Liverpool Ladies produced a fine defensive performance away at FA Women’s Super League leaders Chelsea Ladies on Saturday afternoon. Norwegian international Maren Mjelde’s first half strike the difference between the two sides as the Reds fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat.
Scott Rogers side had suffered a tough 3-0 defeat last week at home to Reading and were looking to make amends here, Kate Longhurst in to bolster the midfield and Jess Clarke leading the line up front.
Sophie Ingle sat in front of an unchanged back five of Satara Murray, Gemma Bonner, Casey Stoney, Alex Greenwood and Siobhan Chamberlain in goal; while Natasha Harding and Niamh Charles went on either side of Longhurst and Laura Coombs in midfield.
In contrast to last week’s performance Liverpool started the tie brightly, Ji So-Yun flashed the first chance of the tie wide of the mark for the hosts yet it was Longhurst who sparked the game into life. A trademark, biting challenge winning the ball back for the Reds and allowing Ingle to plough a pass up the field towards Clarke.
Clarke was marked by Millie Bright throughout yet almost slipped past her here, turning and looking to fire an effort at goal that was closed down at the edge of the box.
Reds captain Bonner was also a stand out during the 90 minutes, blocking shots and passes here, there and everywhere. In only the fourth minute of the game closing down Carney’s strike and then four minutes from time out again to twice deny the Blues.
Chelsea took the lead almost against the run of play, Liverpool had certainly enjoyed possession and Coombs’ set piece narrowly missing the head of Ingle – Bonner’s ball back in intercepted – and Harding narrowly flagged offside after Greenwood’s probing cross.
Norwegian international Mjelde produced an excellent finish from the edge of the area to open the scoring, although it came minutes after a dubious refereeing decision as the referee deemed that Clarke had brought down Gilly Flaherty.
The hosts had chances to double their lead yet were spurned at each turn by the fierce Liverpool defence; Charles nicking the ball out from under the feet of Flaherty and Ingle heading away the resulting corner, Bonner blocking Erin Cuthbert’s shot and Greenwood heading the rebound out and a crunching last-ditch tackle from Bonner preventing Carney from finding the net herself.
Before the first half drew to a close a fizzing free kick from Greenwood almost wormed its way in at the far post, an inch wide and Bonner arriving a second too late to tap the ball over the line.
Chances for either side were few and far between in the second half and Clarke had perhaps the most clear-cut opportunity for Liverpool; Ingle had come into possession just inside the Reds half and flashed it quickly up the pitch for Clarke to run in behind the defence, giving chase the no.9 went through on goal yet took a heavy first touch and then could only watch as Blues ‘keeper Becky Spencer gathered up the ball.
Both sides made substitutions with Rogers bringing on Ashley Hodson and Caroline Weir, looking to snatch an equaliser while Chelsea boss Emma Hayes looked to attacking trio Fran Kirby, Eni Aluko and Drew Spence.
Spence was twice frustrated by Murray who strongly held off the forward to shield the ball out for a Liverpool goal kick and then heading away Millie Bright’s cross before she could connect with it.
The Blues also had a series of corners, each expertly defended by Liverpool and Chamberlain produced a number of excellent saves – punching away a strike by Mjelde and denying the hosts a second in added time at the end of the game.
For those supporters disheartened by the showing against Reading, this was the Reds showing that that performance was merely a bad day at the office and that they can go shoulder-to-shoulder and match the best teams in this league.
Chelsea’s strength in depth was today matched by Liverpool’s heart and fight, a performance that all can be proud of and one that can kick start the season – which continues this coming Wednesday with a home Continental Cup tie against WSL2’s Sheffield United at Widnes.
LIVERPOOL LADIES: Chamberlain, Murray, Bonner ©, Stoney, Greenwood, Ingle, Longhurst, Coombs, Charles (Hodson), Harding, Clarke (Weir)



Liverpool Ladies fell to a 3-0 home defeat to Reading F.C. Women on Friday night in Widnes.
A stunning volley from former Liverpool midfielder and England’s most capped player Fara Williams put the Royals ahead inside twenty minutes, while Remi Allen doubled the lead before half-time.
The Reds started the second half the brightest of the two sides, looking more and more likely to drag themselves back into the game before Brooke Chaplen netted a killer blow fifteen minutes from time.
Reading have invested heavily in their squad over the last twelve months and it showed in their starting line up; a midfield containing Williams, Jo Potter and Jade Moore, Kirsty Linnett supported by Brooke Chaplen (who loves a goal against the Reds) up front and Mary Earps in goal.
As such, the visitors started on the front foot with Satara Murray called into action early on, intercepting a through ball at the edge of the 18-yard box. Then it was Sophie Ingle blocking a strike, the rebound of which Siobhan Chamberlain did well to push around the post.
From the resulting corner Allen fired an effort in that ricocheted off the post and another set piece minutes later was put wide by Williams.
Liverpool began to find their feet and showed promise attacking down the left flank, Bethany England moved out wide ahead of Alex Greenwood and the duo linked up well.
England’s sheer determinedness to win the ball and keep it in over on the touchline allowing the on-loan Chelsea forward to swing a ball in towards Charles who missed connecting with the cross by seconds.
Next it was Greenwood’s turn to put the ball into the ball, playing a low diagonal ball for Natasha Harding to flick on towards Charles yet the Royals defence managing to clear.
Shortly before Reading took the lead England was again causing problems on the left. Once more winning the ball deep in the Royals half and battling her way into the box, cutting the ball across to Harding who was off balance and unable to steer her effort on target.
Just as it seemed a goal was coming for the Reds, Harding and Caroline Weir attempting a one-two that was intercepted just outside the area, they found themselves behind. The ball landing to Williams who sweetly struck an unstoppable volley into the back of the net.
Undeterred the Reds continued to press with Weir stopped by a crucial challenge, Gemma Bonner denied at the near post after striking a low shot at Earps and Harding also beaten to the ball by the ‘keeper after chasing a Greenwood cross.
However, almost against the run of play, Reading doubled their lead as Allen tapped the ball over the line at the far post.
Out for the second half Liverpool looked revitalised and were very much on top, forcing their visitors on the back foot yet the Reds struggled to turn the pressure and possession into goals.
Two minutes into the half Weir skipped past her marker to curl a left footed effort at goal that crashed back off the post. The Reds midfielder also delivered an impressive set piece that reached the head of Sophie Ingle but her headed landed in the arms of Earps.
England and Harding both had chances to pull a goal back as well. England forcing her way into the box yet seeing her strike go the wrong side of the post and Harding the benefiter of a lightning-quick move from the Reds down the left, her strike on target and Earps agonisingly tipping it around the post.
Jess Clarke replaced Charles on the hour mark and immediately introduced herself by letting a shot fly from distance that went wide of the goal, while England saw a header from Laura Coombs’ corner cleared off the line.
With fifteen minutes left on the clock and as the Reds looked to force their way up the right wing, Reading won the ball back, quickly countering and Chaplen netted a killer third goal from outside the area.
As the game drew to a close there was a major positive for Liverpool as full-back Martha Harris made a welcome return from a long injury lay-off. Harris taking to the pitch as though no time had passed and throwing herself into a series of tackles, preventing the Royals from closing in on goal once more.
Overall a disappointing night for all involved with Liverpool Ladies, however important to remember that this is just the second game of a long season. Let’s get behind the Reds.
LIVERPOOL LADIES: Chamberlain, Murray (Harris), Bonner (c), Stoney, Greenwood, Ingle, Coombs, Weir,  Charles (Clarke), England, Harding
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Bethany England