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)
PLAYER OF THE MATCH Martha Harris