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!