A YEAR IN REVIEW: 2015

Welcome to @LFCladiesfans 2015 Review!
AFTER WINNING back-to-back league titles, Liverpool Ladies stuttered to a 7th place finish in 2015 as injuries to key players wreaked havoc in Matt Beard’s squad.

The Reds however reached the semi-finals of the Continental Cup despite their heavily depleted ranks and, having had the opportunity to, have blooded numerous youngsters into the first team who have now gained invaluable experience at the top level.

Liverpool played 29 games (24 competitive) this year and I’m proud to have supported the team at every game, from Derby to Brescia, as well as 19 youth games.

This review will take a look at every first team game, reveal who you voted to follow in the steps of Natasha Dowie and Lucy Bronze as @LFCladiesfans Player of the Year and will look forwards as Liverpool look to go again in 2016 under the new stewardship of former assistant manager Scott Rogers – taking over after Matt Beard’s departure to Boston Breakers.

It will also give you a look at the Red’s newest signings, a trio announced just before Christmas – England international Siobhan Chamberlain and upcoming midfielder Laura Coombs along with Wales captain Sophie Ingle – and tell you who to look out for from the club’s current development and under-17 sides.

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Fixtures & Results

25/01/15  (h)  ASTON VILLA* 4 – 1     friendly   
17/02/15  (a)  DERBY COUNTY 8 – 0     friendly
22/02/15  (h)  YEOVIL TOWN 0 – 1     friendly
03/03/15  (h)  EVERTON LADIES 1 – 0     friendly
14/03/15  (h)  DONCASTER BELLES 1 – 1     friendly
22/03/15  (a)  BIRMINGHAM CITY 1 – 3     The FA Cup     att. 401
25/03/15  (h)  SUNDERLAND LADIES 1 – 2     FAWSL     att. 1,014
01/04/15  (h)  BIRMINGHAM CITY 2 – 1     FAWSL     att. 421
19/04/15  (a)  CHELSEA LADIES 0 – 1     FAWSL     att. 878
26/04/15  (h)  MANCHESTER CITY 2 – 1     FAWSL     att. 1,022
10/05/15  (a)  NOTTS COUNTY 0 – 1     FAWSL     att. 2,057
12/07/15  (a)  ARSENAL LADIES 3 – 1     FAWSL     att. 2,061
18/07/15  (h)  NOTTS COUNTY 1 – 2     FAWSL     att. 867
23/07/15  (a)  EVERTON LADIES 2 – 0     Conti Cup     att. 1,073
26/07/15  (a)  BIRMINGHAM CITY 0 – 1     FAWSL     att. 778
30/07/15  (a)  DONCASTER BELLES 3 – 0     Conti Cup     att. 807
08/08/15  (a)  SUNDERLAND LADIES 2 – 2     FAWSL     att. 1,008
15/08/15  (h)  DURHAM WOMEN FC 1 – 0     Conti Cup     att. 493
22/08/15  (h)  BRISTOL ACADEMY 2 – 0     FAWSL     att. 492
26/08/15  (h)  SUNDERLAND LADIES 2 – 0     Conti Cup     att. 482
30/08/15  (a)  MANCHESTER CITY 0 – 2     Conti Cup     att. 1,890
05/09/15  (h)  ARSENAL LADIES 0 – 2     FAWSL     att. 769
10/09/15  (a)  MANCHESTER CITY 0 – 2     FAWSL     att. 1,009
13/09/15  (a)  BRISTOL ACADEMY 4 – 1     Conti Cup     att. 361
27/09/15  (h)  CHELSEA LADIES 0 – 4     FAWSL     att. 1,013
04/10/15  (a)  BRISTOL ACADEMY 2 – 4     FAWSL     att. 721
07/10/15  (a)  BRESCIA FEMMINILE 0 – 1     Champions League     att. 2,700
11/10/15  (h)  NOTTS COUNTY 0 – 2     Conti Cup     att. 538
14/10/15  (h)  BRESCIA FEMMINILE 0 – 1     Champions League     att. 387 


*Click the team name above to read the corresponding match report.

W 12 / D 2 / L 15

Attendances

 
Across the Women’s Super League top tier attendances in general have risen admirably with Notts County going from a 2014 average of 830 to 1,324 and Manchester City from 949 to 1,500. At Liverpool it’s a different story as the Reds have actually seen their average attendance rise by just 60 supporters, from 740 to 800 and crowds at Widnes even dipped after the World Cup – albeit on a small sample size.

Post-World Cup clubs across the league recorded season-high attendances, Liverpool’s opponents in the first game back away at Arsenal attracting over 2,000 supporters in comparison to the 815 that attended their final home game before the tournament. Although Arsenal’s crowd dipped back down to 804 for the Notts County game, the visits of Manchester City and Chelsea Ladies drew 1,422 and 1,517 respectively.

In Widnes before the break Liverpool had entertained a crowd of 1,022 as they defeated City 2-1, this dropped to 867 for the defeat to Notts County and went lower again to 492 before climbing to 769 for September’s visit of Arsenal and ending on 1,013 for the Chelsea tie.

Below you can find league averages from 2014 and 2015 for each of the WSL1 clubs:


LIVERPOOL LADIES

2014

Total attendance: 5,178 / Average attendance: 740

2015

Total attendance: 5,598 / Average attendance: 800 (before WC: 819, after WC: 785)

NOTTS COUNTY

2014

Total attendance: 4,983 / Average attendance: 830 (based on 6 games, no Bristol home game)

2015

Total attendance: 9,265 / Average attendance: 1,324 (before WC: 1,303, after WC: 1,351)

BIRMINGHAM CITY

2014

Total attendance: 5,701 / Average attendance: 814

2015

Total attendance: 5,021 / Average attendance: 717 (before WC: 565, after WC: 920)

MANCHESTER CITY

2014

Total attendance: 6,643 / Average attendance: 949

2015

Total attendance: 10,500 / Average attendance: 1,500 (before WC: 959, after WC: 1,717)

CHELSEA LADIES

2014 N/A – unable to gather 4/7 of attendances.

2015

Total attendance: 9,819 / Average attendance: 1,403 (before WC: 1,143, after WC: 1,507)

BRISTOL ACADEMY

2014

Total attendance: 5,158 / Average attendance: 737

2015

Total attendance: 5,294 / Average attendance: 756 (before WC: 737, after WC: 771)

ARSENAL LADIES

2014

Total attendance: 4,175 / Average attendance: 696 (based on 6 games)

2015

Total attendance: 8,244 / Average attendance: 1,178 (before WC: 813, after WC: 1,324)

SUNDERLAND LADIES

2014 N/A – WSL2

2015

Total attendance: 6,527 / Average attendance: 932 (before WC: 798, after WC: 1,033)

Goals

Since her winter move from Everton Ladies in 2012, Natasha Dowie topped the goal scoring charts in both 2013 and 2014 so it was no surprise to find the reliable no.9 tormenting opposition defences once more with 14 goals in 24 appearances, bringing an all-time total in a red shirt to 46 in 67.

Dowie Goal of the Season


v Sunderland (8 August)

Stealing the ball just inside the Sunderland half after closing down the defender, Dowie carried the ball forward to expertly chip the ball over the keeper to equalise for the Reds.

@50 seconds


Full breakdown of goal scorers & opposition scored vs: 

Natasha Dowie   14   v Birmingham City, Everton Ladies x 2, Doncaster Belles, Sunderland Ladies x 2, Durham WFC & Bristol Academy x 7
Asisat Oshoala   3   v Birmingham City, Manchester City & Arsenal Ladies
Fara Williams   2   v Birmingham City & Arsenal Ladies
Rosie White   2   v Notts County & Sunderland Ladies
Satara Murray   1   v Sunderland Ladies
Line Smorsgard   1   v Manchester City
Becky Easton   1   v Arsenal Ladies
Lucy Staniforth   1   v Doncaster Belles
Ashley Hodson   1   v Doncaster Belles
Katrin Omarsdottir   1   v Sunderland Ladies


January

The beginning of 2015 seen the arrival of Satara Murray, a defender who had spent time with Washington Spirit and recently graduated from the University of North Carolina, and African Women’s Footballer of the Year Asisat Oshoala. 

The duo completed the Reds business in the transfer market, after welcoming Norwegian pair Ingrid Ryland and Line Smorsgard in December, as the first team returned to training and took on Aston Villa in their first public pre-season friendly.


25 January – LIVERPOOL LADIES 4 ASTON VILLA 1 
[Friendly]

WSL2 side Aston Villa were the opponents as Liverpool began 2015 with a bang, putting 4 past the Midlanders.

Natasha Dowie had been on target earlier in the month in a behind-closed-doors draw with Everton and opened the scoring here on the afternoon, initially seeing a shot blocked from a Fara Williams corner but converted the rebound.

Oshoala and Murray both impressed in their debut appearances, and both would find the back of the net – Oshoala doubling the advantage before half-time with a great solo effort after a mazy run, dodging past a number of Villa shirts.

Villa pulled a goal back early in the second-half before Dowie re-extended the lead to 2 goals with the pick of the afternoon’s goals, timing her run well before clinically chipping the ball over the goalkeeper.

Murray rounded off a Player of the Match display with a thumping header after another Williams set piece, the game finishing 4-1.

During the game Matt Beard handed debuts to no less than 5 youth players with Mayumi Pacheco, Emilie Revitt, Vicky Rumsey, Bethany Donoghue and Rachel Darbyshire. Rumsey has since left the club to go to University in Bath, you can read about each player in more detail here.


February

AN interview with Corina Schroder on a German website ensured February got off to a positive start, as the left-back confirmed her contract extension would take her up until Autumn 2017 and joked that she could turn out for the English national team one day.


17 February – DERBY COUNTY 0 LIVERPOOL LADIES 8 
[Friendly]


Schroder followed her interview by netting in the 8-nil thrashing of Derby County, an excellent all-round display on the left wing capped by a second-half goal.

Kate Longhurst had opened the scoring after 10 minutes, with Williams and Nicole Rolser making it 3-0 at the break.

Dowie then put herself on the score sheet before setting up Schroder’s goal and also providing the assist for Williams to grab her second.

Line Smorsgard came from the bench to nab herself a debut goal, before Longhurst sealed the win with a volley smashed into the top left corner.

22 February – LIVERPOOL LADIES 0 YEOVIL TOWN 1 
[Friendly]


The only defeat during pre-season came as Yeovil Town paid the Reds a visit, the WSL2 side impressing against the current English champions. Full credit to Yeovil’s approach refusing to sit back and not allowing Liverpool to settle.

Liverpool hit the crossbar no less than 3 times during the first-half, Williams, Dowie and Bonner all denied by the woodwork before Amy Wathan headed the winning goal past Danielle Gibbons in the second half to give Yeovil the victory.


A quartet of players were missing from Liverpool’s match day squad: Katrin Omarsdottir away with Iceland and Ashley Hodson, Satara Murray and Martha Harris with England U23s – Hodson and Murray both making their international debuts alongside regular Harris in a friendly.

March

3 March – LIVERPOOL LADIES 1 EVERTON LADIES 0 
[Friendly]

As we’ll also see later in the year Natasha Dowie has made a habit out of scoring against her former club Everton, with the Blues relegated to the WSL2 for the 2015 season pre-season gave her a chance to add a few more to that tally with the aforementioned goal in the behind-closed-doors game and then the winner on the night here.


Dowie captained the side with Gemma Bonner joining Fara Williams on international duty.

With more players away another young duo were given a taste of a first team match day experience, exciting midfield prospect Kess Elmore making her debut during the second-half and centre-back Olivia Fuller amongst the substitutes.

A day after the derby win Williams captained England to an opening day 3-1 win over Finland in the Cyprus Cup, Bonner also started the game but was red carded late on. One week later on 11 March, England lifted the Cyprus Cup after beating Canada 1-0.

14 March – LIVERPOOL LADIES 1 DONCASTER BELLES 1 
[Friendly]

For the final game of pre-season Matt Beard finally had a full squad to choose from – probably the only occasion all year – however Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Glen Harris’ Doncaster Belles. The Belles deservedly secured promotion back to WSL1 in October.


Bonner returned from Cyprus to score from the bench but a mix-up at the back gifted the visitors their equaliser.

On the whole Liverpool had looked like a solid unit, Williams a notable presence in midfield and Kate Longhurst looking sharp. 

A major positive from the evening was the long-awaited return of Lucy Staniforth, who signed for the Reds last year and made her return from an ACL injury during last pre-season before suffering the same injury to the opposite knee and playing no further part in 2014. Staniforth would be eased back into playing, a couple of substitute appearances during the first half of 2015 while also featuring for the development squad and becoming a prominent member of the first team during the latter stages of the season – ironically scoring her first goal for the club against Doncaster Belles in a 3-0 cup win in July.

In total Liverpool played 5 pre-season ties, winning 3, losing 1 and drawing 1. They scored 14 goals and conceded just 2.


22 March – BIRMINGHAM CITY 3 LIVERPOOL LADIES 1 

[The FA Cup]


WSL1 clubs enter The Women’s FA Cup at the fifth round and Liverpool were handed the toughest draw of the round with a tricky tie away at fellow top flight side Birmingham City, one of the teams Liverpool pipped to win the league title at the end of the last campaign.

Poor finishing initially prevented the hosts from taking the lead, yet stand-in captain Jade Moore soon gave her side the lead after slipping through the Reds defence.

Dowie then notched her first competitive goal of the year to equalise, getting her head on the end of a Schroder cross after hard work by Smorsgard on the left.

Birmingham re-took the lead before half-time through a Jo Potter free-kick and Liverpool were caught on the break in the 90th minute, conceding a penalty which Remi Allen converted to send the Reds out of the cup.

The game also marked the beginning of Liverpool’s injury woes which would define their season, Katrin Omarsdottir and Ashley Hodson missing – the former with concussion and the latter having undergone knee surgery.

25 March – LIVERPOOL LADIES 1 SUNDERLAND LADIES 2 
[FAWSL]


Days later the first ever side to be promoted to the top flight in England came to the Select Stadium looking to make an instant impact in the opening game of the Women’s Super League season.

Sunderland took a 1-0 lead in at half-time after Beth Mead converted a cross and doubled their advantage as former Everton player Brooke Chaplen scored from the spot.

Murray pulled a goal back on her first league start, this coming too late for Liverpool to find a second to equalise and the game finishing 2-1 to Sunderland.


April


1 April – LIVERPOOL LADIES 2 BIRMINGHAM CITY 1
[FAWSL]


The Reds returned to winning ways with one of their best performances of the year over the Birmingham City side that had dumped them out of the cup weeks earlier.

A surprise change to the starting 11 seen Becky Easton start at defensive midfield, the change bringing a much-needed steel to the middle of the park and allowing Fara Williams to push higher up the pitch.

Martha Harris was carving opportunities for her teammates from right-back and Kate Longhurst seen a seemingly legal strike ruled out for a foul in the build-up.

Liverpool took the lead through Asisat Oshoala, the Nigerian volleying Gemma Bonner’s cross over the line and then setting up Williams who made it 2-0.

Aoife Mannion pulled a goal back for Birmingham but it would finish 2-1 to Liverpool who picked up their first competitive win of the year.

The victory was marred only by an incident in the late stages of the game, Longhurst knocked out by a Remi Allen challenge and the no.7 took to Twitter after the game to reassure supporters that she was “absolutely fine, just had a nap on the pitch and got a little bump.”

19 April – CHELSEA LADIES 1 LIVERPOOL LADIES 0
[FAWSL]


Unfortunate not to pick up at least a point in this contest away at eventual league winners Chelsea Ladies, Eni Aluko audaciously chipping the ball over Libby Stout for the only goal of the game.

Aluko then gave Liverpool a chance to equalise, the referee awarding a penalty after Aluko handled Williams’ free kick in the area however, agonizingly, this pre-empted a rare miss from 12 yards from Williams as her spot kick struck the post.

Aside from the goal the Reds had contained Chelsea’s attackers well, Harris frustrating former teammate Gemma Davison and Bonner dealing superbly with the threat of PFA Player of the Year Ji So-Yun with countless well-timed challenges.

26 April – LIVERPOOL LADIES 2 MANCHESTER CITY 1
[FAWSL]


Matt Beard named an unchanged side for the third game running for this exciting, up-tempo clash.

City had the first real chance of the game – a free kick sailing into the arms of Stout – before Liverpool took the lead on 9 minutes, Oshoala prodding the ball over the line from Williams’ corner to score in her second successive home game.

On-loan Everton striker Nikita Parris loves a goal against Liverpool so it came as no surprise when she headed past Stout to equalise for the visitors who enjoyed a brief period on top in the game.

This was to be short lived as an excellent bit of play from the Reds saw Harris take a throw-in short to Dowie, she knocked the ball back out to Oshoala who hit a cross first time to Line Smorsgard to head the ball into the back of the net to lift Liverpool to 3rd in the league table after 4 games played.


Also in April: Emilie Revitt almost made her full international debut for Wales against Slovakia – the defender fully prepped and ready to take to the pitch before the 4th official informed the Welsh coaching staff they were unable to make any further changes. Revitt was an integral part of the club’s development side that lifted the league trophy in 2014/15 and unfortunately injured her ACL during pre-season for the 2015/16 campaign, ruling her out for the season. Due to have her operation in early 2016.

Former Liverpool youth player Yasmine Swarbrick capped a successful first season with Preston North End by opening the scoring in the FA Plate final as Preston lifted the trophy!


May

10 May – NOTTS COUNTY 1 LIVERPOOL LADIES 0

[FAWSL]


The last game before the mid-season (more of a quarter-season) break for the Women’s World Cup seen Liverpool once more defeated away from home – 3 successive defeats away from Widnes.


It could have been much different had Oshoala’s cross-shot not ended in the arms of Notts keeper Carly Telford in the opening minutes, as in the Chelsea game a couple of weeks earlier Liverpool dominated but ultimately left frustrated after a pair of former Everton players Alex Greenwood and Fern Whelan combined to nab the games only goal. 


In happier news, Liverpool’s development squad secured their 2014/15 league title with 2 games to spare with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Everton Ladies. Read a full season review on their campaign here.


June


Fara Williams would be Liverpool’s only representative for England at the Women’s World Cup in Canada and was an integral part of the team that came third, going further than England had gone before and winning the bronze medal after beating Germany 1-0 in the third place play-off.

The Reds midfielder featured in every game for England, playing 637 minutes of football across 7 games and playing a part in almost half of England’s goal – scoring 3 and assisting 2.

Her first goal came in the decisive group game again Colombia in Montreal – a game in which Williams was also named Player of the Match. 

This set up a Round of 16 clash with Norway in Ottawa where former Liverpool defender Lucy Bronze scored an eye opening winning goal to send the Lionesses into the quarter-finals for a tasty clash with host nation Canada.

England raced 2-0 ahead with goals from Jodie Taylor and another from Bronze, Canada legend Christine Sinclair pulled a goal back but England were into the semis to face Japan.

Williams once again scored from the spot to level the score as the tie looked poised to be headed into extra time, however it was to be heartbreak for England as Notts County’s Laura Bassett sent the ball into her own net in the 92nd minute.

The country rallied around the side as they prepared for the third place play off against the much-fancied Germans, the game went into extra time before Lianne Sanderson was fouled in the penalty area and Williams stepped up to coolly smash the ball past former FIFA World Player of the Year Nadine Angerer to ensure England returned home with the bronze medal.

Elsewhere at the World Cup Asisat Oshoala and Nigeria had found themselves drawn into the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’ alongside USA, Sweden and Australia and, after 1 draw and 2 defeats, the Super Falcons headed home.

Oshoala scored on her World Cup debut in their opening group game – the thrilling 3-3 draw against Sweden which was one of the games of the competition – but was unable to add to her tally as Nigeria were defeated 2-0 by Australia and 1-0 by eventual winners USA.

July

Just 3 days before returning to action Liverpool Ladies announced the signing of New Zealand international Rosie White, the forward had recently made 2 substitute appearances at the World Cup and would be the only signing of the summer.

12 July – ARSENAL LADIES 1 LIVERPOOL LADIES 3

[FAWSL]
The games came thick and fast in July, 5 games in 18 days for Liverpool starting with a tricky away game at previously unbeaten Arsenal Ladies. Before the break Liverpool had failed to pick up a win on the road and from the opening whistle it was clear they were looking to make amends for this.

5 players were missing for Liverpool through either injury or international duty but the Reds took a 2-0 lead in at half-time after Dowie set up Williams for a spectacular strike and Becky Easton nodded a Williams corner past the goalkeeper.

Substitute Natalia reduced the deficit to 2-1 for the Gunners however Oshoala made it 3-1 after Liverpool countered quickly from an Arsenal free kick.

Rosie White made her debut as a second-half substitute.

18 July – LIVERPOOL LADIES 1 NOTTS COUNTY 2
[FAWSL]

If the game against Arsenal felt like a turning point, then this game certainly felt like a step back as the injury list grew.


Jess Clarke scored for the visitors in each half while White had scored a first half equaliser on her first start.

Liverpool lost both Fara Williams and Asisat Oshoala to injury during the game, Oshoala would return in October while Williams played no further part in the Reds season.

Elsewhere in the league top-of-the-table Chelsea had fallen 4-0 away at Sunderland, Liverpool 8 points behind the Londoners in 6th.

23 July – EVERTON LADIES 0 LIVERPOOL LADIES 2
[Continental Cup]


Natasha Dowie scored her 6th and 7th goals against her former club to get Liverpool’s Continental Cup campaign off to a winning start.


Staniforth made her first start in the Red shirt, while Satara Murray joined Williams, Schroder, Oshoala and Gibbons on the sidelines.

With the lack of options available in defence the ever-versatile Kate Longhurst partnered Gemma Bonner at the back.

Dowie gave Liverpool the lead in the opening minute, latching onto a back pass and rounding the keeper to tap the ball over the line and capitalised on another mix-up in the Blues defence to volley her 2nd of the game into the back of the net.


26 July – BIRMINGHAM CITY 1 LIVERPOOL LADIES 0
[FAWSL]


The inconsistent form continued with this away defeat to Birmingham City, Liverpool defeated by a first-half Karen Carney penalty.


Liverpool worked hard but were ultimately unable to find a way through the Birmingham defence, at the other end of the pitch Libby Stout produced an excellent save to deny Jo Potter scoring from a free kick.


30 July – DONCASTER BELLES 0 LIVERPOOL LADIES 3
[Continental Cup]

Win one, lose one, win one, lose one… Liverpool were always going to pick up another 3 points in this Continental Cup game and this kick started the Reds best run of form of the year as they went on an unbeaten run of 5 games.

Dowie, of course, opened the scoring as she thrived in a front 3 that also included Longhurst and White. Staniforth doubled the lead sending the ball straight in from the corner and Ashley Hodson came off the bench to round off the scoring.

Staniforth and Hodson both with their first goals for Liverpool.

August


8 August – SUNDERLAND LADIES 2 LIVERPOOL LADIES 2
[FAWSL]


Beth Mead opened the scoring from the penalty spot for the league leaders before Dowie scored the Dowie Goal of the Season to draw the scoreline level.

In the second-half Liverpool took the lead through Rosie White but were unable to hold onto this as Kelly McDougal’s late goal gave Sunderland a share of the points.

15 August – LIVERPOOL LADIES 1 DURHAM WFC 0
[Continental Cup]


Dowie and White were initially rested for this Cup game however Durham proved a tough nut to crack and the duo were called from the bench in the second-half.

Liverpool had dominated the games chances and possession – Staniforth going closest, rattling the post with a fierce free kick.

10 minutes after her introduction Dowie scored her 4th goal of the competition to convert the hard-working Hodson’s cross and White was unlucky not to grab a second, denied only by the crossbar.

Late in the game Satara Murray made her return from injury.

22 August – LIVERPOOL LADIES 2 BRISTOL ACADEMY 0
[FAWSL]


Bottom of the table Bristol Academy were downed by 2 goals from the in-form Dowie.

A cagey opening from both sides had seen Bonner called into action, heading away a set piece, and an excellent block by Easton denying Jade Boho-Sayo.

Staniforth then had a free kick punched away from the bottom corner and White’s through ball towards Dowie was intercepted.

But it would be Liverpool who found the breakthrough, Staniforth’s looping ball over the defence met by Hodson, her strike batted away but Dowie making no mistakes with the rebound to put the Reds ahead.

Dowie then scored her second, a near-match for the goal against Durham: Hodon > Dowie > Goal. The no.9 was substituted shortly after to a great reception, the change no doubt with the crucial cup game against Sunderland days later in mind. 

26 August – LIVERPOOL LADIES 2 SUNDERLAND LADIES 0
[Continental Cup]


Liverpool sealed their place in the Continental Cup quarter-finals with a game to spare as they beat Sunderland 2-nil in Widnes 4 days after beating Bristol by the same scoreline.

A mention here also for Liverpool’s defence, who recorded their 3rd consecutive clean sheet and 4th consecutive in this competition.

Talking of consecutive, Dowie also scored in her 5th consecutive game and her 4th consecutive of this competition. 

The no.9 scored and then assisted Katrin Omarsdottir to send Liverpool into the quarters.

30 August – MANCHESTER CITY 2 LIVERPOOL LADIES 0
[Continental Cup]


The Reds were in form, alas fell to a defeat in a cup game that was essentially meaningless but disappointing to halt the run of good results. 

There were five changes to the Liverpool side that beat Sunderland days earlier, as Matt Beard chose to rest several players.

Toni Duggan scored from the spot and the impressive Isabel Christianson added a second.

Liverpool also suffered once more on the injury front, Becky Easton suffering a broken arm after a challenge from Duggan and, like Williams, unable to play any further part in 2015.


September

5 September – LIVERPOOL LADIES 0 ARSENAL LADIES 2
[FAWSL]


Arsenal came into this game looking to pile the pressure onto leaders Chelsea, the Gunners missed a first half penalty but struck twice in the second-half with Dominique Jannsen and Jordan Nobbs.

For Liverpool Katie Zelem had impressed, well positioned to defend 2 Arsenal corner and influential as the Reds pushed forward.

10 September – MANCHESTER CITY 2 LIVERPOOL LADIES 0
[FAWSL]


Manchester City picked up their 11th win in 12 games as goals from Izzy Christianson and Natasha Harding also kept them in the title race.


13 September – BRISTOL ACADEMY 1 LIVERPOOL LADIES 4
[Continental Cup]


Dowie. Dowie. Dowie. Dowie.

After a run of 3 straight defeats watching Liverpool put 4 past Bristol Academy in this Continental Cup quarter-final was a much needed respite.

Dowie had scored 4 goals in this competition so far and doubled that here on the afternoon.

The first came from the penalty spot after White drew a foul in the box but the sides went in at the break level after Bristol pulled a goal back.

The Reds went back ahead as Dowie converted Ingrid Ryland’s cross and scored her 3rd as White set her through the Bristol defence. The killer goal came as Line Smorsgard won possession deep in the opposition half and another well-taken goal from Dowie sealed Liverpool’s place in the semi-finals.

MATT BEARD TO LEAVE LIVERPOOL AT THE END OF THE SEASON


On 22 September Liverpool confirmed that at the end of the season manager Matt Beard would be stepping down from his position and heading stateside to NWSL club Boston Breakers.

Read the full story on Matt’s Liverpool career here, as the boss guided the club to the first silverware in their history with back-to-back WSL titles and oversaw their Champions League campaign.


27 September – LIVERPOOL LADIES 0 CHELSEA LADIES 4
[FAWSL]


Days after the confirmation that Beard would be stepping down as manager at the end of the season his former side Chelsea strengthened their hold on the league title with a 4-0 win over the Reds.

Ji So-Yun scored twice while Eni Aluko and Fran Kirby were also on the score sheet.

Libby Stout was clattered during the games closing stages, and would miss the next 3 games.



Elsewhere this month Kate Longhurst made an exceptional bid to be considered for the next Liverpool F.C. catalogue with these pictures posted on Twitter, unfortunately it wasn’t to be this time – the next catalogue will feature Gemma Bonner and Shannon Beckwith.


October


4 October – BRISTOL ACADEMY 4 LIVERPOOL LADIES 2
[FAWSL]



In the two years previous Liverpool had beaten Bristol on the final day of the league season to lift the league title, this time round it would be very different with Liverpool in 7th and Bristol already relegated in 8th.

Danielle Gibbons made her first appearance since recovering from brain surgery.

An own goal from Bristol after a Rosie White cross had initially equalised for the Reds however, determined to go down with a win, Bristol re-extended their lead to 4-1.

Natasha Dowie added a late consolation.

7 October – BRESCIA CF 1 LIVERPOOL LADIES 0
[Champions League]

A first half goal proved to be the decider in Liverpool’s Champions League first leg away at Brescia.

Oshoala made a bright substitute appearance in the second-half, almost teeing up Dowie but the flag was up for offside.

11 October – LIVERPOOL LADIES 0 NOTTS COUNTY 2
[Continental Cup]

8 first team players missing through injury: Bonner, Longhurst, Harris, Easton, Schroder, Oshoala, Stout, Smorsgard – Fara Williams making her first appearance since July as a substitute.

With Bonner out, Beckwith was handed her first start partnering Murray – the pair performing admirably despite the result.

Liverpool were beaten by 2 Ellen White goals in the first half as they exited the Continental Cup at the semi-final stage for the second time in 3 years.

14 October – LIVERPOOL LADIES 0 BRESCIA CF 1
[Champions League]


Oshoala and Stout returned but Liverpool were ultimately unable to overturn the result from the first leg and conceded an away goal after Brescia were quick to pounce on a loose ball against the run of play.

Liverpool had a definite penalty waved away by the referee – Katie Zelem’s strike pushed away by the hand of the defender – and a perfectly legal goal from Oshoala disallowed for offside.


Following eliminating Liverpool from the Champions League, Brescia’s players threatened strike action against the Italian FA before the strike was called off. Read the full story here.


At the end of the month Liverpool revealed that Scott Rogers would be the new first-team manager, Rogers stepping up after working as assistant manager for Matt Beard since 2012.

The new boss told Sky Sports of his wish to bounce back from the disappointment of this season, saying that he wants “to play a slightly different way to the way Matt did. I’ve taken his good points, put them together with my good points and I hope that will be a very good combination.

“The players know my expectations, my standards are very, very high and I think they are more than capable of achieving them.”

November



Anfield hosted the 2015 Official Liverpool Ladies awards night in early November, the majority of the first team squad were in attendance as Natasha Dowie took home the Standard Chartered Supporters Player of the Year and Goal of the Season awards, Martha Harris picked up Players’ Player, Becky Easton awarded Vitality Player of the Season and Danielle Gibbons recognised with a Special Achievement award.

Awards photo gallery.

In the middle of the month the news broke that Liverpool no.1 Libby Stout would be leaving the club to join Matt Beard at Boston Breakers, Matt has also been joined there by former Red Whitney Engen.

Days later Liverpool released a statement announcing that two-time title winning duo Becky Easton and Katrin Omarsdottir along with Ingrid Ryland and Line Smorsgard had been released.

Read full articles on each players Liverpool careers here:

Becky Easton
Katrin Omarsdottir
Ingrid Ryland & Line Smorsgard

Saddened by the numerous departures Liverpool fans were soon uplifted by the new that 7 first team players had signed contract extensions with the club, each of Danielle Gibbons, Kate Longhurst, Ashley Hodson, Katie Zelem, Martha Harris, Rosie White and Gemma Bonner committing their future to the Reds.

December


Development Squad manager Vicky Jepson received the award for FA Female Development Coach of the Year for 2015, read the full article on the official LFC ladies website here.

Scott Rogers began to rebuild his Liverpool side in December, welcoming a trio of new signings: England international and former Arsenal, Notts County and Bristol Academy goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain arriving to contest Danielle Gibbons for the starting goalkeeper spot. Chamberlain made her World Cup debut in Canada this summer, a substitute appearance in the quarter-finals after no.1 Karen Bardsley suffered an allergic reaction and will no doubt be hoping to feature regularly for the Reds to also contest for the starting England spot.

Laura Coombs also arrived from Chelsea Ladies, the highly-rated midfielder arriving on a season-long loan after Chelsea signed Birmingham skipper Karen Carney. Coombs has previously played for Arsenal and is a regular for England youth teams, an exciting arrival for Liverpool supporters.

The first signing to be announced and not one to be underestimated was Wales captain Sophie Ingle, who arrives from Bristol Academy. Ingle played alongside Gemma Bonner and Kate Longhurst at Chelsea and can play in defence or midfield, a solid acquisition to the squad.

On Wednesday 30 December Fara Williams was named on the New Years Honours list as Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), the most capped England player of all-time recognised for her efforts during the World Cup and rounding off a hugely successful year. 


Player of the Year


Your votes crowned Liverpool Ladies captain fantastic Gemma Bonner as @LFCladiesfans Player of the Year 2015.

Bonner has been a consistent performer alongside a host of centre-back partners over the last 3 seasons since joining from Chelsea Ladies in 2012 and this season has been a shining example to the younger players coming through. From the stands you can hear her organising her team, her tackles are strong but fair, she never loses possession and constantly looks composed and in control. 

On The Anfield Wrap’s final Champions show of the season Bonner was also a unanimous choice, John Gibbons saying that “out of all the injuries she was the biggest loss, I think it would have been different in the 3 cup games had she been around. Whenever I watched her she looked fantastic.” 

Gareth Roberts continued “[Bonner is a] proper warrior at the back, puts in some superb tackles and has been a big miss.” While Neil Atkinson commended the captain for her “sheer class on the ball, when she strides out of defence she very much strides out like a central midfielder in the way she can just ease herself past 2 and be able to pick a good pass as well after she’s just won the tackle to come away. I think she’s been absolutely fantastic to watch in that regard.”

Right-back Martha Harris came in second, with supporters noting the young defenders determinedness best personified by the way she played on in the away Champions League leg through the pain barrier before taking her boot off at full-time and requiring stitches to a nasty cut received during the first-half. Harris missed the semi-final against Notts that weekend but returned for the second leg the following Wednesday where, once again, she was one of the best players on the pitch.

Coming tied in 3rd place are Kate Longhurst and Natasha Dowie. Longhurst’s versatility making her an important part of the team wrecked by injury as the no.7 played centre midfield, winger, forward and centre back over the course of the campaign before she too succumbed to the injury curse and proved a big miss during the Champions League games and the league run-in. 

Dowie finished the season as Liverpool’s top scorer and as captain with Bonner unavailable due to injury, leading the young side from the front. The no.9’s goals were a bright spark as the striker ran wild in the Continental Cup – putting an impressive 4 past Bristol in the quarter-finals. But Dowie provides much more for the side other than goals herself, as her layoff to Fara Williams against Arsenal showed; consistently working hard up front.

Young Player of the Year



Mayumi Pacheco became Liverpool Ladies youngest ever player when she made a substitute appearance in the opening league game against Sunderland, aged just 16 at the time Maz would go on to feature in many more games over the course of the season.

With regular left-back Corina Schroder missing most of the season through injury, Pacheco proved herself to be a more than reliable back-up and her performances grew in stature as the year grew on. 

Still only 17-years old and recently receiving a call-up for England’s U19s after representing her country at both U16 and U17 level, Pacheco was the runaway winner in votes for Young Player of the Season and will undoubtedly be a big player for club and country. 

Read a great interview with the defender here (where she reveals Liverpool actually turned her down after trials at the age of 12!). Maz eventually got into the U15s before winning The FA Youth Cup with the U17s and the league with the Development Squad and made her first team debut in March.

Ashley Hodson also made her mark on the first team following her return from knee surgery while Katie Zelem continues to impress, both will be crucial as Liverpool go into 2016.

Development & U17s Player of the Year




Development striker Kirsty joined Liverpool from Manchester United’s Centre of Excellence earlier this year, making her debut as a substitute in the away defeat at Manchester City – almost pulling a goal back with her first touch seconds after taking to the field.

Kirsty scored on her first full start, during the 7-0 demolition of Durham in May, and has 5 goals in 6 games since October. The forward is also a regular for Scotland’s youth sides, recently marking her U19s debut with a goal.

Perhaps an indication of how highly regarded she is at the club, Kirsty was named in Liverpool’s recent Champions League squad and makes quite the commitment travelling from Yorkshire for training twice a week and of course match days.


U17s captain Niamh has risen through the ranks at Liverpool – winning Players’ Player of the Year while with the U15s in 2014 – and regularly features for England U17s; in the middle of December travelling to Germany with the team, beating France while there by an impressive 4 goals to nil. 

Niamh took over the captaincy for the Reds U17s after Summer made the step up to development level and has overseen a hugely successful campaign so far – Liverpool sit top of the league, 5 points clear with a game in hand over nearest rivals Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers.

This season so far the no.7 has averaged a goal a game, with 7 in 7 appearances and including a well-taken penalty in the final game before the mid-season break.


Goal of the Year

FARA WILLIAMS, MBE v Arsenal Ladies 

A superb strike that has criminally been missed off the league’s official Goal of the Season short list, this goal is Williams at her best; charging forward from a deep midfield position, receiving the ball from Natasha Dowie and expertly guiding the ball past Emma Byrne in the Arsenal goal.



Highlight of the Season

Natasha Dowie’s goals, Lucy Staniforth’s return after 2 years out, Kate Longhurst’s impromptu photoshoot, Fara Williams bossing it at the World Cup in Canada, Maz Pacheco becoming Liverpool’s youngest ever player and the entire game against Arsenal have all been notable highlights from 2015.

However some things are greater and bigger than football and therefore Danielle Gibbons’ return to the first team at the tail end of the season after recovering from brain surgery during the summer to remove a benign tumour has been the highlight of the year. Before her return to the side Gibbons gave an interview to LFC magazine, telling them that she had lost hearing on one side and therefore has had to rebuild her balance.

The keeper is the Reds longest serving player and it was inspiring to see her take back to the pitch in a Liverpool shirt.

Danielle has also said she wants to raise awareness and support others who are diagnosed with acoustic neuromas. For more information or to support the British Acoustic Neuroma Association’s fundraising efforts, visit the BANA website here.


The Anfield Wrap: Champions

THE ANFIELD WRAP: CHAMPIONS is a show available to subscribers of TAW Player, it is the first club-specific women’s football podcast. You can sign up and listen back to each of the podcasts from this season using the links below.


2 April 2015 (free) – NEIL ATKINSON and Heather Carroll are joined firstly by LFC Ladies goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons and then by Gareth Roberts to discuss Liverpool Ladies 2-1 win against Birmingham City Ladies on Wednesday. LISTEN HERE

30 April 2015 – NEIL ATKINSON is joined by the Liverpool Echo’s Andy Kelly and TAW Liverpool Ladies correspondent Heather Carroll to talk about the Ladies’ games against Chelsea and specifically Manchester City. LISTEN HERE

29 July 2015 – NEIL ATKINSON is joined by Heather Carroll and Gareth Roberts to discuss the World Cup, the last four games for Liverpool Ladies and getting clarification on how the FA WSL Continental Tyres competition works. LISTEN HERE.

21 August 2015 – NEIL ATKINSON and Heather Carroll are joined by John Gibbons and The Echo’s Andy Kelly to discuss Liverpool Ladies progress over the last few weeks and especially their 1-0 victory over Durham. LISTEN HERE.

31 August 2015 – IT might as well be renamed the Natasha Dowie show this week. She has been in excellent form and is discussed at length by Neil Atkinson, Heather Carroll, John Gibbons and Gareth Roberts along with Liverpool’s progression in the Continental Tyres Cup, the Champions League draw against Brescia and the victory against Bristol Academy. LISTEN HERE.

20 September 2015 – NEIL ATKINSON is joined by John Gibbons and Heather Carroll to talk about two league defeats and a cup win, plus four goals in a game for Natasha Dowie.
Semi finals here we come. Might still be Champions yet. LISTEN HERE.

16 October 2015 – FIVE LFC Ladies games to cover and all of them, sadly, defeats. Neil Atkinson is joined by Heather Carroll, Gareth Roberts and John Gibbons to wade through how a promising season petered out for The Reds. They also analyse what might be next for the LFC Ladies, and how the team can push forward in seasons to come. And they say tara to outgoing, double league title winning, manager Matt Beard. LISTEN HERE.


 

THANK YOU to everyone who has followed LFCladiesfans throughout this season, this has been the 3rd year of covering Liverpool Ladies on this blog and I’m excited to head into the 4th! There may be some changes to the blog next year, I’m hoping to extend coverage of ex-players so keep an eye out for any announcements to do with that on twitter. 

Heather



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