It was a frustrating afternoon all round for Liverpool Ladies as their eight game unbeaten Women’s Super League run came to an end away at Birmingham City.

The Reds had gone behind shortly into the second half when former defender Corina Schroder scored a goal on her debut. Katie Zelem then levelled the score from the penalty spot before Kerys Harrop headed past Siobhan Chamberlain to seal the Birmingham win.

Liverpool were forced into a late line up change as Mandy van den Berg took a knock during the warm up and was replaced by Martha Harris, the full back making her first appearance since late April following injury.

Harris was joined in defence by an otherwise unchanged back line of Satara Murray, Gemma Bonner and Sophie Ingle with Chamberlain in goal.

Ahead of them Zelem, Laura Coombs and Rosie White made up the midfield while Caroline Weir, Emma Lundh and Shanice van de Sanden led the attack.

The game was a scrappy affair, Birmingham always a tough side to play against with their direct style and Liverpool found it tough to break the Blues down.

Clear cut chances were few and far between during the first half, Birmingham with a series of corners that were well defended by Liverpool and England youth international Chloe Peplow seeing a

When the Reds found space to play around Birmingham, the fast counter attacking football that we’ve grown accustomed to over the course of the season was on display; Murray slipping a ball through to the chasing van de Sanden yet Blues goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley was quick off her mark to stop the attack.

Then, following a corner, Zelem prodded the ball to Weir who in turn looked up to pick out van de Sanden, the winger clipping a placed pass towards Lundh and the number 9 meeting the ball in the middle but Baggaley again was off her line to block the shot.

Liverpool enjoyed a brief period on top and looked certain to break the deadlock midway through the half, Murray showing excellent desire chasing what had looked to be hopeless loose ball yet winning the Reds a throw near the corner flag; White linking up with Murray from the throw in but unable to find Coombs with her cross.

After that White had a low drive deflected an inch wide of the post, Coombs swinging the resulting corner into the middle of the 6-yard box and Baggaley stretching to tip the set piece onto the crossbar.

The game lulled slightly before once more sparking into life before half time, Coombs unleashing an effort from distance that was punched away by Baggaley and Kirsty Linnett spurned a golden opportunity for Birmingham at the far post following a Freda Ayisi cross.

In the early stages of the second half the Reds defence came under pressure, a series of neat passes amongst the back four calmly getting rid of the danger.

However it soon returned in the form of Schroder, the German was making her Birmingham debut after a long injury lay off and poked a pass from Linnett over the line with her left foot to put the Blues 1-0 ahead.

The lead was short lived as Tash Harding came from the bench to replace Lundh and was immediately running at the Birmingham defence, beating two players to cut inside and get the ball to White – the New Zealander brought down inside the box to earn a penalty which Zelem confidently stepped up to take and scored.

Unfortunately for Liverpool this reprieve was also temporary as Birmingham retook the lead shortly afterwards, Kerys Harrop rising to nod Jess Carter’s long throw past Chamberlain and into the back of the net.

Liverpool had a couple of more chances to take a share of the points before the 90 minutes was up, Bonner narrowly heading a corner wide and van de Sanden also fizzing a drive wide of the mark.

Still, Birmingham held onto their lead to take all three points and into next week’s Continental Cup final against newly crowned league champions Manchester City on the back of a win.

LIVERPOOL LADIES Chamberlain, Murray, Bonner (C), Ingle, Harris, Coombs, Zelem, White (Longhurst),  van de Sanden, Lundh (Harding), Weir (Hodson)


International Reds – September 2016

It’s been a long three weeks since Liverpool Ladies were last in action, the Reds beat Reading Women on September 1st courtesy of super sub Katie Zelem’s superb 85th minute winning goal.

A number of Reds have been away on international duty during the break between FA Women’s Super League games; Zelem selected for England u20s duty and heading to Los Angeles, Mandy van den Berg and Shanice van de Sanden also crossed the Atlantic for the Netherlands friendly with the United States in Alanta.

Whilst a quartet of Brits have been competing in the final round of Euro 2016 qualifiers – Tash Harding and Sophie Ingle with Wales, Caroline Weir making history with Scotland and Siobhan Chamberlain keeping a familiar clean sheet with England.


Mandy van den Berg led a talented Netherlands side out in Atlanta for the Euro 2017 hosts friendly with the United States.

There were several familiar faces amongst the starting line up with the Arsenal trio of Sari van Veenendaal, Dominque Janssen and Danielle van de Donk and of course Shanice van de Sanden.

It would be van de Sanden that opened the scoring in what was an excellent first half of football – van den Berg’s clearance at the edge of the 18-yard box nodded on into the path of the speedy winger. van de Sanden added Meghan Klingenberg to her list of left backs she’s beaten this year to charge forward and smash the ball past Alyssa Naeher to put the Netherlands ahead.

The US had an equaliser before half time when Liverpool supporter Carli Lloyd found the back of the net and took the lead shortly into the second half in a controversial manner, van den Berg looked to have been fouled by Tobin Heath as she converted Christen Press’ cross past her own goalkeeper but the referee appeared not to have seen this and let the goal stand.

Allie Long rounded off the scoring on the night, making the score 3-1 USA in front of over 15,000 supporters.

England u20

Katie Zelem was selected by Mo Marley to represent England after an impressive season so far with Liverpool, the young midfielder has scored 4 goals so far in 2016 in a red shirt – the latest a wonderful left footed hit against Reading.

England u20s played Brazil, USA and South Korea in the NTC Invitational Tournament, emerging as overall winners with 2 wins and 1 draw.

Zelem started and played the full 90 minutes in each of the wins over Brazil and USA, Aston Villa’s Sarah Mayling struck an 89th minute winner against the Brazilians and England also beat USA by the same scoreline.

Coral Haines of Birmingham netted the winner against the Americans, with Zelem involved in the build up:

With just over 10 minutes remaining, Liverpool midfielder Katie Zelem drove through the middle and saw her long-range shot deflected wide to Sarah Mayling, the match-winner against the South Americans.
The Aston Villa forward put in a low cross from the right-hand side of the box and Haines tapped it home from close range to give the Young Lionesses another three points and an unassailable lead in this round-robin tournament. (source)

England had already wrapped the tournament up before the final game against South Korea, Zelem coming off the bench in the 62nd minute but the young Lionesses were held to a goalless draw.


Siobhan Chamberlain donned the England no.1 shirt for the final home Euro 2017 qualifier at Notts County’s Meadow Lane Stadium against Estonia, although the Reds stopper had little to do over the course of the 90 minutes.

Arsenal’s Danielle Carter marked her second cap with a second hat trick while Jill Scott and Karen Carney also found the back of the net as England cruised to a 5-0 win.

For the following game Chamberlain was amongst the substitutes as England finished their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory in Belgium, Nikita Parris and Carney with the goals.


Caroline Weir and Scotland made history during the international break by qualifying for their first major tournament.

Portugal – a side containing former Red and double title winning midfielder Amanda Da Costa – beat Finland on Friday meaning that the Fins could not finish higher than Scotland and confirming their place at next summer’s Euros in the Netherlands.

This meant that Scotland travelled to Iceland for their final qualifier having already qualified.

Three years earlier Weir had made her international debut in Iceland and in the build up to the game a good article went up on the Scottish FA’s website that is well worth a read here: Weir set to return to where it all started.

Here’s what Weir had to say on her time at Liverpool so far:

“Liverpool is a huge club and I’m delighted to be playing there at the moment,” she said.

“It’s a good set-up and we’re seen as equal to the men so we get to do some stuff with the first team too.

“Liverpool itself is quite a small place so you learn pretty quickly what the club means to the city.

“At the moment we’re sitting fourth in the league with three games to go.

“Our manager brought in some new players so we’ve built over the course of the season. It’ll be interesting to see where we end up.”

Scotland went on to finish their qualifying campaign on a high as Jane Ross struck twice to secure a 2-1 win.


Wales fell short of qualifying for Euro 2017 despite a strong finish to their campaign, a 3-0 over Israel with goal from Helen Ward (2) and Charlie Estcourt on Thursday preceded a good performance against Austria in a 0-0 draw this evening.

Sophie Ingle captained the Welsh side in both games while Tash Harding also started both games alongside her Liverpool team mate.

The two were singled out for praise by commentators during the draw and you can read highlights from the Reds duos performances below:

Full report: Strong performance from Wales as Austria qualify

“There was a moment of controversy on 13 minutes when Austrian goalkeeper Zinsberger handled the ball outside the area when under pressure from Natasha Harding, and Greek referee Eleni Lampadariou punished the offence with a yellow card.

Zinsbereger was tested from the resulting free-kick by Jess Fishlock, but with Wales visibly lifted, it was Harding that came close to opening the scoring after 28 minutes but she failed to find the target from a ball fired across the area with one of the best of the few first-half chances.”

“Despite the lack of goals, there was no shortage of entertainment as both sides went in search of the advantage late in the game, but Wales survived a late scare with captain Sophie Ingle again displaying all her defensive qualities to deny the visitors from leaving with maximum points.”

Full report: Wales dominate their way to victory over Israel

“On 33 minutes the lead was doubled when Helen Ward scored her second of the game after latching onto a ball from Rachel Rowe. Wales continued to dominate, and Nadia Lawrence headed over from a Natasha Harding cross as the opening half came to a close, but it remained 2-0 as Wales took a comfortable advantage into the break.”

“It would prove to be another dominant half from Wales, and on 59 minutes Estcourt extended their lead after some excellent work from Natasha Harding in the Israeli area with a fine finish.

Wales were good value for their lead and should have increased their advantage on 85 minutes when Harding was fouled in the area by Michal Ravitz.

Despite being booked previously, Ravitz escaped further punishment, but Jess Fishlock was denied by Shamir as the goalkeeper guessed the right way to deny Wales a fourth goal.”

Liverpool Ladies return to FAWSL action this Sunday away at Birmingham City in a 2pm kick off at Solihull Moors FC.


Recently I took a break from watching a lot of football in England to watching a lot of football in America, taking in four women’s league games in Boston, New York and Chicago.
Having attended women’s football, or soccer, games in the U.S. before and witnessing first-hand the fanfare surrounding the national team at last summer’s World Cup in Canada, the level of support and interest in the sport is both impressive and enviable.
As a quick example, two of the games I caught were in Boston, to watch as a side coached by former league winning Liverpool manager Matt Beard –and featuring a host of ex-players – was supported by 3,743 and 4,379 fans.
The latter figure being a sell out and made all the more eye-catching because it came at the end of  a 7 match streak wherein the team had failed to pick up a win, and made all the more sweeter as Boston went on to secure a 1-0 victory. This courtesy of a familiar face as Natasha Dowie netted the winner on her debut.
Back at home while I was away Liverpool hosted a crowd of 643 at the Select Stadium in Widnes for a 0-0 draw with Notts County.
Despite the gulf in attendance figures both sides boast passionate supporters who sing throughout and bang drums to create an atmosphere. When Boston scored the fans even set off flares, though I doubt that would go down well in Widnes.
Why is it though, that America can pull in these larger crowds? The average league attendance for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2016 is over 5,000. To compare to the FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL) in England, the average league attendance last year was 1,076.
A couple of months ago on TheAnfield Wrap we recorded a women’s football special alongside Liverpool LadiesDevelopment Squad coach Vicky Jepson that prompted an email from subscriber Barry Beattie, who is currently coaching at high school level in the United States.
In his email Barry highlights just how seriously the game is taken over there, the volume of professional coaching companies and how from a very young age there is a clear pathway.
That pathway leads to high school students securing scholarships to play at the country’s top colleges as the institutions search for the next big star, the next Alex Morgan or Hope Solo.
Indeed while at the games there does seem to be a large amount of families and youth soccer teams, wearing a mix of their own club apparel or that of the team they’re watching and a huge number of U.S.A shirts – and these are generally emblazoned with names of the women’s players.
This is something that is creeping in in the game in England, especially over the last year the focus is on getting local girls teams and schools to the games and now in the stands there are a number of players represented on the back of fan’s replica shirts.
The success of the national team in America must also play a big part with the aforementioned Morgan and Solo being household names. Wearing my United States shirt in a Boston diner resulted in the owner initiating a conversation about the team’s chances in the upcoming Olympics.
The USWNT, as they are called, have won 3 World Cup titles since its inception in 1991 and 4 Olympic gold medals out of 5 (finishing runners up in 2000); up until the Rio Olympics had finished in the medal positions in every tournament entered.
Another interesting point Barry made was that women’s soccer is the main sport for girls in the States, whereas the sport competes against basketball, baseball, American football and lacrosse for boys.
The pathway in England is also becoming more defined; just this last year the Centre of Excellence system has been revamped and has been replaced by the Regional Talent Club programme, Liverpool one of  13 clubs to be awarded Tier 1 status.
Currently at Liverpool there are 80 players enrolled in age groups from under-9s to under-16s, at which stage players are considered for the club’s development squad.
Whereas in America the options for playing full-time after college are limited and the pay poor, the top clubs across England have turned fully professional over the last couple of years. Liverpool pioneered the move back in 2013, allowing players to quit their day jobs to become full time professional footballers.
US goalkeeper Hope Solo slammed conditions the players face in the NWSL in a blog post on her website in July. The number 1, currently on a 6-month ban for calling the Swedish national team cowards after the US were beaten by the Swedes at the Olympics, was writing in the wake of a media storm as Western New York Flash played Seattle in a league fixture on an absurdly narrow pitch.
Her post highlighted that although America leads the way in some aspects, widespread support of the national team, league attendances and live streaming of every league game on YouTube to name a few, overall the professionalism of the league leaves a lot to be desired.
To gain a license to play in the FAWSL clubs must adhere to a strict set of guidelines and the teams that win promotion to the top tier must ensure they can meet these or they remain in the league below.
This hasn’t been without its controversies, shortly after the 2013 season began The FA announced the introduction of a second tier to the WSL and that Doncaster Belles would be demoted with Manchester City Women taking their place.
Manchester City had met the requirements for a WSL1 license whilst Doncaster had not, rightly or wrongly this careful management by The FA has encouraged the steady rise of professionalism and football as a career for those now progressing through the RTCs.
From 2017 the FAWSL will bechanging to a winter league format, aligning it with the rest of the football pyramid and The FA hope the move will bring a new audience – wanting to double attendances, inspire participation and ultimately bolster England’s chances in tournaments.
This change should also improve the scheduling of the league, which has been poor this season. Teams have 16 league games, then at least one in each of The FA and Continental Cup; if a team gets knocked out in the first round of the each Cup, then they’d play just 18 games between March and November.
At present Liverpool Ladies have three games left to play between now and November 6th – including a 4 week gap between the penultimate and final game of the season.
As a supporter of the women’s game in general I hope this move does help to increase the support, and when comparing the two leagues against one another I can’t help but believe each could take something from the other. If the two leagues were to merge, we’d likely have the perfect women’s league in England.

The streaming of live NWSL games, the crowds inside the stadiums and stadiums that are usually the right size for the crowd they draw, matched by the professionalism of the FAWSL and the management of the English league – with promotion and relegation throughout the pyramid pending – could help to further grow the game.


For the second time in as many matches Liverpool Ladies grinded out a 1-0 FA Women’s Super League victory, the Reds now unbeaten in 8 as the league enters its final quarter.
Their hosts Reading Women FC had seen a penalty saved and a strike cleared off the line before substitute Katie Zelem came from the bench, firing an unstoppably ferocious effort past Mary Earps and into the top corner in the 85th minute.
There was just one change to the side that had beaten Doncaster Belles, Rosie White returning to the starting line up in place of Shanice Van De Sanden and Liverpool otherwise unchanged.
It was Reading that started quickest out the blocks targeting the left of Liverpool’s defence, Rebecca Jane steering wide before sending a cross into the box looking for Emma Follis and Jade Boho-Sayo yet Siobhan Chamberlain rose highest to claim.
Jane and Boho-Sayo drifted wide again minutes later to exchange passes, this time Mandy Van Den Berg threw herself in front of Boho-Sayo’s attempted cross. The subsequent throw in led to a shot being deflected narrowly wide and Chamberlain reached the corner first.
Liverpool’s defence has conceded just twice since letting in 6 away at Chelsea back at the start of May and they were forced to be at their best as Reading, without a win yet this campaign, threatened again.
Gemma Bonner deflecting Follis’ strike out for a corner, this headed away by Mandy Van Den Berg at the near post and once more hit goal wards only to again be thwarted by Bonner.
The Reds, wearing the toxic green third strip, played a patient game – one which was praised by Natasha Harding following the win over Doncaster – and grew into the half here.
Rosie White was linking defence to attack brilliantly with Kate Longhurst and Laura Coombs in the middle, White sending a looping ball towards the 18-yards box that reached Harding; Harding flicked this on with her head with Emma Lundh in pursuit but she was beaten to the ball by Earps.
White’s excellent turn midway through the first half during a Liverpool counter attack allowed her to reach Lundh, the Swedish number 9 charged forward however was forced wide and Reading were able to clear their lines.
While Reading started the half strongest, it was Liverpool that ended on top – Earps plunging to stop Harding and at full stretch to tip Coombs’ long range shot onto the crossbar.
Despite plenty of endeavour from both sides half time came with neither finding a breakthrough.
Re-emerging for the second half the game continued at the same speed, Rachel Rowe’s cross prevented from meeting its target by the superb Bonner and Chamberlain first punching away a Boho-Sayo shot, then stopping a Reading set piece regardless of seeing it late.
Caroline Weir ensured Liverpool threatened through a set piece of their own, a great ball from the half way line chased by both Harding and White but Reading managed to scramble the ball away.
Ultimately it was Scott Rogers’ substitutions that turned the game in Liverpool’s favour; Shanice Van De Sanden was introduced in the 61stminute and proved a handful for the thus-far sturdy Reading defence.
The game opened up as Van De Sanden began to carve out opportunites, getting behind the back line and cutting the ball up along the 6-yard box.
Shortly after her introduction a penalty was awarded to Reading, the reasoning unclear but appearing to be given against Chamberlain for bringing down a forward. Unnerved the Reds stopper dived to her right to deny Lauren Bruton from the spot.
Then Harding found Van De Sanden, the ball tapped to the feet of Coombs who could only watch as her strike blazed over the crossbar.
Reading went close again, Melissa Fletcher’s cross bouncing back off the post and along the goal line only for Bonner to somehow knock the ball out for a corner – Chamberlain caught the resulting corner.
It was end-to-end action at Adams Park, Liverpool countering in droves with the strength of Coombs and Longhurst in the midfield key against Bruton and Remi Allen.
Van De Sanden was joined off the bench by Katie Zelem and the two linked immediately, Coombs playing a one-two with Van De Sanden at the edge of the area and sending the ball to Zelem who missed it by inches.
The game reached a terrific crescendo, replicating the feeling of a cup final with both sides going all-out and Reading goalkeeper Earps twice saving from Weir before eventually being beaten by Zelem’s hit; the young midfielder unleashing her shot that flew past Earps and into the far right corner to send the travelling Reds in the stands wild.

LIVERPOOL LADIES: Chamberlain, Murray, Bonner ©, Ingle, Van Den Berg, Longhurst, Coombs, White (Zelem), Lundh (Van De Sanden), Harding, Weir