MID-SEASON REVIEW 2015

 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.
 Heather

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