Liverpool FC women’s team have hit a small speed bump in their promotion campaign. The Reds came into the game with the London City Lionesses on a seven-game winning streak in the FA Women’s Championship and were looking to maintain or extend their lead at the top of the table. The Lionesses, who started matchday three in the table, had been the only side capable of beating Liverpool in the league so far this season, edging out the Reds in the opener of the year. They again proved to be a very competitive opponent, managing to thwart Liverpool’s powerful attack for most of the day while snatching a second-half goal to share the honours.
There was good news and bad news for Matt Beard’s team when the rosters were announced. Jasmine Matthews has returned to her role as centre-back after missing the last month and a half with a hamstring injury. Unfortunately, Missy Bo Kearns and Leighanne Robe both missed the match due to injuries.
Based on the formation given, the formation appeared to be a 4-4-2 with Charlotte Wardlaw at right-back, and with Yana Daniels and Melissa Lawley at wing-backs. It could also have been the more usual Liverpool 3-4-3 with Wardlaw playing as one of the back three and Daniels as a right-back as we saw against Arsenal. Unfortunately, as happens all too often, there was no other way to watch the game than to be at the stadium.
As often this year, Liverpool opened the game by putting their opponents under pressure. Yana Daniels was involved in creating the first two chances, first sending a cross to Ceri Holland who was heading just wide of the net and then sending another cross to Katie Stengel at the far post. London City goalkeeper Shae Yanaz was on hand to collect the cross before Stengel could put his head in it.
The Lionesses showed they could create problems for Liverpool by running down their left wing to exploit the space behind Charlotte Wardlaw. Shanade Hopcroft appeared to be in goal, but Rachael Furness was up to the task, making the save in a 1v1 situation.
American Katie Stengel opened the scoring for Liverpool in the 27th minute with a one-on-one play. As London City looked to build from behind, Stengel came forward to intercept a pass from the keeper to a central defender and then slid the ball into the net! It was his fourth goal in six league appearances since signing for Liverpool in January.
Liverpool pushed for a second goal before the end of the first half, with Melissa Lawley twice able to convert but failing to put the ball away both times. Rachael Laws made another big save to retain the lead. Unfortunately, Charlotte Wardlaw was sent off with injury just before half-time, with Razza Roberts taking the place of the young defender.
London City found the equalizer just eight minutes into the second half. The Lionesses sent in a corner which the Reds failed to clear completely, and Brooke Nunn was on hand to bring the ball home from close range. It was the first goal Liverpool had conceded in the league since November.
The remainder of the second half became a tense back-and-forth affair, with neither team able to establish dominance over the game. Both sides had good chances to score a second goal, with Liverpool seeing efforts from Daniels, Roberts and Kiernan all sidelined late in the game.
With Liverpool’s draw and a victory for runners-up Bristol City, the lead at the top of the table is now seven points with six games remaining. The Reds will play their first of two consecutive games with Charlton next Sunday with the away fixture, followed by hosting Charlton the following weekend.