Amanda Da Costa & Natasha Dowie on Thursday Night Live

  Tonight Liverpool Ladies duo Amanda Da Costa and Natasha Dowie made an appearance on LFCTV’s Thursday Night Live alongside Liverpool legend Alan Kennedy and former player Stephen Warnock. Although neither could beat the Top Bin Challenge, it was a great chance to see the players being interviewed for the first time in 2014 ahead of the new season. For the full interview see below, the show will also be repeated on LFCTV (Sky channel 429) a number of times over the next week so if you want to watch it keep an eye out!

 Being back for pre-season
 Natasha Dowie: It’s been great. We started back training on Monday, it’s been nice to see all the new players and old faces as well. It’s been tough – there’s a lot of running involved in pre-season – but to have the opportunity to train during the day and full-time is unbelievable. It’s a dream come true.
 Amanda Da Costa: [There has been] a lot of fitness testing to see what we’ve been doing over the off-season to keep in shape and stay fit. Now it’s just maintaining that fitness level and pushing the limits a little bit, everyone looks sharp and ready to go this season.
 On the break
 ND: The season finished in September so we’ve had a good 3 months off. I’ve been quite busy with England which is good because I don’t really like having too much time off doing nothing, the gym gets a little boring after a while I like to be on the field kicking a ball around. We’ve got World Cup Qualifiers every month with England. The break hasn’t been too long but the season starts now in April so we’ve got a long time still until we get the games under way, I think it’s a case of keeping fresh and keeping injury free and ready for the season to start.
 Q: Would you class Man City as your derby now, rather than Everton?
 ND: No, I’d definitely still say Everton. I was at Everton for 4 years so when we had the derby last year it was a huge game for me personally. Obviously you want to beat your old team mates and we came away victorious in both game. Everton – for me – 100% would be the derby game for us.
 AD: I didn’t even know what [the derby] was before I came, so that was a learning experience for me! After being a part of Liverpool and understanding the rivalry between Everton and us. The first derby we had just about a year ago it was snowing and it was an intense game. I’ve had rivalries before at University in the States, that’s probably the next thing I could compare it to and that’s not much of a comparison!
 On Daniel Sturridge
 ND: He’s played brilliant for Liverpool since he’s signed, him and Suarez have a brilliant partnership – similar to mine and Amanda’s, she knows where I’m running and picks me out every time. Him and Suarez have probably been the best two centre forwards this season so far.
 Q: Amanda, if you were Steven Gerrard would you have let Natasha take that penalty?
 AD: Tash would have grabbed that ball and ran to the penalty spot so fast I wouldn’t have had time to say anything otherwise! You have that goal scoring mentality and the emotion in a derby like that, he tried and unfortunatey he came up a little short.
 ND: As a centre forward I would want to take that to complete my hat trick, I can’t say how Sturridge was feeling at that time but the way he took it I don’t know if he was just a bit too excited. It looked to me that he was just focusing on the hat trick.
 Alan Kennedy: You’re right I didn’t think he took the penalty right, he usually places them but he rushed it over the top.
 On returning from injury
 ND: I had a bad injury just before I signed for Liverpool. I did my ankle ligaments, came back 6 weeks later and then tore my groin. That always happens when you come back from one injury you tend to get another. I attempted to play through it all season, taking painkillers and trying to get through it so I probably wasn’t 50% – I think I scored 1 goal for Everton the whole season. So I really focused on doing my proper rehab before the season started for Liverpool and I was injury free all last year and had a really good year. It is tough and I think as a player you always just want to try and get through it no matter what. I think it is important that you do do the right rehab because in the end it will end up putting you back longer so it is frustrating.
 Q: Amanda, how is life on Merseyside?
 AD: I like it here, I’ve had a year already to adjust – this is my second season back with the team. All the girls are great, we all fit in together really well, Tash is a good friend on and off the pitch and I think that shows in our play as well. We have our spots that we like to go to around town that we frequent, it’s a lot of fun. I’m enjoying exploring the city, it’s somewhere new and definitely different from New York.
 On winning the league
 AD: That was a lot of fun to bring home. When I first signed to come here the club had a long way to go and they were making a lot of positive changes. I was really excited to be a part of it and I wouldn’t have come all the way over here if not to win the league, myself and my team mates had our sights set on it and we did what we said we would do so that was pretty cool!
 Q: Are the UK catching up to the USA in terms of Women’s Football?
 AD: I think so, the women’s game has come really far globally. There’s a lot of other leagues – Germany, Sweden, France – England is really catching up and I think that the league in the States has a long way to go. It’s definitely made some progress, it’s learnt from mistakes in the past with having to shut down and reopens itself several times. University is huge in the United States, it’s very competitive. It was hard for me, I came out of college at and awkward time in the league – it was up, it was down and I didn’t know what to do. I’ve always wanted to comes overseas so for me it was a perfect opportunity.
 On full-backs
 ND: It’s a very demanding position, just from the way we played last season I think our manager Matt Beard looked at the Liverpool first team. Our full-backs are literally like wing-backs and the amount of energy they’ve got is unbelievable. It’s not an easy position, it’s very tough.
 Score predictions for Liverpool vs West Brom
 ND: 2-0
 AD: 3-0

Match Preview: Liverpool Ladies v Lincoln Ladies & The FA Cup Final (BAWFC v ALFC)

 This Wednesday Lincoln Ladies make the trip to Halton Stadium in search of their first league win this season. This game sees the start of a busy couple of weeks for Liverpool, for more information please see my previous blog here.

 Liverpool go into this game sitting 3rd in the league but with a game in hand over second placed Chelsea. We have played three away games since our last game at Halton, the first of which being an emphatic 4-0 win over reigning champions Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. This ended Arsenal’s unbeaten league run which dated back to July 2011. People pointed to the fact Arsenal had a few players out injured but there was only two changes to the starting line up that beat us a couple of weeks earlier at Anfield. From the match reports and the two minute highlights video we get, Liverpool were clearly the more clinical team on the night coupled with top class defending unlike the Gunners. Whitney Engen’s goal line clearance could be watched over and over again and you would still be in awe every time! Amanda Da Costa scored the first two goals of her Liverpool career, Natasha Dowie and Louise Fors grabbed the other two.

 After the Arsenal victory it was back to London again looking for a third straight league win, a win over Chelsea would have kept us at the top of the table. Liverpool started brightly taking and early lead through Whitney Engen (or Egan if you’re the commentator on the  FAWSL highlights video) and Nicole Rolser’s goal bound strike was only just tipped over by the Chelsea keeper. Jakobsson equalised for Chelsea shortly before half time. Liverpool sustained their first half pressure after coming out for the second half, however despite a clear foul on Whitney Engen in the build up Chelsea took the lead with an Eni Aluko goal. Great goalkeeping from Linn prevented Liverpool from getting a goal back the game finished 2-1 Chelsea.

 The third of our games seen us at Chelsea for a second weekend running, this time in the Continental Cup with Liverpool needing just a point to reach the semi finals. From the whistle Liverpool were never just looking for a point and quickly wreaked revenge on Chelsea. Nicole Rolser finally scored her first Liverpool goal, an in form Natasha Dowie scored twice bringing her season tally up to an impressive 7 goals in 9 games and Fara Williams rounded off the scoring with a brilliant free kick. The 4-0 victory seen us qualify for the semis in style at the top of our group and set up a semi final at Halton Stadium against Lincoln Ladies to be played 7th/8th August.

 Onto the opposition then; Lincoln have had a mixed start to their season. They have done brilliantly in both cup competitions, only getting knocked out of The FA Cup in the semis against Bristol and setting up a Continental Cup semi against us despite their tough group of Arsenal, Bristol and Birmingham. They have yet to win a game in the league however and will no doubt be in search of 3 points in this game. Of their last 5 games they have lost just once and if not for a wonder goal from Steph Houghton, Lincoln could have claimed Arsenals second league defeat of the season.

 Lincoln have quite a young side but also boast the experience of England captain Casey Stoney and England No 1 Karen Bardsley amongst their ranks. Jess Clarke will be a constant attacking threat on the wing, providing the service for front woman Carla Cantrell. Our previous game against Lincoln at Sincil Bank was won by a Natasha Dowie goal and finished 1-0, this game should be a similarly close encounter.

The  FA Cup Final

 To verge off topic from  Liverpool now, yesterday I attended The FA Cup Final to see Bristol attempt to overcome Arsenal. It was a fantastic day out in Doncaster. I always love meeting fellow supporters and during the game I sat with 4 Arsenal supporters whilst silently hoping for a Bristol win! The game itself was good, I was disappointed with Bristol’s Laura del Rio starting on the bench but apparently she was carrying an injury and she did come on with about 15 minutes to go.

 Arsenal opened the scoring within 2 minutes to immediately put Bristol on the back foot. Bristol’s defence was poor and it was only thanks to an excellent performance from Bristol goalkeeper Siobhan  Chamberlain that the scoreline was kept to less than what it could have been. Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs gave a great performance and deservedly won player of the match. Bristol’s travelling support also deserves a mention for continuing to sing despite their team being 3-0 down. The only dampeners on the day were Lucy Staniforth’s injury and the treatment of the Doncaster Belles supporters. More on that can be found here.

 Highlights of my day included hearing the Bristol supporters singing “4-0 at The Emirates” to the Arsenal team as they got off their bus, Alex Scott spying my Liverpool shirt and saying “oh no don’t remind me about that” and finally two 5 year old Arsenal supporters asking me what drug testing was thanks to Grace McCatty!

 While I thoroughly enjoyed the final I would obviously have preferred to have seen Liverpool there but there is always next year and we still have the Continental Cup to play for!

Hope to see a few of you at the game on Wednesday, KO is 7:30pm and as always tickets available at the gate for a fiver!