Liverpool Ladies 1 – 2 Arsenal Ladies, FA Cup Semi Final Match Report

 Liverpool exited the FA Cup this evening with a fighting performance against Arsenal Ladies. There are lots of positives to take from the defeat, the team is really starting to settle as a group and last season who would have thought we would push Arsenal all the way in an FA Cup Semi Final!
 Liverpool bossed the midfield from the off. Katrin and Rolser in particular were impressive, Katrin nearly opened the scoring with her header going slightly wide of the post. Natasha Dowie was also a stand out performer, holding up play brilliantly in and around the 18 yard box. A great header on the stroke of half time from Dowie gave the Ladies a morale boost and it was a shame there wasn’t longer left to play in the first half.
 Liverpool started brightly in the second half and were unlucky to be caught on the break for the second Arsenal goal. Rolser spotted Byrne off her line and tried an audacious chip from 20 yards out that unfortunately sailed over the crossbar. Also unlucky in the second half was Amanda DaCosta – full of energy and seemingly all over the pitch – who went through on goal only to be thwarted by the Arsenal defence. Dowie almost snatched a second equalizer for Liverpool in injury time following a great ball into the box from Whitney Engen however it wasn’t to be.
 There was a 2000 strong crowd on The Kop, bit of a strange crowd – a lot of kids meant Arsenal players were getting booed. Booing opposition players is something I don’t condone at football games, the energy is best spent getting behind your own team! An amusing fight also broke out after someone threw a bottle onto the pitch when Arsenal scored their first goal.
 Other than that it was great to see the ladies play at Anfield in front of a large crowd. Fantastic to see Anfield traditions upheld, George Sephton being the ever-present Voice of Anfield, the playing of You’ll  Never Walk Alone as the teams walked out and a favourite of mine – clapping the opposing keeper as they run towards the Kop goal. Arsenal are a well-oiled machine and I wish them the best of luck in next month’s final.
 Next up for the reds we have Doncaster Belles in the Continental Cup. The game is due to be played Saturday 4th May at Halton Stadium, Widnes and will kick off at 7:15pm. Ticket pricing is the same as this evenings game (£4 adults, £1 under 16’s) and tickets can be purchased on the day at the turnstiles.
 In other news today the FA has announced the 18 teams who will play in the restructured WSL next season. Liverpool have retained their WSL status and will play in the top tier of the competition. The two big changes for current WSL teams, Doncaster Belles will be in the second tier of the league having being replaced by Manchester City Ladies and Lincoln Ladies will be rebranded as Notts County. Highly disappointing for both sets of supporters and for women’s football.
From The FAWSL website;
The following clubs have been selected for FA WSL1:
Arsenal Ladies FC, Birmingham City Ladies FC, Bristol Academy Women’s FC, Chelsea Ladies FC, Everton Ladies FC, Notts County Ladies FC  (formerly known as Lincoln Ladies FC), Liverpool Ladies FC, Manchester City Ladies FC
The following clubs have been selected for FA WSL2:
Aston Villa Ladies FC, Doncaster Rovers Belles Ladies FC, Durham Women’s FC, London Bees Women’s FC (Barnet FC), Millwall Lionesses FC, Oxford United Women’s FC, Reading Women’s FC, Sunderland Women’s FC, Watford Ladies FC, Yeovil Town Ladies FC

Match Preview: Arsenal Ladies

 Tomorrow evening Liverpool Ladies take on Arsenal in the FA Cup  Semi Final, looking to reach the final for the first time ever. Anfield will host the tie as the FA’s choice of a ‘neutral’ venue. Tickets on the night will be £5 for adults, £2.50 concessions with the seating being unreserved on The Kop. The game is not televised so if you’re in Liverpool get yourself down to support the girls and if you are unable to for whatever reason the official twitter will be live tweeting the game here. I will try my best to update my twitter whilst there however I don’t hold much faith with the wifi at Anfield!

 Our opposition Arsenal are the team to beat in Women’s football and are by far the biggest test we could face on route to a final. Since their foundation in 1987 they have won the FA Cup a record 11 times and for the past two season have been Women’s Super League Champions. Their team boasts a number of established internationals including Women’s Player of the Year Steph Houghton. Houghton is a remarkable attacking left back who you may remember from scoring 3 goals for Great Britain in last years Olympics. Striker Kelly Smith has not featured for Arsenal yet this season and so is a doubt to appear here. Other players to watch out for are attacking midfielder Jordan Nobbs and Rachel Yankey.

 To reach the semi-final Arsenal beat Birmingham 6-0 however have lost both games since, both to Wolfsburg whilst crashing out of the  Champions League. On the other hand Liverpool go into the clash unbeaten in all competitions despite a near-complete squad overhaul during the winter the team have won all but one of their games together. That game being the 1-1 at home to Everton in the Continental Cup. Liverpool acquired their place in the semi-final with two away wins, convincingly beating Aston Villa 5-0 and then a 2-1 win over current Premier League Champions Sunderland in the quarters. Despite Liverpool Ladies never reaching an  FA Cup Final before there is experience within the team, Fara Williams, Becky Easton and Natasha Dowie all won the cup while they were with Everton, Dowie scoring a great goal in the final.

 To play at Anfield will be brilliant for players and supporters alike and it promises to be a great occasion!

Match Preview: SWFC

FA Cup Quarter Final, KO 2PM 

 Who are we playing? Sunderland Women’s Football Club
 Where? Away, SWFC usually play their home games at Hetton Centre however due to this being unavailable this tie will be played at The Academy Of Light. Due to this change there will be no admission to the game on the day.
 Injuries? Sunderland have 2 players out, midfielder Rachel Furness and striker Natalie Gutteridge.

 Sunderland currently play in the Women’s Premier League which is a division below LLFC, however they are one of the teams hoping for a place in the revamped Women’s Super League from next season.  Sunderland have won the Premier League the last two seasons, also winning the League Cup during this time. This season they sit 5 points clear at the top again having won 9 and drawn 3 of their 12 games. Both team progressed to the quarter finals with big wins, Liverpool won 5-0 away at Aston Villa while Sunderland beat Manchester City 4-0.

 Random fact: Liverpool defender Lucy Bronze came through the academy at Sunderland and played for their senior team from 2007-2010.