Ellen White scored twice in the first-half for Notts County Ladies, sending them into the Continental Cup final at the expense of Liverpool Ladies.
Liverpool’s bad luck with injury has been relentless this season and tonight seen Gemma Bonner, Martha Harris and Asisat Oshoala join Libby Stout, Line Smorsgard, Becky Easton, Corina Schroder and Kate Longhurst on the sidelines – Fara Williams made a welcome return from a 3 month lay-off during the game’s closing stages.
|Liverpool’s 8 injured first team players|
Due to this, the Reds had a young line up with Shannon Beckwith making her first start alongside Satara Murray, Ingrid Ryland and Maz Pacheco in defence, while with Stout still out Danielle Gibbons retained her place in goal.
Hannah Dale also came into the side but Liverpool were otherwise unchanged – Natasha Dowie up front with Rosie White and Ashley Hodson in support and Katrin Omarsdottir and Katie Zelem in midfield.
Liverpool had the first chance of the game and were denied only by the woodwork; the ball had been played out from the back initially as Beckwith intercepted a through ball, this allowed R.White and Dowie to break with the former teeing up the latter. Dowie’s shot was deflected wide, R.White’s corner crashed off the crossbar and Murray could only head over the rebound.
It would be County who took the lead after just 5 minutes, the referee gave a handball against Ryland and E. White headed former Everton defender Alex Greenwood’s set piece across the line.
The visitors are renowned for their tricky set pieces, a free kick against Arsenal earlier in the season saw White score after what had appeared to be confusion between several players was merely a ruse. Here tonight in Widnes they tried a sneaky move again, Omarsdottir however wise to Greenwood lurking away from the dead ball and getting in the way of her strike.
Liverpool were pressing well, particularly in the midfield area with Dale buzzing everywhere, snapping at the heels of the Notts players and generally getting herself into good positions – another corner taken by R.White had fallen to the young midfielder in space outside of the box, this reaching Murray who’s header towards goal was blocked.
Another good run by Dale was picked out minutes later, R.White had been delayed taking a free kick in the Liverpool half as E.White for Notts kicked the ball away. Once she had the ball back at her feet, Pacheco had gotten herself further up the left wing and, upon receiving the ball, played it through to Dale but the pass was cut out.
Frustratingly it was then E.White who would score her second and double Notts’ lead, tucking home Dani Buet’s cross sent in from the right.
The best chance for Liverpool to pull a goal back came minutes before half-time as Pacheco made a powerful charge forward from left-back, her cross was chested to R.White by Omarsdottir but the New Zealand international’s low drive went the wrong side of the post and the Reds went in 2 down at the break.
In the middle of the pitch Zelem gave an eye-catching performance, one driving run just before half-time seen her go all the way to the edge of the 18-yard box yet here she was quickly closed down and couldn’t get a shot in.
Zelem was also creating chances both for herself and her team mates; shooting wide from 30-yards shortly into the second half, setting Hodson up with a defence-splitting pass and then putting through Dowie – the no.9 going through on goal, battling all the way with Laura Bassett and seeing her strike stopped by Carly Telford, although a foul had been given against the striker.
Liverpool made a trio of substitutions in the midfield area as the half grew on, Lucy Staniforth on for Dale, Mollie Green making her first team debut replacing R.White and Fara Williams, making her first appearance since picking up a hamstring injury in the league defeat against County here back in July, coming in for the impressive Zelem.
It just wasn’t to be for the Reds on the night, Dowie unable to reach Beckwith’s long ball over the top and Hodson seeing the ball headed away before she could reach Pacheco’s cross inside the box, while up at the other end E.White was denied her hat trick by the linesman and Jess Clarke seen a tap-in go wide.
Liverpool next face Brescia CF in their second leg Champions League Round of 32 tie this Wednesday (October 14), looking to overcome a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in Italy last week.
LIVERPOOL LADIES Gibbons, Ryland, Beckwith, Murray, Pacheco, Omarsdottir, Zelem (Williams), White (Green), Dale (Staniforth), Hodson, Dowie (C)
PLAYER OF THE MATCH Katie Zelem