REPORT: Liverpool Ladies 0 Manchester City Women 0

Liverpool Ladies produced a defensively sound display on Wednesday evening, holding top-of-the-league Manchester City Women to a goalless draw in Widnes.

After 3 straight defeats Liverpool had returned to winning ways in style last week, defeating Sunderland Ladies 4-0 after from home.

Manchester City however posed a different obstacle – unbeaten in 6 previous league games, with 6 straight wins, and yet to concede a goal.

There were no changes to the back line that had kept the clean sheet in the North East, Siobhan Chamberlain behind a back four of Satara Murray, Gemma Bonner, Sophie Ingle and Alex Greenwood.

Kate Longhurst partnered Laura Coombs in the middle, with Shanice Van De Sanden returning to the starting 11 in place of Emma Lundh alongside Tash Harding, Rosie White and Caroline Weir in attack.

A cagey start to the match ensued, Weir’s strike after closing in on goal the first real chance for either side. Longhurst excelled throughout the 90 minutes with her drive and determination and here had found Weir who, with both centre halves chasing, watched as her shot was saved by England keeper Karen Bardsley.

Both sides grew into game, City’s winter signing Kosovare Asllani nipping past a couple of red shirts, poised to take a shot however a strong challenge by Bonner stopped the Swedish international in her tracks.

Van De Sanden was getting herself amongst the opposition defence, showcasing her frightening pace as she switched wings with the equally hard-working Harding; the Welsh winger tapping a short ball to Weir, who turned and attempted to pick out the run of Van De Sanden yet the City defence read the move well to clear.

Earlier in the season the Reds had shown great fight in their 1-0 win over Birmingham City and the same backs-against-the-wall defending was once more on show here in both halves.

A first half Steph Houghton free kick ricocheting it’s way in and around the box and each of Coombs, Ingle and Bonner blocking attempts from blue shirts before a foul was given on Bonner.

Murray also continued her impressive return to the side from injury, effectively marking Toni Duggan – in the opening minute intercepting a through ball from the England forward before it could meet its intended target.

The full back also, quite casually, took the ball from Asllani shortly into the second half. A dangerous ball landing at the feet of the Swede inside the box and Murray taking the ball, then fouled by Asllani in frustration in an effort to win the ball back.

It was Liverpool who started the second half the brighter of the two sides, working down either wing with first White and Van De Sanden combining and looking for Harding and Weir. The latter making runs into the 18-yard box but the final ball intercepted by the City defence.

Then Greenwood won possession high up the pitch to square the ball wide for Harding, the winger making her second appearance against her former club and blocked by ex-Red Lucy Bronze from getting a cross into the box.

It didn’t take long for City to find their groove; Ingle calm under pressure inside the area to turn and carry the ball away, clearing as far as Jane Ross who could only fire wide.

Chamberlain then twice denied Bronze, a clever move seeing Duggan tee the full back up, her low drive finding it’s way past the defence and Chamberlain quick to stop it crossing the line. Then an effort reminiscent of Bronze’s winning goal for England against Norway in the World Cup looked destined for the top corner only for an impressive save from the Reds no.1 to keep her out.

With 60 minutes played, Liverpool’s defence continued to thrive against the relentless City attack.

Jill Scott looking for Duggan but Greenwood there, Ingle heading away a ball sent over the top – Bronze chasing back in and Harding getting between her and the ball to shield out for a goal kick.

City kept coming back however, Coombs getting in the middle of a passing move that had seen Dugan cut the ball back to Scott who tried to send it forward once more to Christianson.

Liverpool weren’t without chances of their own and found themselves dominating in short periods, a Bonner free kick resulting in a corner. This falling to Coombs outside the area who squared back wide to Greenwood, her left footed strike collecting by Bardsley.

Then a counter from the Reds had Van De Sanden, Harding and Weir all closing in on the City goal yet Bardsley got herself on the end of the final ball.

The best Liverpool chance came with 12 minutes left on the clock, another Greenwood set piece dropping in the centre of the box but White’s header somehow flew inches over the crossbar.

6 minutes of injury time had been added at the end of the second half and still City continued to pepper the Reds defence, Bonner and Coombs combining to clear from one push forward and Ingle with a sublime block, reading the game well to come out from the back and stopping substitute Georgia Stanway from sending a cross towards goal.

The final kick of the game came as Bronze fired over the crossbar, Liverpool providing a masterclass in defence to deny City a seventh straight win and heading into the mid-season break with 8 points chalked onto the table.

Liverpool Ladies: Chamberlain, Murray, Bonner (C), Ingle, Greenwood, Coombs, Longhurst, White, Van De Sanden (Hodson), Weir (Lundh), Harding (Charles)

Player of the Match: Gemma Bonner


After 3 consecutive league defeats Liverpool Ladies returned to winning ways in style with a comprehensive and hard working 4-0 victory away at Sunderland Ladies.
The Reds had put three past reigning champions Chelsea in their last outing, yet had conceded six.
There were several changes made to that side, keeping the formation at 4-3-3, Satara Murray making her return from injury and her first appearance of the campaign on the right side of a back four of Gemma Bonner, Sophie Ingle and Alex Greenwood – Siobhan Chamberlain in goal.
Ahead of them Laura Coombs returned to the started 11 alongside Kate Longhurst and Rosie White in the middle, while Emma Lundh made her first start since the previous Sunderland tie 3 weeks earlier to join Tash Harding and Caroline Weir in attack.
This is a Sunderland side not to be underestimated, displayed best when they came back from 2-0 down to take a share of the points in Widnes last month.
As in that game the Black Cats created the first clear cut chance of the game as Keira Ramshaw burst into the Liverpool box, only to see her drive pushed around the post by Chamberlain.
From the resulting corner Murray, then Ingle got the ball away kick starting a move that led to the opening goal.
The Reds attacking in numbers, quick out their own half with White charging down the middle and unleashing a strike from the edge of the box and flashed across the face of goal and into the back of the net after crashing off the far post.
Good defending followed from Liverpool to keep their hosts from netting an equaliser. Murray particularly strong, shielding the ball into the path of Bonner for the skipper to clear and then holding off Stephanie Roche with ease to turn and carry the ball out of defence.
Brooke Chaplen had scored a brace in the 2-2 draw, yet was kept at bay here – closed down by Bonner and Ingle in the box to send a shot wide of the post.
Ex-Liverpool midfielder Lucy Staniforth was also twice denied by Chamberlain from set pieces, the number 1 punching the first wide before impressively stopping a deceiving effort from Staniforth in stoppage time – the ball having swerved in low towards the near post.
Before that second effort however Liverpool had managed to wriggle themselves out of trouble for the time being and create chances of their own, Longhurst turning well on the halfway line to set Lundh down the right but her cross was met by another ex-Red in goalkeeper Rachael Laws.
Down the other wing Harding was wreaking havoc, one run seen the Welsh winger cut in along the byline and brought down in the box by Sunderland captain Steph Bannon.
Greenwood stepped up to take the spot kick, firing the ball past Laws despite the keeper diving the right way to double the Liverpool lead shortly before half-time.
Into added time at the end of the half the aforementioned Staniforth free kick troubled the Reds, Chamberlain’s save resulting in a corner which was cleared off the line by Greenwood; the left-back scoring then preventing a goal.
A muted opening to the second half followed, the Reds perhaps wary of their hosts and the comeback still fresh in the memory.
In the opening exchanges it was again Sunderland who threatened, Murray rising above everyone to head away a header and Chamberlain sharp to get down and block the rebound.
Chamberlain also denied Staniforth once more; a dipping effort struck finely but tipped over the crossbar.
Due to the solid defensive display the Reds visibly grew in confidence as the half drew on, Coombs impressive with her box-to-box performance, nipping at the heels of the Sunderland players – at one point winning the ball 30 yards from goal with a  sliding interception, getting back to her feet to shoot just wide.
Harding and Lundh on each wing were also working tirelessly, the two switching play and holding the ball up well.
On the left Harding and Greenwood linked well, the connection growing stronger over the course of the game with Greenwood overlapping a number of times on a couple of exciting moves forward.
Harding was Liverpool’s primary threat on the night and while countering from a Sunderland corner down the right wing, hit a cross that swung fiercely into the area with Weir arriving at the back post, giving Bannon no choice but to attempt to clear only to see the ball fly past her own keeper.
Liverpool were 3-0 up, arguably at the point it looked more likely to be Sunderland getting a goal back.
Reds manager Scott Rogers made a trio of changes during the second half as Katie Zelem, Shanice Van De Sanden and Ashley Hodson came on for White, Weir and Murray.
A smart move as Van De Sanden immediately got amongst the defence and was unlucky not to convert a chance created by Lundh, the Swede working her way into the box from wide and playing a low ball to Van De Sanden who was quickly closed down.
There was time for one more goal, Van De Sanden teeing up fellow substitute Zelem who scored her 4th goal in 3 games.
Liverpool Ladies: Chamberlain, Murray (Hodson), Bonner ©, Ingle, Greenwood, Longhurst, Coombs, White (Zelem), Lundh, Weir (Van De Sanden), Harding

Player of the Match: Natasha Harding


Katie Zelem’s opening goal within the first minute gave Liverpool the best possible start away at Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.
The reigning champions then showing their ruthless streak; Karen Carney’s equaliser followed by goals from Fran Kirby, Drew Spence and Eni Aluko ensuring the Blues went in 4-1 up at half-time.
Liverpool almost turned it around in the second half. Caroline Weir converting a free kick and substitute Emma Lundh further reducing the deficit yet Kirby and Spence both netted their second of the game for the tie to finish 6-3 to Chelsea.
The score line equalling the all-time WSL record for most goals scored in a single game, matching Liverpool’s 9-0 victory over Doncaster in 2013.
Laura Coombs was once again unavailable to play against parent club Chelsea, Kate Longhurst replacing her in the line-up and playing on the right of a back four consisting of the returning Alex Greenwood at left-back, centre back duo Gemma Bonner and Mandy Van Den Berg and Siobhan Chamberlain in goal.
Coombs was the only change to the side defeated at Notts County last week, Natasha Harding back playing in the more familiar position of left wing, Shanice Van De Sanden on the right and Sophie Ingle, Katie Zelem, Caroline Weir and Rosie White completing the side.
Zelem had scored twice in the final 10 minutes of the previous league game and picked up where she left off here, a wonderful move from Liverpool seeing them move the ball quickly up the pitch, setting the pace for what would come to be a high tempo game.
Starting with Van Den Berg at the back and ending with Harding teeing up Zelem to let fly, the long range hit giving Chelsea goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl no chance and putting Liverpool in the lead after just 57 seconds.
A bright start from Liverpool was followed by a tough 44 minutes, from the restart coming under heavy pressure and at first withstanding the full throttle Chelsea attack.
Kirby breaking into the area only to be challenged by Van Den Berg and the resulting set piece headed away by Longhurst.
The England international then chased a long ball over the top only to be thwarted by Chamberlain coming out off her line to send it into the stand.
Chelsea went back in again, and again Liverpool cleared. The ball skimming the 6-yard box dangerously close to goal, headed back across by Carney to fall at the feet at Bonner who got it away.
The defence eventually buckled, the Reds holding their lead for 8 minutes before Kirby put Carney through to round Chamberlain and slot the ball over the line.
Liverpool had chances to retake the lead. A charging run by Harding down the left wing winning a corner which fell to Ingle, her volley closed down and blocked.
Then another fast move seen several Reds shirts racing forward; Van De Sanden, White and Weir moving the ball across the pitch with ease and Weir was unlucky to watch as her superb strike was tipped over the crossbar.
Chelsea’s counter attacking football was causing the Reds trouble at the other end of the pitch and Chamberlain was thrice called upon.
The goalkeeper gathering efforts from Ji So-Yun and Carney, and also wise to a clever pass to prevent Aluko finding the run of Katie Chapman.
The game was end-to-end and Liverpool themselves almost created a chance from a counter attack. Bonner heading to Longhurst, out to Weir, onto Van De Sanden but Harding – who had gotten herself into a good position in the box – was closed down and couldn’t connect with the final ball.
Shortly after this Chelsea went ahead, Kirby’s completing a solo move after dribbling past several Red shirts to score her first goal of the afternoon.
Thereafter until the end of the first half it continued to be the Blues who looked the more threatening of the two sides and they would add 2 more goals before the break.
Kirby again the provider this time for Drew Spence to score after making a run from deep, and Aluko latching onto Carney’s through ball to make it 4.
Out for the second half, the pace of the game was maintained despite the intense heat.
Impressive Chelsea left-back Hannah Blundell finding Carney with a good delivery but she directed her header over the bar.
10 minutes in and Scott Rogers made a double substitution, Emma Lundh and Maz Pacheco coming on for Harding and Greenwood. The duo taking to the pitch as Liverpool were setting up to take a free kick won by Van De Sanden.
Weir struck the set piece sweetly with her left foot, the ball worming its way through the mass of bodies in the box to end up in the back of the net.
A minute later Lundh further reduced the deficit, Liverpool this time capitalising on Chelsea’s failure to clear their lines and the no.9 smashing the ball past Lindahl to make it 4-3 – her first league goal for the club.
The Reds now had hope, back in the game and in search of an equaliser with over half an hour still to play. Credit must be given to the side for getting themselves back in this position, with many having written them off after the first half.
Van De Sanden and Weir the stand outs, the latter at one stage displaying excellent close control to get the ball up the line to the overlapping Pacheco. Pacheco bombed on, her cross snuffed out at the edge of the box.
Another set of quick fire goals would follow, Kirby and Spence both scoring their second to re-extend the Chelsea lead.
Blundell had won the ball high up the pitch, carrying it forward and seeing her cross take a lucky deflection into the path of Kirby to score Chelsea’s 5th. Kirby made it a hat-trick of assists to set Spence up for the final goal.
From here on Liverpool had to be alert to prevent conceding another as the chances continued to flow.
Bonner cutting out a Carney cross intended for Kirby, Chamberlain reacting well to stop Chapman’s header crossing the line as the Blues captain headed Carney’s rebound off the crossbar back towards goal and substitute Ashley Hodson, who had not long replaced White, clearing off the line.
In recent days the Reds have been praised for their never-say-die spirit and this was evident here as Van De Sanden both had shots blocked from successive corners – Longhurst’s ball back in caught by the keeper.
While in injury time another blazing run by Van De Sanden had the Dutch winging finding Lundh, who tried to turn and was quickly closed down by Gilly Flaherty.
Another disappointing afternoon for Liverpool, who can perhaps take heart from the fact they are the first team to put 3 past Chelsea at home in almost 2 years. The side punished by defensive errors, which a team as good as Chelsea will use to their advantage.
LIVERPOOL LADIES: Chamberlain, Longhurst, Bonner ©, Van Den Berg, Greenwood (Pacheco), Ingle, Zelem, White (Hodson), Harding (Lundh), Weir, Van De Sanden
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Shanice Van De Sanden


Katie Zelem’s brace almost sparked a late comeback for Liverpool Ladies away at Notts County earlier today.

County had raced into a 3-0 lead with an Ellen White double and a sublime strike from Jess Clarke. Zelem’s goals gave the Reds hope however the game finished 3-2 to the home side.
There was just one change to the side defeated midweek by Chelsea, Laura Coombs had been unable to feature against her parent club and replaced Kate Longhurst in the midfield to join Katie Zelem and Sophie Ingle.
The front three again was made up of Rosie White, Caroline Weir and Shanice Van De Sanden, while Natasha Harding, Gemma Bonner, Mandy Van Den Berg and Mayumi Pacheco completed the defence – Siobhan Chamberlain in goal.
Liverpool had actually started the game the brighter of the two sides, stroking the ball around and dominating possession in the opening 10 minutes.
The Reds carved out opportunities working down both flanks, Coombs and Harding exchanging passes on the right for Coombs to find White at the edge of the box. White’s volley went inches over the crossbar.
On the left Van Den Berg played a diagonal ball into the area which was flicked on by Zelem and met by a stretching Van De Sanden, she could only tap the ball the wrong side of the post.
The game then began to turn in favour of the hosts, Liverpool unable to capitalise on their early pressure and Chamberlain sharp to be quick off her line, collecting a long ball sent over the top in search of Ellen White.
A strong header from Pacheco then stopped Jess Clarke’s cross from hitting its target.
Notts took the lead in the 12th minute when Rachel Yankey, on loan from Arsenal, squared the ball to E.White the forward making no mistakes yards out from goal.
The Reds found themselves under attack again, Clarke sending a probing ball towards E.White and Bonner seeing this out for a goal kick.
Both Clarke and Angharad James also seen efforts fly over the bar as they looked to double the lead.
Coombs was an integral part of Liverpool’s midfield over the course of the game, an excellent turn and pass set Harding down the wing to again combine with Van De Sanden – the final ball into the arms of Carly Telford.
Telford was then on hand to catch Zelem’s dangerous ball into the box that had both Weir and White on alert.
Before the Reds could get back in the game however, Notts had a second; a sublime left-footed hit from Jess Clarke curling its way past Chamberlain and into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
With half-time looming both keepers made important saves, Chamberlain diving low to her right to deny Leanne Crichton and Telford wise to Coombs’ strike following a deceiving cross by Harding.
Out for the second half Liverpool again looked to get a foothold in the game, a crunching challenge from Harding on her Wales team mate James winning the ball back. Harding was getting up and down the wing well, with most of Liverpool’s movement down the right side of the pitch.
Liverpool were handed a lifeline when Van De Sanden was brought down in the box, Weir stepping up however sending the spot kick wide.
Shortly after the missed penalty it was 3-0 to Notts, winning the ball deep in their own half and E.White pouncing to score her second on a quick counter attack.
A double substitution followed for Liverpool as Alex Greenwood returned from injury replacing Pacheco to face her former club and Emma Lundh on for R.White.
Into the final 10 minutes of the games, the Reds sparked into life.
Lundh this time fouled in the area and Zelem sending Telford the wrong way to convert from the spot, pulling a goal back.
Then another substitution made a difference, Longhurst had come on for Weir and gone to right-back with Harding moving further up and the two created plenty of space on the right.
Longhurst threaded a through ball to Zelem and the midfielder finishing well from a tight angle to give Liverpool hope.
Liverpool haven’t taken a point from Notts since Zelem scored the winning goal in a 1-0 win as the Reds were on their way to winning a second successive league title in 2014.
This would continue here despite Zelem almost completing a hat trick, meeting a Van De Sanden cross in the middle but Telford in the way this time and the Reds unable to find an equaliser, the game finishing 3-2 to Notts County.
Liverpool Ladies: Chamberlain, Harding, Bonner (C), Van Den Berg, Pacheco (Greenwood), Zelem, Ingle, Coombs, Weir (Longhurst), White (Lundh), Van De Sanden
Player of the match: Laura Coombs