SEASON REVIEW: FA WSL Northern Development Champions 2014/15

 Welcome to @LFCladiesfans Season Review of the 2014/15 Development Squad season.

 The FAWSL Northern Development League runs from September to May, taking a 2-month break over the winter months.

 This season has been a major success for Liverpool Ladies, crowned league champions with 2 games to spare and only exiting the League Cup after 240 minutes of football and a penalty shootout.


back L-R: Jess Carberry, Hayley Taylor, Mollie Green, Kirsty Hanson, Serena Fletcher, Rachel Darbyshire, Tash Rothery, Emilie Revitt, Olivia Wild, Shannon Beckwith, Maz Pacheco
front L-R: Bethany Donoghue, Lizzie Earle, Hannah Dale, Jess Davenport, Vicky Rumsey, Kess Elmore, Olivia Fuller

 Fixtures & Results

W 17/ D 1/ L 3

home games in bold, click the team names in red to read the match report.

21/09/14 Sunderland Ladies     W 3-0     league
25/09/14 Everton Ladies     W 2-0     league
28/09/14 Manchester City     W 2-0     cup
05/10/14 Doncaster Belles     W 7-0     league
12/10/14 Notts County     W 5-0     league
19/10/14 Doncaster Belles     W 5-0     cup
02/11/14 Manchester City     W 4-0     league
09/11/14 Sunderland Ladies     W 3-1     league
16/11/14 Durham WFC     W 10-0     cup
30/11/14 Aston Villa     W 6-1     league

01/02/15 Everton Ladies     W 5-0     cup
08/02/15 Birmingham City     W 3-1     league
22/02/15 Sunderland Ladies     L 2-1     cup
22/03/15 Birmingham City     L 1-0     league
12/04/15 Birmingham City     D 2-2 AET     cup   (LFC win 4-3 on pens)
16/04/15 Manchester City     L 2-0     league
19/04/15 Durham WFC     W 8-0     league
26/04/15 Birmingham City     L 4-2 AET*     cup
03/05/15 Aston Villa     W 6-1     league
10/05/15 Notts County     W 7-0     league
21/05/15 Everton Ladies     W 4-1     league
24/05/15 Durham WFC     W 5-0     league
31/05/15 Doncaster Belles     P-P     league

*league cup semi-final replayed due to refereeing error

Goal scorers & clean sheets

 Liverpool have scored 90 goals in 22 games, an average of 4.1 per game. The team have conceded just 15 in 22 games, an average of 0.7 per game.

 Goals have been scored by 16 different players (1 own goal); 44 from strikers, 37 from midfielders and 5 from defenders.

Mollie Green     17
Ashley Hodson     17
Bethany Donoghue     11
Claudia Walker     10
Hannah Dale     8
Jess Davenport     6
Katie Zelem     5
Mayumi Pacheco     3
Kess Elmore     3
Katrin Omarsdottir     2
Ellie Stewart     1
Olivia Fuller    1
Tash Rothery     1
Shannon Beckwith     1
Nicole Rolser     1
Lucy Staniforth     1
Kirsty Hanson     1
Own goal     1

Clean sheets- 
Rachel Darbyshire   9 in 14 
Danielle Gibbons   3 in 5

Jessica Davenport, Jennifer Herst and Jessica Carberry each played a game in goal while Darbyshire was ruled out due to injury, one clean sheet was kept during this period bringing the total to 14.

Liverpool’s defence only conceded in 8 games out of 22 all season.

Liverpool’s defence
L-R Rachel Darbyshire, Olivia Wild, Emilie Revitt, Shannon Beckwith, Maz Pacheco

Key Games

Sunderland Ladies 0 – 3 Liverpool Ladies, 21/09/14

Kicking off the season away at reigning league champions Sunderland Ladies looked to be a tough game, on paper, for Liverpool Ladies.

Making their debuts during the game were no more than 4 U17s from the Centre of Excellence, Rachel Darbyshire starting with Olivia Fuller, Charlie Johnson and Mayumi Pacheco second half substitutes.

Liverpool went ahead in the 12th minute through Hannah Dale, before Mollie Green scored either side of half-time to record a 3-0 victory for Liverpool and start an unbeaten run that would last into late February.

Liverpool Ladies 4 – 0 Manchester City, 28/09/14

Over the off-season Manchester City signed 2 of Liverpool’s midfielders in Grace Vella and Eve Kennerley, City also finished 2nd in the league in 2013/14.

Once again scoring was opened in the 12th minute, this time through Katie Zelem before Claudia Walker added a second minutes before half-time. Walker scored again in the next 45 before Bethany Donoghue scored the fourth and final goal after coming off the bench.

City would lose only 2 more games over the rest of their season, beating Liverpool 2-0 in the return leg, making this convincing 4-0 win an important one in the race for the league title. 

Liverpool Ladies 3 – 1 Birmingham City, 08/02/15

Over a 2-month period Liverpool Ladies and Birmingham City would face off 4 times, City proving to be a great opponent for the Reds with a strong starting 11.

Liverpool came out on top in this first game, Ashley Hodson and Claudia Walker putting them 2-0 up, Birmingham pulled a goal back before Walker scored again to seal the 3 points.

The next 3 games would see 2 cup ties go to extra time, one going all the way though to penalties – Shannon Beckwith tasked with marking first team striker Freda Ayisi and rising well to the challenge, and the return league game away at Birmingham in which the Blues ran out 1-0 winners. Not a lot separated the two sides, City will face Sunderland this weekend in the Development League Cup final.

Liverpool Ladies 8 – 0 Durham WFC, 19/04/15

The way in which the fixture list worked out, this home game against Durham came after 3 defeats and 1 win on penalties in the cup.

Defeat away at both Birmingham and Manchester City made this an important game with the 2 title challengers now taking up pole positions in the race to be crowned champions.

Mollie Green scored a hat-trick n 20 minutes, with Kess Elmore, Katrin Omarsdottir and Maz Pacheco also on target in the first half. Hannah Dale added a 7th in the second and Jess Davenport netted the 8th.

The victory marking the beginning of an unbeaten run for Liverpool until the end of the season, while Birmingham and Man City both dropped crucial points.

Everton Ladies 1 – 4 Liverpool Ladies, 21/05/15

Following the 4-1 win at Everton
L-R Emilie Revitt, Hannah Dale, Bethany Donoghue, Shannon Beckwith

Two nights earlier Man City had beaten Birmingham, taking them out of contention for the league title and meaning Liverpool needed only 3 points from their final 3 games to finish top of the table.

To win the league with 2 games to spare away at local rivals Everton Ladies marked a special moment in the season, both Bethany Donoghue and Hannah Dale scoring twice against a Blues side that had initially proved tough to break down.

Mollie Green was magnificent throughout, while Rachel Darbyshire produced a fine triple save on the stroke of full-time to ensure Liverpool ran out 4-1 winners on the night, and champions of the 2014/15 league campaign.


24. Rachel Darbyshire

Goalkeeper Rachel Darbyshire kept 9 clean sheets in 14 appearances, only conceding 1 goal in 2014 and this coming after 5 games. Rachel was one of the many players FA Youth Cup winning side to step up to the reserves and has grown in stature over the course of the campaign, training with the first team and making her debut during a pre-season friendly. An enthusiastic, vocal presence in the side who was missed during her absence through injury; following her return Liverpool won 3 out of 3 of their remaining games.

23. Danielle Gibbons

Danielle Gibbons made 5 appearances in total for the development side in 2014/15, putting in a Player of the Match display in the first cup semi-final against a tough Birmingham City side – with save after save during the game itself and then producing a winning save during the penalty shootout.

1*. Jessica Carberry

Jess is the goalkeeper for Liverpool’s U17 side, making one appearance between the posts for the development side after Darbyshire picked up an injury. Despite defeat, Jess did well on her debut, her distribution a particular strong point and not at fault for any of the goals.

28. Olivia Wild

Strong, quick and with a great eye for a long pass, Olivia Wild can run all day up and down the right wing. Has played the majority of her season at right-back although has also been used on the right wing, not looking out of place and giving the defence extra protection from further up the field as she tracks back well. Unfortunate to have missed several games though injury after starting the first 6 games, first a wrist injury picked up at the same time as the previous season, then a shoulder and hamstring preventing her from playing a couple in the second half of the year – making 15 appearances overall – Olivia returned in the league cup semi-final, scoring a rocket of a penalty in the shootout. 

6*. Tash Rothery

A goal on her debut wasn’t enough to prevent the Reds first defeat of the campaign, as Tash Rothery came off the bench to score in the 2-1 defeat away at Sunderland. Tash has proved to be a solid addition to an already sturdy Liverpool defence, playing at either right-back or centre-back and being voted Player of the Match by fans for the away league tie at Manchester City.

33. Mayumi Pacheco

An ever-present in the side throughout the second half of the season, Mayumi Pacheco has made the left-back spot her own. With 3 goals in 11 appearances Maz is a predominantly attacking player who can defend well in equal measure and is a regular in the England U17 squad alongside club team mate Kess Elmore. One of 5 development players to make their first team debut in the 4-1 pre-season victory over Aston Villa, Maz also went on to become Liverpool’s youngest ever player after making a competitive debut in the opening league game against Sunderland Ladies.

Maz was voted by followers of @LFCladiesfans as 2nd in the Player of the Season vote.

32. Serena Fletcher

One of 2 new faces joining the group towards the end of the season from Manchester United’s centre of excellence, Serena is a talented young full-back who made her first and only appearance in the 7-0 win over Notts County. An impressive debut seen the new addition bolster the Red’s attack on the right wing as the majority of their goals came from balls in from that side of the pitch.

26. Emilie Revitt  – 3rd in Player of the Season

Starting the season in a back 3 alongside Ellie Stewart and Shannon Beckwith and then partnering Beckwith in a back 2 following Stewart’s departure; Emilie has enjoyed a hugely successful year and is one of a group of 6 core players who has played the majority of the season’s games, making 19 appearances. Revitt made her first team debut during their pre-season and received a call-up to the senior Wales squad for their friendlies in April – coming within seconds of making her debut only for the fourth official to tell the bench they were unable to make any more substitutes.

Emilie was voted by followers of @LFCladiesfans as 3rd in the Player of the Season vote.

31. Olivia Fuller

The captain of the U17s side that lifted The FA Youth Cup last June, Olivia Fuller has made the most appearances out of the group that made the step up to the development side in 2014/15 featuring in 20 games. A versatile defender who is comfortable playing across the back 4, having been playing at right-back, right-wing-back, left-back and centre-back over the last 9 months and has visibly improved over the course of the year with an excellent display in the replay of the league cup semi-final – setting up both Liverpool goals.

29. Shannon Beckwith ©

Named captain at the beginning of the season following the departure of Sophia Riccio, Shannon Beckwith played an important part in the defence that conceded only 2 goals in 10 games in 2014; seguing comfortably from a back 3 to forming a good partnership with Emilie Revitt in 2015. Consistently reliable at the back, Shannon scored once at the other end of the pitch this season, heading home from a corner to equalise during the replay of the league cup semi-final. Only a hamstring injury prevented her from appearing during the closing stages of the campaign, her final appearance coming in the 6-1 victory over Aston Villa.

8*. Hayley Taylor

Hayley Taylor made 2 appearances this season for the development side, at the same time enjoying a great season for the U17s as she scored 11 goals from centre midfield. Both appearances came in the second half of the year and we could see her feature more in 2015/16.

38. Vicky Rumsey

The only player to have played some part in every single game, with 22 overall appearances. Vicky produced a Player of the Match display in the 6-1 victory before Christmas away at Aston Villa and her performances have continued to impress. Protecting the Liverpool back line, good at pressuring the opposition, closing them down and dispossessing – a particular highlight of the year coming against Everton last week, higher up the pitch, Vicky closed down the Blues defender at the edge of the 18-yard box after making a charging run, winning the free kick from which Hannah Dale would score to secure the league title. Also appeared for the first team during pre-season.

20. Katie Zelem

Katie Zelem made only 6 appearances this year for the development side, as she continues to press for a first team spot. In those 6 appearances the midfielder has been as influential as ever, scoring 4 goals.

30. Hannah Dale – PLAYER OF THE SEASON

Hannah Dale received the majority of votes and has deservedly been named @LFCladiesfans Development Player of the Season 2014/15. Hannah featured 14 times over the course of the season, scoring 8 goals – many free kicks, including a superb effort in the league-clinching 4-1 win over Everton Ladies. Her set pieces really are to be admired, corners, free kicks, penalties are all areas the no.30 specialises in.

A wrist injury prevented her from appearing in several games before the mid-season break, but the box-to-box midfielder soon returned and has again been given chances in the first team following her introduction during their title winning campaign in 2014.

Hannah would miss what would be the final game of the season, the 5-0 win at Durham, after receiving a first-time call-up to England’s U23 squad along with Lucy Staniforth and Martha Harris. It’s fantastic to see the recognition from England and the call-up reflects the hard work put in by the player who has rose through the age groups at Liverpool’s academy.

34. Kess Elmore

The FA Youth Cup winning hero has scored 3 goals in 10 games, featuring mainly during the second half of the season but also with a brilliant performance in the 4-2 friendly win away over Blackburn Rovers first team. Kess’ role in the team will grow next year, this season she continued playing with the U17s along with the development team and also continues to be consistently included in the England U17 squad. 

21. Mollie Green

Finishing the year joint-top goal scorer along with Ashley Hodson, Mollie Green has enjoyed an excellent first full season with the development squad after first making the step up towards the end of the 2013/14 season. A confident player, not afraid to shoot from seemingly anywhere on the pitch – including an audacious strike in the first half against Durham last weekend from the half way line. First team manager Matt Beard has been vocal in his praise of the attacking midfielder, who trains with the senior side twice a week and we could well see a debut in the second half of their season.

2*. Summer Smith

The last of the U17s to make the step up this season, Summer played 90 minutes in the final game of the season at Durham where she settled well in a midfield 3 alongside Vicky Rumsey and Mollie Green, making a number of interceptions in the midfield battle.

18. Bethany Donoghue

In 2013/14 Bethany Donoghue was voted by followers of this blog as joint Player of the Season alongside Megan Alexander after finishing top scorer for the Liverpool side that finished 3rd in the league. This year Bethany has scored 11 goals in 21 appearances, second only to joint top scorers Ashley Hodson and Mollie Green and is also second behind Vicky Rumsey in terms of appearances made. An excellent finisher who scored 6 goals in the final 3 games of the season and also came on as a substitute in the first team’s pre-season friendly against Aston Villa.

10*. Lizzie Earle

Joining the development squad towards the end of a successful year with the U17s, with 6 goals in 12 starts, Lizzie made a couple of appearances including a debut in the league cup semi-final against Birmingham City – scoring her penalty in the shootout.

22. Jess Davenport

The forward has featured 21 times over the course of the season, scoring 6 goals – including one brilliant goal from just inside the 18-yard box to complete the 5-0 victory away at Durham. Jess won The FA Youth Cup with Liverpool’s U17s last year before making the step up to the development side and helping them to the league title. Will be missed next season as she takes up a soccer scholarship in America. 

35. Kirsty Hanson

The second of the new recruits from Manchester United, Hanson made a couple of substitute appearances before scoring on her full debut in the final away game of the campaign against Durham; playing in the centre of a front 3, Kirsty scored after winning a corner and then volleying the resulting set piece over the line. Will no doubt become an important player for the team next season. 

36. Ashley Hodson

Ashley Hodson scored 17 goals in 9 games before a knee injury ruled her out for the remainder of the season, voted Player of the Season at the midway stage and making her debut for England U23s, Ashley’s pace and finishing technique are brilliant. On her return she should find herself involved with the first team during the second half of their season and could even push for a starting spot.

First teamers Lucy Staniforth, Martha Harris, Nicole Rolser, Ingrid Ryland and Katrin Omarsdottir have all also featured over the course of the season.

Departed players: mid-season Ellie Stewart, Megan Alexander and Claudia Walker left Liverpool to join Everton Ladies in search of more regular first team football while Charlie Johnson and Rachel Robinson have both left the club.

*players marked with an asterisk have stepped up this season from the U17s and are yet to be assigned a squad number.

Congratulations to every player who featured during the course of the season, it’s important to remember that every single player has played their part in the league win – 90 goals scored and 15 conceded in 22 games represents an excellent team effort and Liverpool are lucky to have such a talented youth side with bright futures ahead of them all.

Finally I’d like to finish this review by congratulating the coaching staff – Matty Campbell, Vicky Jepson, Jennifer Herst et al on a great season.

Thanks for following the blog over the development season, as ever the reports have proven to be some of the most popular on here.

Photos – John Wilcox / Michelle Watson

MATCH REPORT: Durham WFC 0 – 5 Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool Ladies beat Durham WFC 5-0 away from home in their penultimate game of the 2014/15 season.
 The Reds, crowned league champions on Thursday evening, scored twice in the first half through Bethany Donoghue and a wonder goal from Mollie Green. The second half seen 3 more, with Donoghue scoring her second, Jess Davenport adding to her tally for the season and Kirsty Hanson scoring her first Liverpool goal on her first start.
 There were 3 changes to the side that won midweek; with Hannah Dale, Mayumi Pacheco and Kess Elmore all away with England.
 Summer Smith made her development debut in a midfield 3 that also contained Mollie Green and Vicky Rumsey, Kirsty Hanson in the middle of the front 3 with Bethany Donoghue to her right and Jess Davenport to her left; Tash Rothery alongside Olivia Fuller at centre back, Emilie Revitt starting at left back – and captaining the team with Shannon Beckwith absent through injury – Olivia Wild at right back and Rachel Darbyshire in goal.
 The newly crowned champions were almost ahead seconds after kick off, Olivia Wild putting the ball into the box for Mollie Green to hit the post; minutes later Kirsty Hanson did well to keep the ball in play, beat her marker and send a cross towards Bethany Donoghue only for the defender to intercept.
 Liverpool had played Durham twice already this season, winning 10-0 and 8-0, but during the early stages their hosts tried to put pressure on the Reds defence – Emilie Revitt called into action, standing her ground to force the winger to pass infield, Vicky Rumsey intercepted the loose ball and Summer Smith was able to clear.
 Tash Rothery twice headed away Durham set pieces while Olivia Fuller put in a good shift; quick to react to the crosses coming in from the right and closing down with confidence when the home side attempted to put the ball over the Liverpool back line.
 The passage of play in which Liverpool opened the scoring began with Mollie Green midway through the Durham half, the visitors had 9 players forward, pressing around the 18-yard box. The initial strike in was blocked by the goalkeeper, Hanson closing it down and Donoghue capitalising to score her 10th goal of the season.
 Donoghue’s goal was quickly followed by a strong contender for goal of the season from Mollie Green. The ball came to Green on the halfway line, who took it forward a few yards before excellently lobbing the ball over the keeper to extend the lead to 2-0 after 15 minutes.
 For the next half an hour both sides probed the others defence, with Olivia Wild brilliant both ends of the pitch; almost getting on the score sheet with 2 long range shots, making a wonderful turn to evade her marker and tracking back to match the wingers run, Rothery coming across to clear and carry the ball out.
  A brief period towards the end of the first half seen Emilie Revitt move into centre back with Olivia Fuller going on the left, Fuller making a good run into the opposition half and sending the ball towards Hanson.
 Fuller was also able to make a break down the wing after combining well with Summer Smith, who kept the ball in play, but it was Durham who looked more likely to score during the closing stages of the first 45 – heading just wide of the post from one cross and then only being denied by a good reaction save by Rachel Darbyshire.
 Half-time: Durham WFC 0 – 2 Liverpool Ladies
Both teams emerged unchanged for the second half – Liverpool had just reserve keeper Jess Carberry on the bench – as the battle in midfield continued. Summer Smith seemed to be playing slightly further forward and was winning balls across the centre of the pitch.
 Early in the second half Liverpool had a trio of corner kicks, the first coming after Hanson and Donoghue combined on the right. The second was tipped straight out for a third, which almost reached Kirsty Hanson but the keeper just got there.
 The partnership between Bethany Donoghue and Mollie Green has produced a number of goals of late, just 7 minutes into the half there was another, Green teeing up Donoghue who expertly clipped the ball around the defender and scored from the edge of the box to put Liverpool further ahead.
 Hanson was having a good game up front for Liverpool, coming out wide when required and the striker was unlucky on a number of occasions; the best passage of play of the afternoon seen Jess Davenport dummy the ball for Revitt to run past her to the byline, Hanson’s shot from the cross was saved as was Mollie Green’s rebound.
 Up at the other end a well-timed sliding challenge from Vicky Rumsey in the 6-yard box denied Durham and Darbyshire twice came to the edge of the 18 to clear.
 The next 2 Liverpool goals would come from set pieces; first Olivia Wild swinging a free kick to Jess Davenport, unmarked inside the area, who scored the fourth through a crowd of players. The fifth and final goal came after Kirsty Hanson seen a shot tipped wide, Green’s corner was then converted by Hanson who volleyed over the line at the far post.
 Jess Carberry did make a brief appearance towards the end of the 90, coming on to replace Summer Smith outfield.
 XI Darbyshire, Wild, Rothery, Fuller, Revitt ©, Rumsey, Green, Smith (Carberry), Donoghue, Hanson, Davenport
POTM Bethany Donoghue
 *UPDATE 28/05/15 – the final league game against Doncaster Belles has been postponed indefinitely*

 Thanks for reading!


 Regular readers of this blog may recall a post a couple of months ago where I told you of a summer work placement I had secured with Boston Breakers, I’m disappointed to tell you now that that placement fell through.

 This left me a bit stuck, to say the least, as the placement was to form part of my second year of University. After giving the situation some thought, I decided to still head to the other side of the pond this summer but instead first to Canada and a number of World Cup games before going onto New York and catching an NWSL match.

 As this will still count towards my University module, I need to produce something while over there and as such, this blog will be my platform to publish a match report and general observations on each match I go to! Match reports will be published on here (5 games, at the moment, starting from England v Colombia in Montreal on Wednesday 17th June) and a link tweeted on @LFCladiesfans 1-2 times tops – I won’t be bombarding you with non-LFC material.

 While we’re taking a detour from Liverpool Ladies during the mid-season break, rest assured normal service will resume on Sunday 12th July when the Reds are away at Arsenal Ladies – and there are still 3 games left of the development season that will be covered on the twitter and here.

 Thanks as always for reading these blogs, I hope that the reports from the games in North America will be of some interest!



 Welcome to @LFCladiesfans Mid-Season Review 2015! 

 Due to the Women’s World Cup kicking off in just under a month’s time, the mid-season break has come slightly earlier this season with Liverpool Ladies having played just 6 games – 5 in the league and 1 in The FA Cup. It would be rude to break tradition however and so this review will take a look back at each game, attendances and goals, ‘… of the Season so far’ Awards and a brief preview for the second half of the campaign.
 Liverpool Ladies: Fixtures & Results
 22/03/15 (a) Birmingham City Ladies     L 3-1        The FA Cup    attendance 401
 25/03/15 (h) Sunderland AFC Ladies      L 2-1        FAWSL    attendance 1014
 01/04/15 (h) Birmingham City Ladies     W 2-1       FAWSL    attendance 421
 19/04/15 (a) Chelsea Ladies FC               L 1-0         FAWSL    attendance 878
 26/04/15 (h) Manchester City Women    W 2-1        FAWSL    attendance 1022
 10/05/15 (a) Notts County Ladies FC      L 1-0        FAWSL    attendances 2057
 click the team name above to read the match report from each game

 W 2 / D 0 / L 4

 Total attendance: 5,793
 Average attendance: 965 (WSL = 1,078)
 Total home attendance: 2,457
 Average home attendance: 819 (WSL only)
 Total away attendance: 3,336
 Average away attendance: 1,112 (WSL = 1,465)
 The overall mid-season average attendance, although based on fewer games, is up by 223. It is also up on the average attendance at the end of last season by 224.
 Liverpool’s average home attendance at the midway stage last season was 809, so is up by 10; however at the end of the 2014 season the average home attendance was just 684 and so sees an increase of 135. This average is of course based on just 3 home games, but it would be great if Liverpool could continue to see increased attendances throughout the second half of the season.
 Liverpool Goalscorers
 Asisat Oshoala x 2     v Birmingham City Ladies, Manchester City Women
 Natasha Dowie x 1     v Birmingham City Ladies
 Satara Murray x 1     v Sunderland AFC Ladies
 Fara Williams x 1     v Birmingham City Ladies
 Line Smorsgard x 1     v Manchester City Women

The FA Cup
Birmingham City Ladies 3 – 1 Liverpool Ladies
 Starting 2015 with the toughest of FA Cup ties away at Birmingham City Ladies, Liverpool fell to a 3-1 defeat to deny entry to the Quarter-Finals for the first time in 3 years. Three of Liverpool’s winter signings made their competitive debuts for the club, while Katrin Omarsdottir was missing through injury.
 Birmingham started the game strongly, both Hannah Dale and Becky Easton called into action early in the first half to thwart the Blues attacks. The Reds also conceded a host of corners, with only poor finishing denying the home side from taking the lead. Liverpool also had chances to open the scoring, an interchange between Natasha Dowie and Asisat Oshoala running out of play before Fara Williams first-time volley shot-cross was saved by Birmingham keeper Becky Spencer.
 After an intense opening 15 minutes, Birmingham would take the lead; captain for the afternoon Jade Moore slipping through to slot low past Libby Stout.
 The Reds responded soon after, Gemma Bonner finding Line Smorsgard by the left corner flag, Smorsgard getting the ball back up to Corina Schroder who’s first time cross was headed into the back of the net by Natasha Dowie.
 Birmingham would go in at half-time back in front when Jo Potter scored with a great strike from a free kick and despite a an overall better performance in the second-half from Liverpool, the Blues extended their lead with almost the final kick of the game when Remi Allen scored from the penalty spot to knock the visitors out of the cup. 

FA Women’s Super League
Liverpool Ladies 1 – 2 Sunderland AFC Ladies
 Days after The FA Cup defeat, Liverpool were back in action at home with their opening league game of the season against newly promoted Sunderland Ladies. Former Liverpool title-winning keeper Rachel Laws started for the Black Cats.
 Changes were made to the side beaten at Birmingham, a formation change seeing Martha Harris and Ingrid Ryland play as wing-backs with Corina Schroder moving into a defensive back 3 that also contained Gemma Bonner and Satara Murray.
 Harris proved a welcome addition to the starting line-up, twice dealing with lose balls at the back to first deny Beth Mead and then Abby Holmes; while Nicole Rolser almost made a difference up front, twice breaking through on goal but twice denied by the Sunderland defence.
 Sunderland scored twice, either side of half-time to give themselves a 2-goal cushion. Beth Mead opening the scoring after a cross in from the right by Keira Ramshaw, Liverpool also conceded their second penalty in as many games with former Everton midfielder Brooke Chaplen converting from the spot.
 Satara Murray would pull a goal back for the Reds, Smorsgard poking Fara Williams’ corner into the Americans path for the defender to score on her league debut but despite Natasha Dowie hitting the crossbar and Lucy Staniforth also going close, Liverpool couldn’t find the equaliser they needed.
Liverpool Ladies 2 – 1 Birmingham City Ladies

 For the next game Liverpool again faced Birmingham City, this time in the league and this time at home. Matt Beard once more rang changes in his Liverpool side, this one striking gold as the Reds manager stationed Becky Easton in front of a back 4 of (from R-L) Martha Harris, Gemma Bonner, Satara Murray and Corina Schroder with Libby Stout in goal.
 Changes were also made further up the field, with Fara Williams partnering Kate Longhurst in the centre of midfield, Asisat Oshoala on the right, Line Smorsgard out left and Natasha Dowie up front.
 Liverpool pressed and frustrated Birmingham from the opening whistle, dominating the midfield battle with the excellent Williams and Longhurst. The Reds created chance after chance and looked to have opened the scoring through Longhurst’s volley on 30 minutes, only for the referee to disallow the goal for an alleged foul in the build-up.
 The home side were soon rewarded for their efforts, Gemma Bonner’s ball into the opposition box headed away only as far as Asisat Oshoala who impressively lobbed the keeper to put Liverpool in front.
 In the second-half Birmingham went more direct, Libby Stout twice called into action to punch the ball clear but Liverpool were not put off, Oshoala setting up Fara William for the second goal of the game.
 The Blues pulled a goal back through Aoife Mannion, but Liverpool held on with ease, despite going down to 10 due to a horrific challenge knocking out Kate Longhurst after using all 3 substitutes, to take the points.
Chelsea Ladies 1 – 0 Liverpool Ladies
 Liverpool travelled to top-of-the-league Chelsea following a brief international break, meaning that Longhurst was able to retain her place in the starting 11 but Nicole Rolser was missing due to a thigh strain and Katrin Omarsdottir continued to build fitness with the development squad back on Merseyside.
 The Reds were arguably the better side over the 90 minutes, unchanged from the side that beat Birmingham, strong defensively with Martha Harris providing a good interception to deny Gemma Davison and Gemma Bonner with a well-timed sliding challenge in the area to stop PFA Player of the Year Ji So-Yun from scoring. Bonner also went close to scoring for Liverpool, heading over the crossbar from a Fara Williams set piece.
 Natasha Dowie worked hard throughout the game, particularly during the second-half almost setting up Line Smorsgard before a great run down the left wing saw the no.9 beat the left-back and attempt a one-two with Longhurst but unfortunately unable to connect with the return ball.
 Eni Aluko put the home side in front, chipping the ball over Libby Stout after a series of neat passes between Chelsea’s midfielders.
 Oshoala went closest to equalising, before Fara Williams missed the chance to tie the score after hitting the post with a penalty. The importance of the result for Chelsea was highlighted by the way they attempted to hold the ball by the corner flag in the closing stages of the game.
Liverpool Ladies 2 – 1 Manchester City Women
 A week later and Liverpool were back to winning ways, despite coming up against former defender Lucy Bronze for the first time and a Manchester City that contained on-loan Everton forward Nikita Parris and ex-Bristol Academy star Natasha Harding.
 Gemma Bonner was immense in the Liverpool back-line, dealing with any and most of the City attacks, keeping Toni Duggan at bay and limiting the England striker to trying her luck from distance.
 Liverpool took a first-half lead when Asisat Oshoala prodded the ball over the line from Fara Williams’ corner, Natasha Dowie almost doubling the advantage on the stroke of half-time but her strike blocked.
  Out unchanged for the second-half, Manchester City found an equaliser through a set piece of their own; Nikita Parris heading past Stout and celebrating wildly.
 The lead was however, to be extremely short-lived. Martha Harris’ throw-in cleverly tapped to Oshoala by Dowie, Oshoala’s cross connecting with Line Smorsgard on the edge of the 6-yard box for the Reds no.10 to score her first Liverpool goal and the winner on the afternoon.
 By the end of the game the scoreline could easily have been 3 or 4-1 to the home side, City’s keeper saving from Dowie and also holding on the Williams’ shot after excellent build up play between her and Oshoala.
Notts County Ladies 1 – 0 Liverpool Ladies
 The final game before the break saw an unchanged side for the 4th straight game, and almost mirrored the Chelsea away game in that Liverpool created chance after chance, dominating possession for spells but were unable to convert.
 Asisat Oshoala almost opened the scoring in the opening minute, with a run down the right resulting in Carly Telford punching her strike from a tight angle out for a corner. 
 Defensively, yet again, Liverpool were on the large part a solid unit; Corina Schroder tasked with dealing with the threat of Jess Clarke and standing her ground well with a number of crucial interceptions.
 Nicole Rolser came on for Line Smorsgard at half-time, almost setting up Natasha Dowie early in the first-half and looking dangerous attacking down the left wing. The partnership between the two was one of the most effective in the league during 2013, Rolser’s injury in 2014 limiting their playing time together but signs on the afternoon here of it returning – Dowie holding off players in midfield, turning to pass out wide to Rolser and then making her own runs into the box.
 County would score the only goal of the game through a set piece, two ex-Evertonians combining with Alex Greenwood’s corner being converted by Fern Whelan, as Liverpool fell to their third defeat of the campaign.
‘… of the Season so far’ Awards
Player of the Season so far

 Liverpool Ladies captain Gemma Bonner received the most votes and has deservedly been crowned @LFCladiesfans Player of the Season so far. 
 The Reds made a host of signings over the winter, losing a number in the process, and Bonner has provided a calming presence in the centre of defence as the new arrivals find their feet – including her partner at centre-back, Satara Murray.
 Named Player of the Match in 2 consecutive games in April, with towering performances in both the defeat away at Chelsea and the home win over Manchester City. The latter in particular seen Bonner command her back line excellently and keep England striker Toni Duggan on a tight leash, the Reds captain seemed to be everywhere and was first to clear each time City forged an attack. 
 As well as in defence, Bonner’s passes forward are something to be admired; dangerous balls into the opposition box from deep unsettling the defence, as demonstrated perfectly in the league win over Birmingham City when a long ball from the captain saw the Blues fail to clear and resulted in Asisat Oshoala opening the scoring.
Second place / Young Player of the Season so far

 Martha Harris arrived at Liverpool Ladies at the end of a 2013 season in which she won Lincoln Ladies Player and Young Player of the Year awards and also picking up the PFA Young Player of the Year award in April 2014, Harris scored on her competitive debut for the Reds but then picked up an injury that would see her miss chunks of the season – as well as missing key games due to her involvement in the U20 World Cup.
 Still aged only 20, this season has seen Harris maintain remarkable form as she holds down the right-back spot as her own, impressive defensively when coming up against some the league’s best players – one highlight a solid interception of former Liverpool winger Gemma Davison’s mazy run, Harris cutting infield to dispossess the Chelsea no.7.
 Harris has also impressed higher up the pitch, her throw-in leading to the winner against Manchester City at home at the end of April and brilliant crosses into the 18-yard box from the right. 
Third Place

 Matt Beard has received praise for his change in formation, following the opening back-to-back defeats, moving Becky Easton in front of the back 4 and pushing Fara Williams further up the pitch. One change that has seemingly gone under the radar is Kate Longhurst’s move to centre midfield, partnering Williams and proving a welcome addition following the departure of Amanda Da Costa.
 Longhurst’s attitude is infectious, Liverpool’s no.7 will run box-to-box for the entire 90 minutes and works tirelessly throughout. Knocked out during the win over Birmingham City, but back for the following game away at Chelsea, Longhurst is a crucial part to this Liverpool side and her determination in her new role has not gone unnoticed by supporters. 
Goal of the Season so far
From 33 secs:
Martha Harris clips the ball into the path of Gemma Bonner, who takes one touch before sending a long ball forwards into the Birmingham box; the ball only half-cleared by the defence to Asisat Oshoala who cleverly lobs the ball over the keeper with the inside of her foot. 
Highlight of the Season so far
 The highlight of the season so far this year comes in the form of Lucy Staniforth’s long awaited return from injury. Staniforth made an appearance during pre-season, coming off the bench in the 1-1 draw with Doncaster Belles but would make her first competitive appearance in the red of Liverpool, and her first competitive appearance since 2013’s FA Cup Final with Bristol Academy, when coming off the bench in the opening league game of the season against Sunderland Ladies.
 Since, Staniforth has made 2 more substitute appearances against Birmingham and Chelsea and has been building up her fitness starting a number of development games as they finish their season. Last weekend Staniforth scored her first Liverpool goal for the development side after lobbing the keeper with her back to goal in the 7-0 win over Notts County. 
 The midfielder’s hard work has also been recognised for England, as she has this week received a call-up to the England U23 squad for the upcoming Nordic Tournament at the end of May alongside team mates Martha Harris and Hannah Dale. The no.37 will be the one-to-watch in the latter half of the Reds league campaign.
Women’s World Cup
 Fara Williams will be Liverpool’s sole representative during England’s Women’s World Cup campaign. England face France, Mexico and Colombia in Group F as they look to progress to the Round of 16.
 The Reds also have Asisat Oshoala headed to Canada with Nigeria, the Nigerians have been drawn in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ at the tournament and will play Sweden, Australia and former winners USA in Group D.
Preview: Second half of the Season
 Going into the break Liverpool Ladies sit in 5th on 6 points, 8 points behind league leaders Chelsea Ladies and 6 behind second placed Arsenal Ladies. The Reds have a game in hand and are due to play both Chelsea and Arsenal at home in the second half of the campaign, as well as Arsenal away and Notts County, in 3rd on 11 points, at home. As we seen on the final day of the 2014 season, anything can happen in this league and a top 2 placing is by no means out of reach for Liverpool who have everything to play for when the season starts back up again in July.
 The Continental Cup also kicks off in late July, with quarter-finals now added to the Cup competition. Liverpool will face Sunderland, Everton, Manchester City and Doncaster Belles in July and August.
 Thanks for reading @LFCladiesfans mid-season review, plenty more action to come in the second half of the year and I *should* hopefully have something exciting to announce on the blog next week in relation to what’s happening here over the break.

MATCH REPORT: Notts County Ladies 1 – 0 Liverpool Ladies

  In their final Women’s Super League game before a 2-month break for the Women’s World Cup, Liverpool Ladies fell 1-0 away at Notts County Ladies.
 The 90 minutes would prove frustrating once again for the Reds, in a performance that almost mirrored the defeat at Chelsea 2 weeks ago, as they dominated possession – particularly during the first half – but were beaten by a Fern Whelan head via a set piece midway through the second-half.
 Liverpool were unchanged from their previous 3 games; Natasha Dowie leading the line, Asisat Oshoala on the right wing, Line Smorsgard on the left with Kate Longhurst and Fara Williams in the centre of midfield.
 Becky Easton was once again stationed in front of the back four of, from right to left, Martha Harris, captain Gemma Bonner, Satara Murray and Corina Schroder with Libby Stout in goal.
 Notts County got the game underway, immediately kicking the ball out of play for a Liverpool throw deep in the Reds half; Liverpool seizing this early opportunity to mount an attack up the right wing, Asisat Oshoala sprinting with the ball all the way to the 6-yard box, Natasha Dowie and Line Smorsgard also making runs into the box, but Oshoala going for goal and prising Carly Telford into an early save to win a corner.
 County’s Jess Clarke is one of the best attacking players in the league, Corina Schroder tasked with handling her during the game and standing her ground well. Schroder intercepting Clarke’s through ball to Ellen White, then getting ahead of Clarke to nick possession and later dispossessing the winger after getting across brilliantly and forcing her away from goal.
 Liverpool tried to replicate last week’s winning goal against Manchester City, with Martha Harris finding Natasha Dowie in the 18-yard box with a throw from the right, Dowie tapping on to Oshoala but this time the Nigerian was offside.
 Oshoala was a bright spark during the opening 45 minutes, chasing long balls forward, winning corners and forcing yet another good save from Telford. On the stroke of half-time Oshoala latched onto a pass from Gemma Bonner, picking out Fara Williams whose strike was blocked by Dani Buet.
 The game was so far proving to be a battle of the defences, as the same tie had done at the same point in the season last year; Liverpool’s impressive back four countered by Rick Passmoor’s new look Notts back line, featuring 2 signings from Everton Ladies in centre-back Fern Whelan and left-back Alex Greenwood.
 Liverpool did have the better chances of the two when managing to get inside the box, their set pieces also going close with Williams seeing a free kick held by Telford and a corner just skimming past both Oshoala and Satara Murray.
 Half-time – Notts County Ladies 0 – 0 Liverpool Ladies
 Matt Beard made one change at half-time, with Nicole Rolser coming on for Line Smorsgard.
 The introduction of Rolser made an immediate impact to Liverpool’s play, the German winger being a little more direct with her attacking play and running with the ball; Rolser almost played Natasha Dowie through early in the second-half but the no.9 was prevented from reaching the ball before it went out of play by Whelan.
 Rolser then won a free kick in midfield, the ensuing advantage being cleared at the edge of the area.
 Notts also had their chances early on, Whelan at the other end shooting wide before an awkward ball into the Reds area bounced awkwardly behind Libby Stout but Martha Harris was well-positioned to clear the danger.
 Jess Clarke had found her game stunted on the right wing in the first half and in the second switched to the left only to be equally as frustrated by the excellent Harris, a well-timed challenge preventing Clarke from crossing.
 Liverpool continued to be the dominant side, Natasha Dowie holding off players in midfield, turning well and passing out wide to Rolser. At times the partnership between the two was reminiscent of the 2013 one which produced 20+ goals and is at least one positive Liverpool can take with them into the second half of the season.
 Gemma Bonner has had a magnificent season at centre back over the opening games, with this afternoon being no different; Bonner eluding Notts’ Rachel Williams who must have thought she had a free shot on goal but for a last ditch interception from the Reds captain.
 The home side took the lead from a corner midway through the half, the impressive Fern Whelan heading the ball into the back of the net.
 Liverpool searched for an equaliser in vain, Matt Beard introducing Ingrid Ryland and Katie Zelem in place of Corina Schroder and Becky Easton, but for all their pressure in and around the box the Reds just couldn’t get past Telford and the game finished 1-0.
 XI Stout, Harris, Bonner (C), Murray, Schroder (Ryland), Easton (Zelem), Oshoala, Williams, Longhurst, Smorsgard (Rolser), Dowie
 POTM Martha Harris
 Liverpool Ladies are next in action in July, as the season now takes a 2-month break for the World Cup in Canada. A mid-season review will be up by Tuesday, you have until tomorrow night to tweet @LFCladiesfans (or comment below) with your Player of the Season so far.
 Thanks for reading!

MATCH PREVIEW: Notts County Ladies v Liverpool Ladies

 It has been a tough start to the Women’s Super League season for the majority of the teams in the league, including Liverpool Ladies, with teams from both ends of the table taking points from each other. 
 As often quoted during the opening 6 weeks, no game is an easy game. There is no game a team can go into confident of picking up 3 points and every point is being battled for across the league.
 Tomorrow Liverpool Ladies are away at Notts County Ladies in the final game before the season breaks for the Women’s World Cup (the squad for which will be announced on Monday 11th May), the game will kick off at 5pm, Meadow Lane Stadium, Nottingham. Entry is priced at £6 for adults and £3.50 concessions.
 Above you can see the WSL table as it stands after results earlier today (Saturday 9th May); Arsenal Ladies were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom of the league Bristol Academy, while Sunderland Ladies picked up a convincing 3-0 win over last season’s 3rd placed side Birmingham City Ladies to move into 3rd position themselves.
 As for Liverpool, a win tomorrow would see them move above Sunderland into 3rd; with a game in hand over Arsenal Ladies in 2nd and still to face the Gunners both home and away in the second half of the campaign.
 Chelsea Ladies are also away, a win would see them go 4 points clear at the top yet they face a tough Manchester City Women side who will be keen to avenge the 1-0 defeat last weekend in The FA Cup semi-final.
 Notts County sit 2 points in front of the Reds ahead of their visit tomorrow, having played one game more than their visitors and recording 2 wins, 2 draws and 1 defeat. Liverpool’s form so far this season has seen them pick up 6 points out of 12, winning 2 and losing 2; with defeat away at Chelsea particularly a tough one to stomach given the performance from the team on the day.
 The performances of Liverpool have been excellent over the last 3 games, with Natasha Dowie being singled out for praise on the latest episode of The Anfield Wrap: Champions here and also by manager Matt Beard who says; “the runs she makes and some of the unselfish work for the team has created chances for other players… there’s been lots of phases of play this year where she has been involved in the goals.”
 Though Dowie has yet to score her first league goal in 2015, it is surely only a matter of time as both Line Smorsgard and Asisat Oshoala grow into this Liverpool side by the game and Nicole Rolser is also looking sharp, completing 65 minutes in the development squad’s 6-1 win over Aston Villa last weekend.
 Talking of the development squad, tomorrow they also face Notts County away in a crucial league tie; a win will put them 1 point ahead of top-of-the-league Manchester City with a game in hand. The development game kicks off at 1pm at Nottingham Trent University. 
 Coverage of both games will be on @LFCladiesfans and match reports on the blog tomorrow night.