Match Report: Bristol Academy 3 – 4 Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool fought their way back to the top of the Woman’s Super League with a hard-earned 4-3 victory away at league leaders Bristol Academy.

 Following a 3-0 league defeat against Arsenal last weekend, Liverpool needed to win this game to keep our title hopes alive – lose and Bristol would extend their lead to 6 points. Matt Beard made two changes to the team that lost midweek in the cup to Lincoln, Sarah Quantrill returned to the starting line up in place of Rachel Laws and Sarah Gregorius dropped to the bench in favour of Katrin Omarsdottir.

 Liverpool got off to a good start, Amanda Da Costa with the reds first effort after goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain’s clearance only went as far as the American midfielder. Da Costa’s first time strike at the empty Bristol goal however went over the crossbar.

 Lucy Bronze put in another great shift on the right and an early cross nearly found Natasha Dowie, forcing Chamberlain to punch the ball away.

 Nicole Rolser, Liverpool’s tricky German midfielder, once again found herself the main target of opposition fouls and was pushed over by Grace McCatty just outside of the 18 yard box. Fara Williams and Louise Fors stood over it with Fors taking, hitting the wall.
 Natasha Harding picked up a nasty looking eye injury, one that put Liverpool captain Gemma Bonner’s black eye to shame, following a tumble with Sarah Quantrill in the box.
 Bristol were awarded a dubious free kick decision, it was sent towards Heatherson in the 6 yard box who’s first strike was parried away by Quantrill but she followed up the rebound to put Bristol ahead.
 Katrin Omarsdottir almost equalised immediately for Liverpool, a Louise Fors corner was only cleared as far as Da Costa who hit the ball back into the box but Katrin couldn’t control her volley.
 Shortly after Nicole Rolser was again knocked down by Grace McCatty, this time in the penalty area and Liverpool were correctly awarded a penalty. Given our luck with penalties over the last week, Louise Fors stepped up to smash the ball past Chamberlain and grab that all important equaliser to put us back in the game.
 Into added time at the end of the first half, Louise Fors swung her corner kick into the box. The ball bounced through a few players before literally bouncing off the surprised Nicole Rolser into the back of the net. The goal at the stroke of half time sent the Ladies in 2-1 up.
 Back out for the second half and now playing with confidence. Liverpool were awarded another free kick on the edge of the box, this time Icelandic midfielder Katrin Omarsdottir stepped up but again it hit the wall. 
 Omarsdottir was to get a third chance at goal a few minutes later and made no mistakes with this one, scoring a brilliant goal from the edge of the box to give us a 2 goal cushion. The was Katrin’s second Liverpool goal and not her first as the BT Sport commentator informed everybody – she scored the winner against Sunderland in our FA Cup Quarter Final.
 Chasing the game Bristol made two attacking substitutions, sending on Spanish duo Laura Del Rio and Keka. Del Rio made an immediate impact.
 Sarah Quantrill’s goal kick only went as far as Natalia who quickly passed to Del Rio and she slotted the ball past Quantrill to pull a goal back.
 Not even two minutes later Bristol had their equaliser – Natasha Harding’s cross into the box found Natalia who made it 3-3.
 With 10 minutes left for either side to find a winner, both Lucy Bronze and Whitney Engen did well breaking down Bristol attacks.
 Becky Easton came on to replace Corina Schroder for her first appearance this half of the season and Sarah Gregorius came on for penalty scorer Louise Fors.
 Captain Gemma Bonner suddenly found herself in a bit of space in the Bristol half, letting the ball roll a couple of yards in front and glancing towards goal she superbly struck the ball which went flying past Chamberlain. Liverpool were 4-3 up with minutes to go.
 Into injury time – Kate Longhurst replaced Natasha Dowie up front for the reds but it was all Bristol as they desperately searched for another equaliser. They won a corner deep into injury time yet any hope was crushed as Rose headed well over.
 A great shift put in tonight by all Liverpool Ladies, player of the match has to go to Gemma Bonner for a great all-round performance and a crucial match winning goal that could be so important for our season. Nicole Rolser and Lucy Bronze the other stand out players in this great Liverpool side this evening.
 The Ladies now have a week until their next game against Chelsea Ladies. This will be played at Halton Stadium Saturday 17th August, 7:15pm KO. The match preview for this game will be up during the week.
 Thanks for reading and thanks to all those that joined @LFCLadiesFans on twitter tonight during the game! All comments are much appreciated.

Match Preview: Bristol Academy vs Liverpool Ladies

 Looking at the list of games for the second half of the season, this one perhaps draws a little more anticipation than the other fixtures. Until Liverpool slumped to a 3-0 defeat by Arsenal last weekend and Bristol were gifted 3 points at Everton, ourselves and the Vixens were equal on points – with Liverpool having the superior goal difference. Their win last Sunday meant they leapfrogged us into 1st place, ahead by only 3 points. The outcome of this match could be crucial to our league season.

 Hoping to bounce back from the Arsenal defeat, Liverpool played Lincoln in a mid-week semi final. The reds unfortunately lost the game on penalties despite dominating the run of the play. Liverpool peppered the Lincoln goal with shots, yet England number 1 Karen Bardsley reminded everyone why she is regarded as one of the worlds top keepers with a number of inspired saves to keep us out. Bardsley also saved two penalty kicks during the shootout, from Louise Fors and Natasha Dowie.
 At times during the game Liverpool looked like the team we had watched during the first half of the season, particularly during the first 45 minutes as we created many chances and could have gone in at half time easily up by 2 or 3 more than 1-0
 Unlike Liverpool, Bristol won their first game back after the break against our Merseyside rivals Everton. The half of the game was a 4 goal thriller, twice the Vixens went ahead with Everton twice bringing the score level. Bristol’s first was a Jill Scott own goal, while their second came after a misplaced Everton back pass. Heavy rain during the second half seemed to slow the tempo of the game however debutant Billie Murphy scored the blues second own goal of the game to gift Bristol the win.
 Bristol play an attacking game, Natalia is a constant threat – always lurking around the 18 yard box – alongside fellow Spaniard Laura Del Rio. Del Rio carried a slight injury problem through May and June which limited her appearances but she did come off the bench against Everton. Natasha Harding is another key player for the Vixens, netting the second goal against Everton at the weekend, Harding seems to have easily slipped back into her fine form straight after the break.
 This is a game Liverpool cannot really afford to lose, a Bristol victory would see them extend their lead over us at the top to six points with Arsenal also breathing down our necks.
 Natasha Dowie scored for us against Lincoln during the week and was unlucky not to double or treble her tally as she linked up well with Nicole Rolser. Fara Williams was the driving force behind most of Liverpool’s attacks on Wednesday, along with Amanda Da Costa. New signing Kate Longhurst was cup tied during the week but could feature against Bristol after impressing while coming on as a sub against Arsenal.
 Hopefully 120 minutes played during the week will not affect us, I don’t think motivation will be a problem however and I am sure Liverpool will throw everything at Bristol to get our season back on track.
 This is an away game for Liverpool Ladies and will be played at Bristol Academy’s Stoke Gifford Stadium. Kick off is at 7:45pm with adult tickets priced at £5 and concessions £3, the game is also live on BT Sport for those who can’t make it and for those who don’t have BT Sport keep an eye out on twitter as I will try and share a stream!
 @LFCLadiesFans will be live tweeting the game, although not there I will be watching on BT Sport. The @Girlsontheball will be there however so make sure you’re also following them.
 Thanks for reading!

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!