MATCH REPORT: @donnybelles 0 – 3 @LFCladies

Liverpool Ladies secured 3 points with 3 goals in a Continental Cup tie away at Doncaster Belles earlier this evening; Natasha Dowie opened the scoring before both Lucy Staniforth and Ashley Hodson netted their first Liverpool goals either side of half-time to complete the win.
The Reds lined up in a 3-4-3 formation using a trio of Gemma Bonner, Becky Easton and Corina Schroder in defence ahead of Libby Stout in goal. Staniforth partnered Katrin Omarsdottir in central midfield with Mayumi Pacheco on the left and Ingrid Ryland on the right; Dowie, Rosie White and Kate Longhurst played as an interchanging 3 up front.
Liverpool were left bitterly disappointed following a 1-0 league defeat away at the weekend and from the opening whistle at the Keepmoat Stadium looked far more dangerous going forward – with Pacheco and Ryland getting forward down the wings at every opportunity.
They did suffer a couple of early scares in the opening 10 minutes, Sue Smith skipping past a couple of red shirts to swing a cross towards the back post which was headed away by Pacheco but sent back in for Staniforth to chase – Bonner’s clearance ricocheting back off the midfielder but luckily for 
Liverpool Libby Stout reacted quickly.
Bonner also cleared from another cross sent in from the left, after Easton had matched the run well, and Easton produced one of her trademark sliding tackles to prevent a strike.
At the other end of the field the Doncaster defence were struggling to handle Dowie, White and Longhurst, who were seemingly taking it in turns to drop back and link the midfield to the attack while switching positions amongst themselves up front. At one point Rosie White going central, before moving out left for Dowie to move back in the middle.
The trio were also getting into dangerous positions in the 18-yard box, perfectly poised to capitalise on the service provided by each other and Ryland and Pacheco out wide. The first Liverpool chance coming when a Ryland cross skimmed the edge of the 6-yard box and narrowly missed Longhurst and Dowie.
Dowie scored both goals in the Cup win against Everton last week and was back to her best once again this evening forcing a good save out of Nicola Hobbs, the no.9 creeping closer to opening the scoring with each passing minute.
Liverpool took the lead in the 13th minute, Dowie finishing well across Hobbs just inside the box after being set up by White – the whole play coming from a free kick won by Staniforth midway inside the Liverpool half.
10 minutes later it really should have been 2, Kate Longhurst’s cross from the byline somehow missing Katrin Omarsdottir and falling to Pacheco; Pacheco crossed back in from the left only for her ball to be cleared as far as Corina Schroder who fired over the crossbar.
It would soon be 2-0 however, Lucy Staniforth bagging a well-deserved goal after swinging the ball straight through the arms of Hobbs from the corner. The strike being her first in the red of Liverpool.
The visitors enjoyed the majority of possession for the rest of the half, the only notable Doncaster attack coming when Bethany England’s cross was superbly touched onto the crossbar by Libby Stout, the ball falling between Stout and the incoming Courtney Sweetman-Kirk but Stout quickly gathered the ball

Half-time: Doncaster Belles 0 – 2 Liverpool Ladies
Doncaster were beaten by Manchester City in their previous Continental Cup tie and the way the competition is set out – 5 games played in a group stage, with only the top 2 teams in each group of 3 guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals – 2 defeats in the opening games can be damning. As such, Doncaster came out fighting in the second-half.
Twice Libby Stout bravely came off her line and required treatment after clashing with the Belles forward, while Becky Easton was also clattered on a couple of occasions.
Liverpool refused to let their lead slip, Gemma Bonner in particular a colossal in the back line and resisting each Doncaster attack – aided by Easton and Schroder as the Reds defence recorded their second clean sheet of the year.
Schroder was making just her first start this half of the season, returning from injury and was replaced by Ashley Hodson as Liverpool made their first substitution; a forward on for a defender signalling a change in formation to a flat back four.
Hodson herself is returning from a knee injury that prevented her from appearing prior to the mid-season break, since starting the first game back at Arsenal the young striker has made 2 influential substitute appearances.
Although Doncaster were making attempts to get back in the game, Liverpool continued to pass the ball well with Staniforth in particular a highlight playing box-to-box, helping out both in defence and attack and linking well with White – White’s back heel almost picked up by Staniforth at the edge of the area, who regained possession to nutmeg the defender but was unable to get a shot in.
Liverpool had the ball in the back of the net after a wonderful passing move kick-started by Staniforth; the midfielder shielding the ball back into the path of Bonner who sent it long, the ball coming out to Zelem on the left wing and Hodson converting her cross but the linesman had his flag raised for offside.
It would be Hodson who would complete the evening’s scoring, her low strike from 18-yards out taking a slight defection from the defender but unmistakeably her goal – her first for the first team after netting an impressive 16 in 9 development appearances last season.
Into injury time, both Dowie – unlucky earlier in the half not to score a second after beating several yellow shirts on a great run – and Longhurst saw efforts to make it 4-0 blocked, while White shot over the crossbar. The game finishing 3-0 to Liverpool, who remain second in their Continental Cup group to Manchester City on goal difference.
Liverpool have a short break before their next game, returning to league action away against league leaders Sunderland Ladies next Saturday 8th August.

Full-time: Doncaster Belles 0 – 3 Liverpool Ladies

Liverpool XI Stout, Bonner ©, Easton, Schroder (Hodson), Ryland (Harris), Omarsdottir (Zelem), Staniforth, Pacheco, Longhurst, White, Dowie (4-3-3)

Player of the Match Lucy Staniforth 

MATCH REPORT: Birmingham City Ladies 1 – 0 Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool Ladies fell to a second straight league defeat at Birmingham City earlier today, the Reds beaten by a Karen Carney penalty in the first half.

 Matt Beard made just one change from the side that beat Everton Ladies midweek in the Continental Cup, Katie Zelem returning to the starting 11 following time away with England U19s and forming a midfield 3 with Lucy Staniforth and Katrin Omarsdottir. Up front Natasha Dowie led the line accompanied by Rosie White and Line Smorsgard; while in defence Liverpool reverted to a flat back 4 of Becky Easton, Gemma Bonner, Kate Longhurst and Martha Harris with Libby Stout in goal.

 Liverpool have been hit hard by injury in recent weeks, with Fara Williams, Asisat Oshoala and Satara Murray all confirmed to be unavailable for up to 2 months. With Murray out, Longhurst has admirably stepped back into defence; the forward in her third season at the club playing in an entirely new position and the no.7 was called into action early in the first half, as Birmingham pressed high up the pitch and looked to put Liverpool under pressure, twice clearing from high balls sent into the 18-yard box.

 The only goal of the game came in the 7th minute, the referee awarding the Blues a penalty after adjudging Martha Harris to have handled the ball just inside the area. England international and Birmingham captain Carney stepped up to send the spot kick home, Libby Stout unable to keep it out despite diving the right way.

 Birmingham continued to probe down each wing, Melissa Lawley a stand out on the right while Carney attempted to attack from the left; Becky Easton proving tough to beat for the skipper, dispossessing her on several occasions.

 Liverpool’s initial foray into the opposition area came after 10 minutes, Lucy Staniforth’s delivery from a set piece good and only just missing the run of Gemma Bonner at the back post, but their finest chances of the first half would come at the midway point.

 First, Katrin Omarsdottir won the ball deep inside the Reds half and clipped it back to Bonner who played a pass forward to Harris making the run down the left wing. Harris’ cross was picked up by Line Smorsgard who tried to tee up Natasha Dowie but Birmingham’s defence crowded the no.9 out.

 Minutes later Liverpool were once again quick to break after regaining possession, this time Longhurst winning the ball back in the Reds box and playing a quick one-two with Harris to run almost the entire length of the pitch – the eventual low cross collected by Becky Spencer in the Birmingham goal before Dowie could reach it.

 Towards the end of the half, Birmingham once more began to look the team most likely to score; Zelem blocking Kirsty Linnet’s cross, Bonner clearing a long ball that was sent back in and punched away by Stout – who also denied Lawley, saving her low shot after a mazy run from the halfway line.

 Half-time: Birmingham City Ladies 1 – 0 Liverpool Ladies

 During the early stages of the second half, Birmingham spurned chances to go 2-0 up. Omarsdottir continuing to frustrate Carney – who shot wide after being put under pressure from the Icelandic. Remi Allen also sent a strike high and wide after picking up on a loose ball when Omarsdottir blocked Linnett’s cross.

 Beard made a double substitution, introducing a tactical change as Ingrid Ryland and Ashley Hodson entered the fray in place of Lucy Staniforth and Line Smorsgard. Ryland’s entry seeing a change at the back as Longhurst moved into midfield, Easton to centre back with Ryland on the right.

 Hodson had made a difference after coming on as a substitute in the midweek derby and almost impacted the scoreline here shortly after taking to the field; Bonner finding herself battling Linnett in the Blues half, holding the striker off well to get the ball forward to Rosie White at the edge of the box, White’s shot was blocked as far as Hodson who’s first time strike from a narrow angle went over the crossbar.

 Up at the other end Stout produced a fantastic save from Jo Potter’s free kick, stretching to tip the set piece out for a corner, which went straight out for a goal kick.

 Liverpool continued to work hard prising for an opening with Bonner leading the attack from the back but the Reds just couldn’t find a way to break the stubborn Birmingham defence despite Hodson linking well with Zelem and a further formation change to 3 at the back following the introduction of Corina Schroder in place of Kate Longhurst.

 XI Stout, Easton, Bonner (C), Longhurst (Schroder), Harris, Omarsdottir, Zelem, Staniforth (Ryland), White, Smorsgard (Hodson), Dowie

 POTM Gemma Bonner

 The defeat leaves Liverpool 6th in the league table on 9 points, with 6 league games to play.

 Liverpool return to WSL action on Saturday 8th August when they travel to top of the league Sunderland Ladies, before that they face Doncaster Belles away this Thursday 30th July in the Continental Cup.

 Photo: Ian Mok

MATCH REPORT: Everton Ladies 0 – 2 Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool Ladies started their 2015 Continental Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Everton Ladies in front of a crowd of 1,073 supporters in Widnes.

 Reds no.9 Natasha Dowie was on target twice, netting both goals either side of half-time, Dowie has now scored a total of 7 goals against her former club.

 The injury struck Reds were without a number of key first team players in Fara Williams, Satara Murray and Asisat Oshoala – the ever-versatile Kate Longhurst moving alongside captain Gemma Bonner and Becky Easton in the centre of defence, with Mayumi Pacheco at left-wing-back and Martha Harris on the right.

 Lucy Staniforth was handed her first start in a red shirt, alongside Katrin Omarsdottir in midfield, while Line Smorsgard made her first start in the second half of the season as part of an attacking trio that also contained Dowie and Rosie White. Libby Stout retained her position in goal.

 Dowie gave Liverpool the lead in the opening minute, latching onto a back pass her first strike was blocked by Everton goalkeeper Kirstie Levell but Dowie regained possession, rounding the 18-year old keeper to tap the ball over the line from 6-yards out.

 The Liverpool striker could have had a hat-trick in the opening 10 minutes, a well struck low drive only just palmed wide before a second was blocked by the defence – Smorsgard sending the rebound over the bar.

 While Dowie was causing the Blues defence all kinds of problems, Lucy Staniforth was pulling the strings in midfield, as well as taking over set piece duties from Fara Williams, carrying the ball right through to the byline and cutting it back upfield to Maz Pacheco but her cross was cleared. Pacheco then shot wide after latching onto a loose ball following more good work from Staniforth on the left and moments later the midfielder was showing off her skills in the centre of the park – taking the ball down well and backheeling it to Omarsdottir.

 The two then almost combined to set up Line Smorsgard, Omarsdottir – not to be outdone in the skills department – neatly looping Staniforth’s pass over the top of the Everton back line; the defence reacting quickly to prevent birthday girl Smorsgard from connecting.

 Liverpool were almost punished for not taking their chances when Blues captain Michelle Hinnigan hit the post, an Amy Turner free kick was also blocked by the Reds wall before another strike took a deflection – leaving Libby Stout stranded but luckily for Liverpool bouncing the wrong side of the post.

 Rosie White had the greatest chance to make it 2-0 before half-time; Martha Harris, working tirelessly on the wing, putting her through into the 18-yard box with just the keeper to beat, Levell doing well to get down and block the New Zealanders strike.

 Half-time: Everton Ladies 0 – 1 Liverpool Ladies

 Emerging unchanged in personnel for the second half, Liverpool appeared to switch to a flat back 4 with Kate Longhurst moving forward into midfield.

 Despite the change, Pacheco continued to get forward, twice linking with Staniforth and kickstarting the Reds attack – the second of these leading to Longhurst shooting over the crossbar.

 Liverpool had a couple of scares early in the second half – first former player Kelly Jones somehow skewing her shot wide after slipping through the defence, then Simone Magill’s cross whizzing across the 6-yard box – falling to Hinnigan who couldn’t find a way back in past Pacheco.

 Everton were left to rue these missed opportunities when – only minutes after having a goal disallowed for offside – Natasha Dowie capitalised on yet another mix up in the Everton defence to volley home her second of the game.

 Liverpool’s first substitution of the game came as Ashley Hodson replaced Smorsgard, Hodson immediately involved in the thick of the action – putting Levell under pressure after a good delivery from Pacheco. Hodson also made a couple of fine runs forward, very nearly setting up White after a mazy run in from the right but White was pulled back for offside.

 The Reds were then forced into a second substitution as Gemma Bonner went down off the ball, Hannah Dale coming on for her – meaning Liverpool had 3 home grown players on the pitch, with one more on the bench in the form of 17-year old goalkeeper Rachel Darbyshire.

 Bonner leaving the field meant Longhurst once more stepped back into defence, the versatile forward has now played in numerous positions across the field for Liverpool this season and is guaranteed to give her all no matter where she plays – seeing the game out solidly from the heart of the Reds defence – clearly an Everton cross with ease, shielding a forward out wide and then superbly carrying the ball forward, all the way to the opposition 18-yard box, passing to Staniforth who’s shot was deflected and then tapped over the line by Dowie – the score remaining 2-0 as the linesman once again flagged Dowie for offside.

 Liverpool’s final substitution of the game seen Ingrid Ryland come on for the excellent Maz Pacheco, Ryland almost adding a 3rd goal in the final minute after the Reds were quick on the counter attack – her strike curling towards the top corner but wide.

 On the 90th minute Everton made all 3 of their substitutes at once, with former Liverpool development left-back Megan Alexander making her first appearance against her former club.

 Full-time: Everton Ladies 0 – 2 Liverpool Ladies

 XI Stout, Bonner (C) (Dale), Easton, Longhurst, Harris, Pacheco (Ryland), Omarsdottir, Staniforth, Smorsgard (Hodson), White, Dowie

 POTM Kate Longhurst

 The Continental Cup’s first stage sees the 18 teams from the FA Women’s Super League 1 & 2 split into 3 regional based groups of 6. Each team plays each other once, with the top 2 from each group qualifying for the quarter-finals – along with the 2 best third placed sides. Manchester City Women are the current holders of the cup, after beating Arsenal Ladies 1-0 in last year’s final.

 Liverpool’s attention turns back to the Women’s Super League on Sunday 26th July as they travel to Birmingham City Ladies in a 2pm kick-off.

MATCH REPORT: Liverpool Ladies 1 – 2 Notts County Ladies

Liverpool Ladies lost 2-1 at home to Notts County Ladies, the injury plagued Reds were defeated by goals either side of half-time from a rampant Jess Clarke. Rosie White had equalised in the first half on her first start.
The loss puts Liverpool 6th in the league table, 8 points from the top-of-the-league Chelsea Ladies – who suffered a 4-0 defeat at Sunderland Ladies.
There were a couple of changes to the side that beat Arsenal Ladies 3-1 away from home last weekend; Rosie White and Mayumi Pacheco both handed their full first-team debuts replacing Ashley Hodson and Katrin Omarsdottir. Ingrid Ryland and Lucy Staniforth, both missing last week, were named on the bench while Corina Schroder remains sidelined.
Liverpool also underwent a formation change, from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1. Becky Easton in front of a back four of Martha Harris at right-back, Gemma Bonner and Satara Murray in the centre and Pacheco on the left with Libby Stout in goal. 
Fara Williams partnered Kate Longhurst in the centre of midfield, White on the left, Asisat Oshoala on the right and Natasha Dowie up front. 
Liverpool captain Bonner was making her 50th appearance for the club.
Notts regularly draw plaudits for their defence, yet it was their attack that impressed most from the opening whistle as Dunia Susi, Ellen White and Jess Clarke got themselves in and around the Liverpool defence, putting the Reds under pressure. Susi’s cross in the second minute was cleared by the well-positioned Becky Easton but County surged forward again for Clarke to try her luck from 25 yards out, Libby Stout was wise to the danger and across to claim.
The visitors opened the scoring shortly afterwards, a free kick sent into the box by Alex Greenwood was headed on by E. White and finished by Clarke. 
1-0 up and barely pausing for breath, County continued to pile forward – Maz Pacheco dealing well with an awkward ball over the top before Satara Murray was put under pressure from Rachel Williams and E.White, clearing from inside the box but seconds later finding herself having to once more defend from the fast attack.
Liverpool began to find their feet with Natasha Dowie, who provided assists for 2 of the goals against Arsenal, dropping a little deeper to pick the ball up. Dowie drops deep, wins the ball with her back to goal, then turns to flick it on for Oshoala who can chase. On 2 occasions in the first half this played out, first Oshoala making it to the edge of the area only to be brought down by Amy Turner, then taking the ball out wide – with Fara Williams having made the run into the middle – but this time the Nigerian ran into traffic and was dispossessed. 
F.Williams swung a promising free kick into the box towards Gemma Bonner making a run at the back post, this was cleared as far as Oshoala whose strike was blocked. Liverpool were beginning to look the side most likely to score, up at the other end Gemma Bonner read a Notts set piece well to come out and prevent R.Williams from knocking the free kick on and Martha Harris’ shot-cross went so narrowly over the crossbar that some supporters in attendance thought it was in.
Those supporters in attendance, 867 a somewhat disappointing figure given the rise in ticket sales across the league, were soon rewarded with a goal.
The Reds won a free kick midway through the Notts half, Fara Williams sending a clever low ball towards Kate Longhurst, Longhurst saw her shot blocked but Notts couldn’t clear in time and Rosie White scored her first Liverpool goal from just inside the 6-yard box.
Liverpool finished the first half strongly, perhaps unlucky not to go in at the break ahead – Dowie bravely going for a cross in the box and being clattered by goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain. Chamberlain denied Dowie again, touching her long range strike over the crossbar.
Chamberlain then produced a good reaction save to stop Oshoala and collected Laura Bassett’s header after Liverpool produced their best football of the game – wonderfully tapping the ball around.
Shortly before the half-time whistle, Oshoala was challenged once again by Turner – this time requiring treatment on the pitch.
Oshoala emerged with the rest of the team after the break, however Satara Murray had also picked up an injury during the opening 45 minutes and was replaced by Katrin Omarsdottir. Not long into the second half, Oshoala could no longer play on – with Ashley Hodson coming on.
Murray leaving the pitch at half-time meant Becky Easton moved back alongside Gemma Bonner at centre-back and Omarsdottir took up the position of defensive midfielder.
The disruptions meant that the free-flowing football Liverpool had displayed towards the end of the first-half took a hit and once more they found themselves fending off the Notts attack. Bonner was everywhere, clearing 3 balls forward in quick succession.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, Notts were soon back in the lead. Jess Clarke scoring her second of the game and Ellen White with her second assist – Liverpool appealed that Clarke was offside when the ball was played, but the goal stood.
Matt Beard made his third and final change with Lucy Staniforth taking to the pitch in place of Natasha Dowie, the move seeing Kate Longhurst move up front – and later a formation change as Liverpool went to 3 at the back, Bonner, Easton and Harris, with Pacheco going to left wing.
Up front Longhurst continued to work tirelessly; breaking into the box, but carrying the ball a yard too far and having her strike from a tight angle save. Then Longhurst cleverly dummied a pass, Harris attempted to get behind the defence but Notts regained possession.
Liverpool’s afternoon went from bad to worse as Fara Williams had to leave the pitch, Williams had received treatment pitchside moments earlier but the injury would force her out of the game – Liverpool reduced to 10 players for the final 10 minutes plus injury time.
Rosie White had a late chance to equalise for the second time, receiving the ball with her back to goal and holding off her marker well to turn – the Reds new signing just couldn’t get the power behind the final shot and Chamberlain collected.
A disappointing afternoon for Liverpool, marred by injury. The team have a short turnaround before they are back in action, the Continental Cup group stage begins in Widnes on Thursday night with the first derby of 2015 against WSL2’s Everton Ladies. The game is classed as an Everton home game, Liverpool season ticket holders will need to buy tickets on the gate or online.
XI Stout, Harris, Bonner (C), Murray (Omarsdottir), Pacheco, Easton, Oshoala (Hodson), Williams, Longhurst, White, Dowie (Staniforth)
POTM Rosie White
To finish on a positive note, Liverpool Ladies Development Squad were presented with their trophy and medals from the 2014/15 title winning campaign. Sylvia Gore presenting team captain Shannon Beckwith the the trophy. Read a full season review on the development squad here.

MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool Ladies v Notts County Ladies

 Liverpool Ladies face Notts County Ladies on Saturday 18th July in their first home game since the Women’s World Cup.

 After attendances across the league upon it’s return last weekend were boosted in the wake of England’s success at the World Cup in Canada, Liverpool will be hoping for their biggest crowd of the season, if not a record WSL home attendance, at Select Security Stadium in Widnes. The current record is held by the final day of the 2013 season when 2,135 watched the Reds lift the league trophy after beating Bristol Academy.

 Tickets are available on the gate for the 2pm kick-off, priced at just £5 adults and £2.50 concessions.

 Last Sunday, Liverpool picked up an important 3 points away at previously unbeaten Arsenal Ladies. Fara Williams starred in the 3-1 win, opening scoring with a wonderfully struck long-range strike then providing the assist for Becky Easton to nod home her first goal for the club. After Arsenal had pulled one back, and Liverpool looked to be in for a nervy end to the game, Natasha Dowie set up Asisat Oshoala who chipped the ball neatly over Emma Byrne to secure the victory. 
 Rosie White also played her first 45 minutes as a Liverpool player, coming on for Katrin Omarsdottir at half-time and effortlessly slotting into the attack quartet that included Dowie, Oshoala and Kate Longhurst – almost scoring and turning well to bring the ball infield, her final strike the wrong side of the post. White could make her first start on her home debut. 
 Omarsdottir had returned from an injury which had capped her playing time during the first half of the season, her comeback also marking the return of the 4-2-3-1 formation which has given Matt Beard much success in his, almost, 3 years on Merseyside. Omarsdottir and Williams in the centre of midfield is one of the best partnerships amongst this Liverpool side, together they control and dominate the centre of the pitch, while also providing extra protection to the back 4.
 Liverpool had a trio of players missing last Sunday, Corina Schroder, Ingrid Ryland and Lucy Staniforth all having travelled with the squad but unavailable for the match day squad. Supporters could see Staniforth feature tomorrow, while there has been no official word on whether Schroder or Ryland will be available. Katie Zelem is still in Israel with England U19s.
 The Reds opponents Notts County suffered a last-minute defeat at the hands of Sunderland Ladies last weekend, Beth Mead scoring the winning goal in the 90th minute to lift the WSL1 newcomers Sunderland to 3rd in the table – tied on 12 points with 2nd placed Arsenal (Liverpool are in 5th on 9 points with a game in hand over those above them in the table).
 County are on 11 points, 2 ahead of Liverpool meaning a win for the home side will lift them above their visitors and into the top half of the table. They will be missing goalkeeper Carly Telford, Telford returned from the World Cup with an injury meaning Notts drafted in Telford’s England team mate Siobhan Chamberlain to cover until the end of the season.
 Jess Clarke and Ellen White will provide the main attacking threat for Notts, while Alex Greenwood is a danger from left-back – if Liverpool can prevent her getting down the wing and sending her pinpoint crosses into the box then they will cut off the main supply to County’s attack. 
 It was through Greenwood’s set piece in the last game before the break that Liverpool fell to a 1-0 defeat, the former Everton defender’s corner finding another ex-Blue Fern Whelan in the box.
 The last 3 games between the two sides has produced just the 2 goals, Liverpool have won one, drawn one and lost one.
 Finally, Liverpool Ladies Development Squad will receive their league trophy at half-time during the game. The young Reds were crowed league champions with 3 games to spare, for a full season review including a look at every player click here.  

MATCH REPORT: Arsenal Ladies 1 – 3 Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool Ladies returned to FA Women’s Super League action with a convincing 3-1 win away at previously unbeaten Arsenal Ladies.
 World Cup bronze medallist Fara Williams opened the scoring with a stunning long-range effort, Williams then provided an assist via a corner for Becky Easton to score her first goal for the club. 
 Arsenal pulled a goal back in the second half with substitute Natalia Pablos Sanchez expertly chipping Libby Stout, before Asisat Oshoala sealed the Liverpool win with a lob of her own over Emma Byrne.
 Danielle Gibbons, Corina Schroder, Ingrid Ryland and Lucy Staniforth were all sidelined for the Reds – the latter merely a precaution – while Katie Zelem is away on international duty with England U19s.
 Making a welcome return to the starting 11 was Katrin Omarsdottir, the Icelandic midfielder making her first start of the season, and Ashley Hodson, returning following a knee injury picked up in pre-season.
 Liverpool lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Natasha Dowie up front with Ashley Hodson, Kate Longhurst and Asisat Oshoala behind her. Omarsdottir partnered Fara Williams in midfield ahead of the back four of, from left to right, Martha Harris, captain Gemma Bonner, Satara Murray and Becky Easton – with Libby Stout in goal.

 Notably, both Fara Williams and Natasha Dowie making their 50th appearance for Liverpool.

Liverpool kicked the game off and immediately put their hosts on the back foot, pressing well and dominating the midfield – the return of Omarsdottir alongside Williams particularly significant.
 The team were also creating chances, almost scoring straight away and then Asisat Oshoala sending a shot wide of the post – perhaps put off by Arsenal defender Casey Stoney who had matched her into the box.
 2,016 supporters packed out Arsenal’s Boreham Wood ground, with a great many of those wearing the red of Liverpool.
 The travelling supporters didn’t have to wait long for a goal, Natasha Dowie brilliantly holding the ball with her back to go and flicking it into the path of Fara Williams, Williams wonderfully guided the ball past the helpless Emma Byrne in the Arsenal goal to put Liverpool 1-0 up.
Soon it was 2, Williams involved again – this time through a corner – swinging the set piece inside the 6-yard box for Becky Easton to nod the ball over the line from a yard out.
 At the other end of the pitch, Satara Murray produced her best performance for the club since her winter transfer. Tasked with handling Danielle Carter, Carter finding no way past the Reds defender – at one point in the first half, Carter found herself unable to turn midway in the Liverpool half with Murray coming from behind and dispossessing her. Later in the first half Murray also halted Carter at the edge of the box with a well-timed challenge and then prevented Alex Scott cutting the ball back up the box.
 Williams was a great presence in the midfield for Liverpool, having played in each of England’s World Cup games and only training back with the team for the first time on Thursday – 2 more of the midfielders set pieces were almost converted, Gemma Bonner narrowly missing a header at the back post for one and then Byrne coming out amongst a sea of bodies to claim another.
In the same game last season Liverpool no.1 Libby Stout produced her performance of the season in the 3-3 draw with a number of outstanding saves, it must be something about this ground as the American was excellent once again – denying Carla Humphrey in added time at the end of the first half, minutes after reacting quickly to an Arsenal corner that had bounced awkwardly before reaching her.
 Stout was helped no doubt by the defence in front of her, Gemma Bonner reliable as ever alongside Murray, with Kate Longhurst and Katrin Omarsdottir also dropping deep at points to snuff out any Arsenal attack.

 Both sides made substitutions at the midway point with New Zealand international Rosie White making her Liverpool debut after signing this week, White replacing Omarsdottir – with Longhurst moving back to partner Williams in midfield, White playing behind Natasha Dowie in-between Asisat Oshoala and Ashley Hodson. Arsenal’s Natalia Pablos Sanchez also took to the pitch in place of Jade Bailey.
 Liverpool continued to create chance after chance in the second half, Ashley Hodson tried her luck from outside the box – the strike looking to be going wide but Byrne taking no chance – Kate Longhurst had a rocket of a shot blocked by Alex Scott and newcomer Rosie White receiving the ball well on the right wing with a neat first touch, White brought the ball around onto her left foot but her effort went over the crossbar.
 Although not on the score sheet, Natasha Dowie led the line well once more for the Reds, holding the ball well and causing the Arsenal defence, in particular Casey Stoney, all kinds of problems getting in and around them.
 Arsenal reduced the deficit to 2-1 when substitute Natalia deftly chipped the ball over Libby Stout with the inside of her foot after connecting with a long ball forward, Liverpool felt the Gunners no.7 was offside.
 Liverpool’s second substitution of the game came as 16-year old Mayumi Pacheco came on for Fara Williams – Williams receiving a great reception from the home supporters as she was applauded off the pitch. Pacheco made her first team debut back in April, becoming the youngest player in the club’s history and continues to make great strides in her development – post-match it was great to see her in-demand amongst fans of both clubs as she signed autographs.
 Shortly before the 90 minutes were up, Arsenal had a free kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out – unfortunately for them this was sent straight into the arms of Libby Stout, allowing Liverpool to counter and Asisat Oshoala to score her 3rd goal of the season, lobbing the ball over Emma Byrne.
 Line Smorsgard was the last of the Liverpool substitutions, coming on for goal scorer Asisat Oshoala with minutes left on the clock.

LIVERPOOL XI:Stout, Easton, Bonner ©, Murray, Harris, Omarsdottir (White), Williams (Pacheco), Oshoala (Smorsgard), Longhurst, Hodson, Dowie
PHOTO – Ian Mok
A very important 3 points picked up on the road for Liverpool Ladies, the result leaves them 5th in the table but just 3 points behind Arsenal with a game in hand. The Reds take on 4thplaced Notts County, 2 points above them, next Saturday 18th July at home in a 2pm kick-off.
Grounds around the country reported a rise in attendance following the success of the England side at the World Cup, hopefully next weekend Liverpool too can benefit from the surge in popularity – tickets on the gate cost just £5 for adults and £3 concessions, hope to see you there!
While we were without Liverpool Ladies for the mid-season break, I took a trip across the pond where I watched Western New York Flash take on Seattle Reign in the NWSL. Read my match report from the 1-1 draw here, including a brief history on the club and the story of their season so far for those unfamiliar with them!

NWSL REPORT: WNY Flash v Seattle Reign

 Last summer I travelled to Washington, D.C. to watch Washington Spirit play Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), this year unfortunately my dates in America did not coincide with a Spirit home game and instead gave the opportunity to get to another NWSL side – Western New York Flash.

 Club History

 WNY Flash are a club formed in 2008, originally named Buffalo Flash. In 2011 the Flash joined the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league and became Western New York Flash. The club won the league title in their first and only WPS season, as the league would fold in early 2012.
 The remaining WPS clubs formed a league of their own after the collapse – the Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite. Once again the Flash were crowned league champions, playing just one season in the WPSL Elite.
 In fact, WNY Flash had won the league title in each of their previous 3 seasons, having also lifted the trophy in the W-League in 2010 – a familiar face to Liverpool supporters, Gemma Davison, helping them to an unbeaten campaign.
 The club has further ties to Liverpool Ladies through USA international Whitney Engen, who signed to the club initially in 2011 – picking up the title of WPS defender of the year. Engen signed for Liverpool the following winter and, as with her year at the Flash, won the league title with the Reds before departing for Tyreso FF in the Sweden.
 In 2013, WNY Flash joined 7 other clubs in forming the National Women’s Soccer League. A league formed by the U.S. Soccer Federation, each side would be assigned players from the USWNT along with players from Canada and Mexico. Each team has 3 spots for international players and their rosters are completed by domestic players from the United States.
 Flash would end the 2013 season top of the league, picking up the NWSL shield. However following the regular season end, the top 4 sides compete in the play offs for the league championship with Flash falling to a 2-0 defeat to Portland Thorns in the final.
 The following season the league was expanded to 9 teams, Flash came 7th, 7 points adrift of the play off spots after 12 defeats during the season. With 42 goals scored they had scored more than 5 out of the 6 teams above them and finished on a +4 goal difference.
 Before the 2015 campaign, Whitney Engen returned to the club after being traded with Carli Lloyd by Houston Dash, Sydney Leroux also moved east, traded by her club Seattle Reign for Abby Wambach.
 Other notable former players include Marta, Ashlyn Harris, Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan.

 This Season 

 Unlike the FA Women’s Super League, the NWSL has continued throughout the Women’s World Cup, meaning that teams have been without their national team players; each side losing a number of players and perhaps slightly skewing the league’s results so far.
 Prior to the home game with Seattle on Friday 3rd July, WNY Flash had played 9 games – 4 wins, 4 defeats and 1 draw putting them mid-table with games in hand over the teams above them in the league. 
 The opening 5 games seen the most damage; back-to-back defeats on the West Coast to Seattle Reign and Portland to start the season, conceding 6 goals and scoring just once – through Jordan Angeli.
 Flash’s opening home game against Boston Breakers recorded a 3-1 victory, Whitney Engen and Sydney Leroux both featuring for the first and only time at Sahlen’s Stadium this season – this being the final club game for them before joining up with the US Women’s Soccer Team. Leroux was on the scoresheet to tie up the result following earlier goals from Samantha Mewis and Becky Edwards.
 The win was followed by a double header with FC Kansas City, the two teams playing eachother home and away within the space of a week. Kansas beat the Flash 1-0 in Rochester before playing out a goalless draw at home days later.
 The next 4 games began to establish a better run of form for the upstate New Yorkers, battling Washington Spirit to a 3-2 win – after Spirit had twice come from behind to equalise – Lynn Williams, Sam Mewis and Jasmyne Spencer with the goals and rookie goalkeeper Robyn Horner drafted in to replace the injured Sabrina D’Angelo and the suspended Chantel Jones.
 Jones returned in the next game, a 3-1 win over the as-yet unbeaten Chicago Red Stars, saving a late penalty on her first league start for the club. Sam Mewis scored her 3rd goal of the season to open the scoring, assisted by new signing Elizabeth Eddy who would also score the Flash’s second goal. Jamia Field’s netted the third and final goal. 
 The upturn in fortunes on the pitch was also reflected in the stands, with crowds of 2,110 and 2,514 recorded at the Washington and Chicago game respectively. These numbers followed earlier season crowds of 1,873 and 1,802. 
 Back on the road WNY fell to a 2-0 defeat at Houston Dash, before beating Boston Breakers 2-0 for their first away win of the season with goals from Lynn Williams and Elizabeth Eddy. 

 Game Day

  Staying in New York City, without access to a car, the only reasonable way of getting to the game was via train. A 15-hour round trip, 7 and a half hours there, 7 and a half hours back. I will never complain about getting the train to Widnes for Liverpool’s home matches again! 
 The team play their football in Rochester, at the 13,000+ capacity Sahlen’s Stadium. All-time USA leading goal scorer Abby Wambach hails from Rochester and, having played for her hometown club, the path leading into the concourse of the stadium is named after her – Wambach Way. 
 2,377 fans were in the stands – the highest home attendance of the season yet – possibly a knock-on effect from the USWNT success in reaching the World Cup final, which was to be played 2 days later, piquing interest.
 As you enter the stadium, you’re handed a free programme and greeted by the club mascot – named Striker! They have a tent where you can buy the team shirt, t shirts, scarves, footballs and USA merchandise – and even print the shirts, if you want a player name, there and then for you.
 The Flash’s opponents on the day were former Arsenal coach Laura Harvey’s Seattle Reign side, the 2014 regular NWSL champions who famously went the entire season unbeaten before being defeated 2-0 by FC Kansas City in the Championship final. Reign boast Kim Little and Jessica Fishlock, Stephanie Cox and Keelin Winters amongst their ranks and had already beaten the Flash 5-1 earlier in the season. 
 Seattle lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Haley Kopmeyer in goal with Lauren Barnes and former Notts County defender Rachel Corsie the central defenders ahead of her, Stephanie Cox at left-back and Kendall Fletcher on the right. Keelin Winters partnered Mariah Noguieria in midfield, with Kim Little playing behind forward Beverley Yanez – Jessica Fishlock to their right and Danielle Foxhoven to their left.
 WNY Flash seemingly lined up 4-1-4-1, Chantel Jones between the posts and the back four in front of her composed of, from left to right, Jaelene Hinkle, Brittany Taylor, Abby Dahlkemper and Elizabeth Eddy. Ashley Nick occupied the space between the back four and the midfield four, which had Amanda Frisbie on the left, Jasmyne Spencer on the right and Becky Edwards and Samantha Mewis in the middle. Lynn Williams playing as the lone striker. 
 The opening five minutes presented Reign with the opportunity to take a hold of the game, the front four were passing the ball well but unable to break down the home side’s defence. Harvey’s side like to pass the ball out from the back, their first move of the game saw Mariah Nogueira attempt to carry the ball forward from deep in her own half. Flash intercepted and mounted an attack of their own, which was thwarted by Keelin Winters. 
 Kim Little pulls all the strings in Seattle’s attack, receiving the ball with her back to goal on the 3rd minute, turning to make a short pass to Jess Fishlock  the ball back in field to Winters, Winters just as quickly sending the ball back out to the left wing to Stephanie Cox. The fast move let down by the final cross, low into the box and easily collected by centre-back Abby Dahlkemper. 
 The Flash’s stand out player, particularly in the first half, was Samantha Mewis; quick to close players down, good control on the ball when under pressure and covering a fair amount of the pitch – her early pass out to Lynn Williams was converted for a corner, from which Jaelene Hinkle sent Flash’s first shot of the game wide of the post. 
 Hinkle’s strike was the first of 9 chances for the Flash in the first 45 minutes, as they earned 5 corners in total. The first on target after Jasmyne Spencer’s cross headed towards Williams was cleared for a corner – Little’s attempts to clear blocked by Brittany Taylor who powered the ball back forward for Dahlkemper to get her head on it, Haley Kopmeyer in the Reign goal in a good position to catch the header. 
 Amanda Frisbie seen her effort go over the crossbar, Becky Edward’s header was well-saved and Brittany Taylor shooting wide of the post. 
 Up at the other end of the pitch, the visitors just couldn’t find the breakthrough; Beverley Yanez was twice denied, first Chantel Jones producing a good save after Yanez had gotten on the end of a Little free kick, then the no.17 was intercepted on a run into the box by the brilliant Hinkle.
 Flash’s best period of the first half started with a quick counter attack, Jones had been quick off her line to claim a long ball and even quicker to distribute up the pitch for Lynn Williams. Williams sprinted to the opposition area, holding Little off, but her attempt to square the ball out wide was blocked. 
 Somehow WNY had failed to convert one of their many chances in the first half and the sides went in at the break goalless.
 Out for the second half, the game continued much the way of the first, with Flash dominating. Hinkle almost picked out Spencer with a ball over the top – Lauren Barnes heading away. Spencer then held Reign’s Steph Cox off to pass infield to Becky Edwards, Edwards turned and tried to play the ball forward yet towards Williams. Although the pass did not reach it’s intended target, seconds later Williams beat the Seattle back line but couldn’t convert her shot.
 Flash were left rueing their missed chances after conceding a penalty in the 53rd minute. Kim Little with a through ball played in front of Jess Fishlock, who picked it up at the edge of the area and was adjudged by the referee to have been fouled by Dahlkemper. Little stepped up to take the spot kick, sending Jones the wrong way to put Seattle in the lead (at this point, the Flash PA system began to play Shania Twain’s ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ – you don’t get that in Widnes!). 
 Undeterred Flash continued to press forward, Spencer teeing up Edwards for a shot which went wide, Mewis seeing a shot saved and Eddy and Spencer almost combining to set up Edwards for a header. 
 Both teams made a number of substitutions in the second-half; for Seattle, Danielle Foxhaven, Beverley Yanez and Mariah Noguieria made way for Kiersten Dallstream, Elli Reed and Amber Brooks while WNY subbed on Ajara Nchout Njoya and Kristen Hamilton for Amanda Frisbie and Ashley Nick. 
 Flash finally got the goal their performance deserved, Elizabeth Eddy fantastically beating her marker in the box to cut the ball back up for Lynn Williams to smash the ball past Kopmeyer – the pair had combined in the previous home game against Chicago Red Stars and even though Eddy was playing further back, managed to combine again to create the equaliser. Eddy signed for Flash just 2 months previously and looks to be a versatile, promising addition. 
 The game would finish all square, the home team recording 20 shots to their visitors paltry 1 and almost giving the biggest crowd of their season a grand stand finish on the 90th minute when Williams’ strike was tipped over the crossbar. From the corner, Jess Fishlock headed away initially, Williams sending it back in for Brittany Taylor to attempt a backheel at the edge of the 6-yard box – Kopmeyer was wise to her actions and saved at close range.
 Overall the game itself was thoroughly enjoyable – disappointing that Flash didn’t walk away with all 3 points! The team now head across country to face Seattle at their ground, before a run of 3 home games against Sky Blue FC, Houston Dash and Portland Thorns – games which should see the return of Engen and Leroux. Hopefully the side can start converting their chances and finish in the play off spots, I’d like to finish this blog by wishing the team and staff the best of luck for the rest of their season! 

MATCH PREVIEW: Arsenal Ladies v Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool Ladies will return to action on Sunday, following the FA Women’s Super League mid-season break for the Women’s World Cup.

 England’s unprecedented success has seen a spike in interest in the women’s game across the country – Liverpool’s Fara Williams featured on the front page of the Sunday Observer following her bronze medal winning penalty against Germany in the 3rd place play off.

 Liverpool’s opponents this Sunday, Arsenal Ladies, have reported a spike in ticket sales – selling 5 times the amount online as of yesterday, than they would have usually. With tickets also available on the gate, Arsenal are expecting a record crowd in the 6pm kick off at Boreham Wood FC. Entry is priced at £6 adults, £3 concessions and tickets are slightly cheaper if you buy online in advance. The game will also be shown live on BT Sport.

Fara Williams celebrates scoring v Germany

 Matt Beard has said this week that Fara Williams may not feature against Arsenal, having been one of England’s key players during their campaign and featuring in every game over the course of the tournament.

 Liverpool supporters can however look forward to seeing new signing 22-year old striker  Rosie White in action. The New Zealand international was announced yesterday, signing for the Reds from UCLA. White has scored 14 goals in 71 appearances for New Zealand, most recently featuring for her country at the World Cup – finishing bottom of Group A after 2 draws and a defeat.

 Lucy Staniforth will be like a new signing, the midfielder made a number of substitute appearances for the first team before the break while also building up her fitness with the development squad; Katrin Omarsdottir and Ashley Hodson should also return to the first team set up following injury.

 The Reds will be without Nicole Rolser, who recently departed for Bayern Munich, Katie Zelem, away with England U19s in Israel, and goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons who is recovering from surgery to remove a benign brain tumour.

 Results were not going the clubs way in the first half of the season, defeat away to Birmingham in the FA Cup was followed by an opening day league defeat to newcomers Sunderland Ladies.

 Switching to the 4-1-4-1 formation, with Becky Easton as a holding midfielder, Martha Harris making a mark on the right back position and Fara Williams playing higher up the pitch, begun to produce better performances – Asisat Oshoala providing the flair from right wing, scoring one and assisting Williams in a 2-1 league win against Birmingham. Liverpool were then unlucky to fall to a 1-0 loss away at Chelsea before beating Manchester City the following week. In the final game before the break, Notts County recorded a 1-0 victory over Liverpool, despite the Reds, arguably, again being the better team on the afternoon.

 The change in personnel, with Rolser gone, Staniforth, Omarsdottir and Hodson returning and White coming in, could again see a change in formation. Gemma Bonner was voted @LFCladiesfans Player of the Season at the midway stage and the Liverpool captain will again be a key player during the second half of the campaign.

Lucy Staniforth can be a key player in the Liverpool midfield

 Liverpool’s hosts for the evening Arsenal Ladies are 6 points ahead in the league table, with a game in hand. The Gunners sit in 2nd place, 2 points behind leaders Chelsea Ladies. New manager Pedro Martinez Losa has overseen a turnaround in fortunes for the side after a disappointing campaign last year.

 Losa has made a trio of new signings over the break – Spanish midfielder Marta Corredera, Dutch goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaa arriving along with Dominique Janssen, a defender also from Holland.

 Arsenal’s outgoings include Caroline Weir to Bristol Academy, Siobhan Chamberlain on loan to Notts County and Lianne Sanderson to an as yet unnamed side. Kelly Smith will also be missing through injury, with Jordan Nobbs also a doubt.

 To give us the point-of-view from Arsenal Ladies, long-time supporter Nic Stonebridge answered a few questions;

 Q Arsenal Ladies sit 2nd in the league and remain unbeaten ahead of Liverpool’s visit, a contrast to last season’s start of 4 defeats in the opening 6 games – with largely the same group of players. Is this the effect new manager Pedro Martinez Losa has had on the club, what has he changed?

 A The club went through a bad spell at the beginning of last season which showed on the pitch. I think Losa coming in brought some much needed stability to the players. He also was aware he wanted an attractive form of football to be player, very much the Arsenal way.

 Q Losa has made a number of new Spanish signings, how have winter arrivals Natalia Pablos Sanchez and Vicky Losada fitted in with their team mates?

 A The Spanish players has fitted in well at Arsenal. Natalia coming from Bristol Academy we knew how good a player she is and with 3 goals already she looks to be continuing that form.

 Losada too fits the Losa way of playing. He knows what she is capable of having coached her at Western New York Flash and he has also just brought in Spanish midfielder Marta Corredera so we should see a good link up between the 3 this season.

 Q Who are your key players Liverpool supporters can look out for on Sunday?

 A Look out for Leah Williamson and Carla Humphrey, Leah is obviously known for that pressure penalty for England in the under 19 Euros. Leah’s mate Carla is a very talented player too, she made great strides in the first half of the season and I expect them both to make an impact if player. Also, if Chioma Ubogagu continues where she left off last season she could make life difficult for Liverpool!

 Q England’s success at the World Cup has drawn a spotlight to the women’s game, do you think we will see an increase in support for clubs in the Women’s Super League?

 A I really hope so! The World Cup had great viewing figures! If that could be transferred to attendance in the FAWSL that would be amazing. People now see the talent there is in the women’s game, plus it’s cheap to take the family – a great day out!

 Q What is your score prediction for the game? 

 A I don’t usually do score predictions, but as you asked I expect a close game but I think the Gunners will come out 2-1 winners… in front of a big crowd (hopefully)!

Arsenal Ladies v Liverpool Ladies, 
Sunday 12th July, 6pm kick-off, 
Boreham Wood FC. 

Live on BT Sport.