DaCosta was a second-half substitution and almost scored within minutes of entering the fray, her shot wide.
Fellow second-half substitute Claudia Walker made her first appearance for Liverpool following captaining England U19s in last month’s European Championships. The forward immediately throwing herself into the action, chasing every ball and almost getting on the end of a couple of Davison crosses – the first header saved by the keeper and the second chance Walker was only just beat to the ball inside the 6-yard box.
7 minutes were added due to Gilly Flaherty being down injured for an extended length of time. It initially looked as though Flaherty may not have been able to continue, but the Chelsea defender returned following several minutes on the sidelines.
POTM: Gemma Davison
XI: Stout, Bronze, Easton, Bonner (C), Frausing, Schroder, Williams (DaCosta), Katrin, Davison, Longhurst (Walker), Dowie
Unused subs: Gibbons, Dale, Hodson
The 3 points won tonight were massive for Liverpool’s season, pulling the reds to within 2 point of second placed Chelsea with 5 games remaining to play.
Next up for the reds is another home game, Liverpool will welcome Notts County Ladies to Select Stadium, Widnes for the first time on Saturday 23rd August in a 6:30pm KO.
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