Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Liverpool Ladies sign Gemma Davison

 Today Liverpool Ladies have announced the signing of former Arsenal Ladies player Gemma Davison. Davison will be a great addition to Liverpool’s attack for the upcoming 2014 season, adding to our already impressive attacking force.

 Davison re-signed for Arsenal last March following a spell in America where, along with Bristol Academy’s Ann-Marie Heatherson, she helped Buffalo Flash to the W-League title. The following year the Flash became Western New York Flash joining the WPS league, Davison made 12 appearances - alongside former red Whitney Engen - in another title-winning campaign scoring once.

 Last season Gemma made 21 appearances, including in the 3-0 defeat of Liverpool, for Arsenal Ladies, scoring 3 times as the Gunners won the double with The FA & Continental Cup. 

 Follow Gemma on Twitter here: @GemD1987

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Martha Harris signs for Liverpool Ladies!

 On Tuesday the reigning Women’s Super League Champions Liverpool Ladies announced the signing of England Under-19 international Martha Harris, formerly of Lincoln Ladies/ Notts County.

 Last season Martha Harris was named the Imps Player of the Season, following a campaign in which Lincoln enjoyed a great run in the Continental Cup. Helping the Imps to the final following a semi-final victory away at Liverpool, Lincoln were then defeated 2-0 by Arsenal Ladies in the final despite a brilliant defensive display.

 Harris is a fantastic defensive talent who has represented England throughout the age-groups and has been included in the England U20 training camp for next summer’s U20 World Cup – alongside Liverpool's Bethany Donoghue. 

 Along with the announcement of Harris' signing, players that are not returning to Liverpool for the 2014 season include Sarah Gregorius, Sarah Quantrill, Jess Holbrook, Rachel Laws and Whitney Engen. Good luck to all 5 of them with their new clubs!

 To end on a positive note American midfielder Amanda Da Costa has signed a new contract and will be returning to Liverpool in January, while Natasha Dowie also confirmed on LFCTV's Thursday Night Live she will be back in 2014. When asked "You've played for plenty of clubs, do you feel like this is home now?", Natasha replied "Definitely, 100%... as soon as I moved to Liverpool I just loved it.. I can't see myself living anywhere else in England. I'm very happy".

 Follow Liverpool's new signing on Twitter here: @MarthaH19 & the rest of the current squad here: Liverpool Ladies Twitter accounts.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Match Report: Liverpool Ladies 1 - 1 Birmingham City (Development Squad)

 Until the final whistle this game seemed to be going the same way as last weekends victory away at Sunderland, with a last minute winner surely on the way. Unfortunately for Liverpool they did everything but score a second goal.

 Liverpool started the game brightly, both Rebecca Hillman and Claudia Walker spotting early openings in the Birmingham defence and trying their luck from range.

 Ashley Hodson had another fine game up front and was extremely unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, an early run into the box only halted by the oncoming Birmingham keeper.

 Ellie Stewart has also been in great form so far this season, assured at the back when the defence is under pressure and dangerous when attacking the ball at corners - today going close with two headers.

 Both of the games goals came during the first half, Claudia Walker working well just behind Hodson cutting in from both wings and deservedly grabbing her fourth goal of the season.

 Birmingham's goal was against the run of play, a long range effort caught Danielle Gibbons just off her line to equalise for the blues.

 Shortly before half-time and after nearly putting Liverpool back in the lead following a corner, Olivia Wild picked up a wrist injury that looked to be quite painful and was replaced by Emilie Revitt. Revitt coming on forced a change at the back, going to left-back meaning Sam Chappell moved across to right-back and Sophia Riccio to centre-back.

 With the teams out for the second half it was once again Liverpool controlling the game and dominating the possession, Birmingham set themselves up a bit more defensively attempting to catch us on the counter attack.

 Despite the Birmingham attacks being few and far between, reds keeper Danielle Gibbons produced a number of crucial saves. Doing well on one occasion to get down to her left to stop a goal-bound strike.

 Liverpool had many chances throughout the second half, Bethany Donoghue almost putting Katie Zelem through on goal, Emilie Revitt also with a brilliant cross into the box that only just skimmed the top of Ashley Hodson's head.

 Holly Yates then came on for Donoghue as the chances kept on coming. Katie Zelem the driving force behind many of the Liverpool attacks, a pass to Hodson who's cross went just behind Yates and then unlucky not to find Hillman with a low pass on the edge of the box.

 With 5 minutes to play Liverpool continued to press but to no avail, the second goal simply not coming. Zelem this time on the end of a couple of chances, first with a shot intercepted and then heading over.

 In the final minutes it was Hodson who almost claimed the late winner, the ball coming to her just outside the six-yard box just a little too fast giving her no time to control it and the shot over the crossbar.

 Team: Gibbons (C), Chappell, Stewart, Riccio, Wild (Revitt), Dale, Zelem, Donoghue (Yates), Hillman, Walker, Hodson

 POTM: Danielle Gibbons

 Liverpool will be disappointed to not have won all 3 points this afternoon but should not be disheartened by their fighting performance. Today was the final time this year Liverpool will play at home, next Sunday they are back away at Sunderland before breaking over Christmas. The next home fixture will be against Doncaster Belles on 2nd February 2014, for full fixtures and results click here & follow @LFCLadiesFans on Twitter for any news between now and then!

Thanks for following!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Match Report: Liverpool Ladies 6 - 2 Durham WFC (Development Squad)

 Prior to this cup tie, Liverpool Ladies Development Squad had played 3 games - winning 2 and losing 1 away to Notts County in their last outing. Looking to bounce back with a win over Durham and with a strong starting 11, full-back Olivia Wild one of the players not featuring however due to being at St Georges Park.

 This was the 2nd cup game for the reds this season, they beat Manchester City 1-0 away on 13th October and they continued their cup form with a great display which included 6 goals scored by 6 different goalscorers. 

 After getting slightly lost trying to find our way to the stands, a different entrance to watching the first team play, we missed the first few minutes including an early injury to Sophia Riccio. Riccio looked in some pain and was replaced by Shannon Beckwith, hopefully the injury wasn't as bad as it looked. 

 Liverpool were attacking with intent and looked hungry for goals, so far this season the team had scored 5 goals in 3 games. Katie Zelem took a free kick that hit the wall, hit back into the box the ball went out for a corner kick and the resulting corner was put in by Beckwith who had been on the pitch only a couple of minutes. 

 Following the goal Durham mounted an attack that broke down when Samantha Chappell was fouled in the 18-yard box, goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons took the free kick that led to the attack in which Bethany Donoghue doubled Liverpool's lead to 2-0.

 Showing no signs of sitting back to defend the lead, Liverpool continued to press forward and quickly extended the lead to 3. Center-back Ellie Stewart took a free kick that thwarted the Durham keeper to end up in the back of the net, despite the fact it wasn't actually a strike it was a great first Liverpool goal for Stewart. 

 Liverpool's defence dealt well with the Durham attack, before unfortunately conceding a penalty and Durham d├ębutante Stacy Crooks sent Gibbons the wrong way to pull a goal back. 

 Just before half-time former Claudia Walker scored her 3rd goal in 4 games to re-extend the reds lead to 3 goals.

 Throughout the 2nd half it was mostly Liverpool pressure, slightly more settled than the first-half the reds had shot after shot on the Durham goal blocked or saved by the keeper. There were also some fantastic crosses into the box, Ashley Hodson almost got onto the end of one early in the 2nd half, her shot blocked the ball fell to Walker who shot wide.

 Megan Alexander had an impressive second half on the left, first with a great run which was only halted with a fine sliding tackle. Alexander then came close to scoring twice, through on goal her first strike was punched away by the keeper and her second cleared off the line. 

 Ashley Hodson was another player who was a constant attacking threat, her cross across the 6-yard box to Donoghue was just missed by the former Blackburn Rovers midfielder. Donoghue also saw a low drive from the edge of the box saved. 

 Both players got themselves onto the scoresheet as the Durham defence fell apart, Alexander with the 5th and Hodson the 6th after sliding the ball past the oncoming goalkeeper. 

 Durham had a couple of chances late in the game, Crooks did add a second consolation goal injuring Gibbons in the process and Katie Zelem was unlucky not to get herself a goal. Zelem's injury time strike over the crossbar.

 A great all-round team performance from the reds, six different goal scorers speaks for itself and many more players could have grabbed themselves goals - especially during the second half. 

 Next Sunday Liverpool travel to Sunderland for their 3rd league game of the season, and 2 weeks today we will be back at Halton for another league game - this time vs Birmingham City and also a 2pm kick off.    

 Gibbons, Riccio, (Beckwith), Stewart, Chappell, Alexander, Dale (Vella), Rumsey, Donoghue, Zelem, Walker (Revitt), Hodson

 POTM: Megan Alexander, a particularly impressive 2nd half performance with a hat-trick of chances capped with a well taken strike.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Liverpool Ladies: Season Review

Welcome to LFC Ladies Fans Season Review! Results, analysis, stats and opinions abound.

For further reading;
both on This Is Anfield

Liverpool fixtures & results

17/03/13 (a) Aston Villa     W 5-0     FA Cup   attendance unavailable
23/03/13 (h) Everton Ladies     D 1-1     Continental Cup   attendance 1,432
31/03/13 (a) Sunderland WFC     W 2-1     FA Cup   attendance unavailable
14/04/13 (a) Lincoln Ladies     W 1-0     FAWSL   attendance 509
26/04/13 (h) Arsenal Ladies     L 2-1     FA Cup   attendance 2,008
04/05/13 (h) Doncaster Belles     W 1-0     Continental Cup   attendance 471   
07/05/13 (a) Arsenal Ladies     W 4-0     FAWSL   attendance 2017
12/05/13 (a) Chelsea Ladies     L 2-1     FAWSL   attendance 508
19/05/13 (a) Chelsea Ladies     W 4-0     Continental Cup   attendance 357
29/05/13 (h) Lincoln Ladies     W 3-2     FAWSL   attendance 527
04/06/13 (a) Everton Ladies     W 4-1     FAWSL   attendance 1,124
08/06/13 (h) Birmingham City     W 4-1     FAWSL   attendance 436

03/08/13 (h) Arsenal Ladies     L 3-0     FAWSL   attendance 746
07/08/13 (h) Lincon Ladies     L 1-1*     Continental Cup   attendance 507
10/08/13 (a) Bristol Academy     W 4-3     FAWSL   attendance 1,126
17/08/13 (h) Chelsea Ladies     W 4-3     FAWSL   attendance 488
24/08/13 (a) Doncaster Belles     W 9-0     FAWSL   attendance 139
01/09/13 (a) Birmingham City     W 4-2     FAWSL   attendance 308
04/09/13 (h) Doncaster Belles     W 2-0     FAWSL   attendance 297
12/09/13 (h) Everton Ladies     W 4-2     FAWSL   attendance 1,236
29/09/13 (h) Bristol Academy     W 2-0     FAWSL   attendance 2,165          

* AET 1-1, lost 4-2 on penalties.

W 16 / D 1 / L 4

Total Attendances: 16, 401
Average Attendance: 781

Total Home Attendance: 10,613
Average Home Attendance: 965

First league game away @Sincil Bank, Lincoln

Liverpool goal scorers 

Natasha Dowie: 19     vs Aston Villa, Lincoln x 3, Arsenal x 2, Chelsea x 3, Birmingham, Doncaster Belles x 5, Everton x 3
Nicole Rolser: 12     vs Everton, Birmingham x 5, Bristol x 2, Chelsea x 3, Doncaster
Louise Fors: 10     vs Aston Villa, Everton x 2, Arsenal, Lincoln, Bristol x 2, Doncaster x 2, Birmingham
Fara Williams: 7     vs Aston Villa x 3, Chelsea x 2, Doncaster x 2
Gemma Bonner: 3     vs Bristol Academy, Doncaster, Everton
Katrin Omarsdottir: 3     vs Sunderland, Bristol x 2
Amanda Da Costa: 2     vs Arsenal x 2
Lucy Bronze: 1     vs Birmingham
Kate Longhurst: 1     vs Doncaster 
Corina Schroder: 1     vs Everton
Whitney Engen: 1     vs Chelsea

Lillie Fenlon-Billson: 1 (Now @ Lincoln Ladies)
Own goals: 1

Liverpool have scored 61 goals in 21 games this season, a drastic improvement on last years return of 19 goals in 18 games.

Of the goals scored 21 have come from strikers, 33 from midfield and 6 from defence with 1 own goal.

Q&A with Captain Bonner!

Gemma Bonner parades the trophy at Anfield!

Q Congratulations on a fantastic season, what has been your highlight of the year?

The highlight has to be winning the league without a doubt. It makes all the sacrifices and hard work that everyone puts in throughout the season worthwhile.

Q At the start of the year did you expect to be lifting the FAWSL trophy at the end of the campaign?

Looking at the calibre of players that were brought in at the beginning of the season and the structure that was in place we knew we could challenge at the top if we put in the work. The winning mentality of the players has played a massive part this season.. Bristol away and Chelsea at home are two games that stand out in particular winning the games in the last minutes.

Q What are you most looking forward to about playing Champions League football?

Everything! :) The opportunity to test ourselves against other top teams in Europe is an exciting prospect and one which we are all looking forward too!

Q Finally, what are your targets for next season?

Obviously want to defend our title but we were disappointed to be knocked out in both cup semi-finals so will be looking to improve on that also!

FA Women's Super League

W 12 / D 0 / L 2

 Liverpool Ladies were crowned Champions of England for the first time in their 24-year history, scoring 46 goals along the way - a new record for the league. This also means Liverpool will now play first time Champions League football in 2014/15
  Liverpool began the league season away at Sincil Bank, the home of Lincoln Ladies. In windy conditions Natasha Dowie put Liverpool ahead early on and despite many chances we won the game by just one goal to nil.
 Next up for Liverpool was a tough encounter away at reigning champions Arsenal, or so you would think. 2 goals either side of half-time from Amanda Da Costa and 2 more from Dowie and Louise Fors embarrassed Arsenal at the Emirates in their first league defeat since 2011.
Amanda Da Costa scores her 2nd past Arsenal
 Five days later we were back in London again, this time facing Chelsea who like us had strengthened their team over the winter off season. Whitney Engen scored her first Liverpool goal to put us ahead but Chelsea went on to claim victory in controversial circumstances. For their winning goal Engen was clearly fouled in the build up yet this went unnoticed by the referee.
 After the defeat against Chelsea we hosted Lincoln at Halton Stadium in our first home league game this campaign, goals from Natasha Dowie, Fors and an own goal deflected in from a Fara Williams effort meant the reds raced 3-1 ahead. A brilliant goal from Precious Hamilton pulled a goal back for the Imps however Liverpool hung on to take all 3 points.
 Liverpool then made the short trip to Marine FC in Crosby for a mid week derby against Everton, despite a nervy start Liverpool began to dominate possession and capitalised on this when Nicole Rolser slotted the ball home. Everton came out fighting in the second half and their skipper Jill Scott equalised just after half time. The blues didn't stay ahead for long as the reds ran rampant scoring 3 more goals through Fors, Corina Schroder and Dowie.

                                                 Nicole Rolser opens the scoring on Derby Day
 Our final league game before the break was back at Halton Stadium against Birmingham, for the second time in a week we hit 4 goals past a team in blue. Rolser opened the scoring before Birmingham equalised from a corner. Lucy Bronze ensured we went in at half-time 2-1 up with a thundering header while who else but Natasha Dowie scored our third goal of the game and Nicole Rolser got our fourth.
 Following a disappointing Euro's campaign for England, the reds restarted the season at home to Arsenal. Unfortunately for us the Gunners were far faster out the blocks than us and we were 2-0 down at half-time. Liverpool played a lot better during the 2nd half, but any hopes of a comeback were crushed after Natasha Dowie's penalty was saved and Arsenal's Jordan Nobbs added a 3rd.
 A week after defeat to Arsenal and days after a Continental Cup exit on penalties against Lincoln, Liverpool travelled to the now top of the table Bristol Academy needing a win to go back top. Liverpool raced 3-1 ahead with goals from Louise Fors, Nicole Rolser and Katrin Omarsdottir before Bristol pulled it back to 3-3. With under 10 minutes to go the ball fell to Gemma Bonner 40 yards from goal, the Captain let the ball run a couple of yards in front of her before smashing it past the hapless keeper to score the most important goal of the season and win the game.
 The wins then kept on coming, although our next home game against Chelsea started in a similar fashion to that against Arsenal we fell 2 goals behind in 10 minutes. Fara Williams was the catalyst in rallying the troops, trying a couple of long-range efforts before being awarded a free kick in a great position and duly scoring from it as it bounced awkwardly under the Chelsea keeper. At half-time Matt Beard switched keepers, a move which looked to have paid off as Liverpool began to dominate and Nicole Rolser tapped in the equaliser from close range. Unfortunately Becky Easton deflected the ball into the back of her own net but huge credit to the reds never-say-die spirit, Natasha Dowie and Nicole Rolser setting each other up for another hard-earner 4-3 victory.

Celebrating Nicole Rolser's winner vs Chelsea

 The final two away trip of the season seen Liverpool score 13 goals and concede just 2, the first of those against Doncaster Belles were thanks to Natasha Dowie's first half hat-trick, a brace from Fara Williams and a goal each for Gemma Bonner and Louise Fors the Ladies went in 7-0 up against the Belles who had been reduced to 10 players. Nicole Rolser scored the 8th of the game following half-time and Kate Longhurst scored her first Liverpool goals to complete the 9-goal rout.

 One week later we were in Birmingham, where a Nicole Rolser hat-trick suddenly meant the threat to Natasha Dowie's Golden Boot came from within! Louise Fors also scored a brilliant free kick and although Birmingham managed to score twice it was Liverpool who capped an impressive away record in the league winning 6 and losing 1.

 For the last 3 league games, Liverpool had 3 home ties to look forward to to finish their season off. Doncaster Belles came to Halton Stadium on the back of their first league win and almost holding Arsenal to a draw, the difference in morale was evident and despite Liverpool winning 2-0 - goals from Natasha Dowie and Louise Fors - the Belles tested our defence with goalkeeper Rachael Laws having a storming game between the post to keep a clean sheet.

Rachael Laws v Doncaster

 Natasha Dowie scored a hat-trick against former club Everton in the last derby of the season, including a brilliant chip to equalise after Nikita Parris had put them in front. Dowie's 2nd put Liverpool in front for the first time during the match, before young Everton midfielder Parris scored her second, a fantastic goal to draw the score level. Gemma Bonner scored her second crucial goal of the season and Dowie completed her hat-trick for the final score to be Liverpool 4 - 2 Everton.

 Before the final game of the season, The FA announced that Arsenal Ladies were to be deducted 3 points thus making the last day fixture of Liverpool Ladies v Bristol Academy a straight shootout for the league title. It also confirmed that both sides will participate in the Champions League 2014/15, for Liverpool this will be the first time in our history.

 Onto the final day then, nerves were paramount - Liverpool needed just a point while Bristol needed to win. The Vixens brought a strong and vocal travelling support but Liverpool were the better team from the starting whistle. Bristol keeper Siobham Chamblerlain the sole reason the scoreline wasn't higher than it was. Nicole Rolser was brought down in the box for Louise Fors to cooly send her penalty past Chamberlain before Katrin Omarsdottir scored the final goal of the season, a Whitney Engen free kick was superbly knocked back by Natasha Dowie for the Icelandic midfielder to tie up the title for Liverpool.

The team celebrate Katrin's goal v Bristol Academy
The FA Cup

W 2 / D 0 / L 1

  Liverpool began their 2013 FA Cup run away at a muddy Aston Villa, thumping the midlands side 5-0 with a Fara Williams hat trick and goals from Natasha Dowie and Louise Fors.
 Next up was a tough test against Premier League champions Sunderland, Liverpool went ahead through Lillie Fenlon-Billson but Sunderland pulled a goal back. Minutes from time Icelandic midfielder Katrin Omarsdottir scored the winning goal to set up a semi final tie against Arsenal.
 The semi final was a memorable occasion for players and supporters alike, playing at Anfield for the first time the ladies put in a great shift and at times outplayed the strong Arsenal side. The gunners opened the scoring through Ellen White before Natasha Dowie scored a great diving header at the Kop end to bring the scores level before half time. Kim Little was Arsenal's match winner, taking them into the final with a goal from a counter attack on 52 minutes. Arsenal went on to lift the cup at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium a month later.

Natasha Dowie scores at The Kop
Continental Cup
W 2 / D 1 / L 0

 We began our first competitive home game of the season against Everton in a tie that was screened live on ESPN. Despite heavy snowfall the pitch was cleared in time for kick off and Liverpool went ahead through a Louise Fors penalty. Shortly after Everton won a dubious free kick decision which led to Nikita Parris equalising and the game finished in a 1-1 draw.
 In our next game against Doncaster Belles over a month later we created a lot of chances completely dominating the Belles but somehow managed to score just one goal, Natasha Dowie netting the only goal of the game to take our first 3 points in the competition.
 For the last group game Liverpool travelled to Chelsea to take on the Londoners for the second time in a week, this game followed our 2-1 defeat to them in the league. Liverpool were in inspired form, with Dowie scoring twice and Nicole Rolser and Fara Williams scoring one apiece. This ensured a 4-0 win and to place Liverpool above our Merseyside rivals Everton to finish top of the group. Finishing top means we will host the semi final against Lincoln Ladies at Halton Stadium on Wednesday 7th August.
 Despite dominating the semi-final and taking an early lead when Lucy Bronze set up Natasha Dowie, Liverpool were treated to a defensive masterclass from the Lady Imps as they invited Liverpool to attack and defended with their backs against the wall. After 120 minutes of football and a Lincoln equaliser, it was onto the dreaded penalty shootout. England Number 1 Karen Bardsley saved from both Natasha Dowie and Louise Fors to ensure the last game Lincoln Ladies play will be the Continental Cup final against Arsenal on Friday 4th October, their final game before being rebranded as Notts County.

During the penalty shootout
Player of the Season

 Natasha Dowie of course won the Official Supporters Player of the Year, however I also put a vote out on Twitter and Facebook for the purposes of this End of Season review. Below you can find a countdown of the Top 5 (with two ties in 2nd and 4th place!) and it is a testament to the squad Matt Beard has assembled that the majority of players were mentioned at least twice. For a Player by Player guide please see Part 2 of my This Is Anfield Champions Review.

 5: Gemma Bonner

Gemma Bonner with the league trophy

 Liverpool's inspirational leader, a rock at the back and calm under pressure. Earned a well-deserved England call up and made her debut against Turkey in September during the Lionesses 8-0 win.

 Highlight of the Season: THAT goal! With the scores tied at 3-3 and needing a goal from anywhere to go back top of the league, it was the Liverpool captain who scored the most important goal of the season and claiming the league Goal of the Month.

 4: Louise Fors/ Whitney Engen

Louise Fors after victory over Bristol
 Super Swede Louise Fors was our Player of the Season at the midway point and her displays haven't falted. Fors is such a classy player on the ball and it has been an honour to watch her play this season.
 Another player it has been an honour to watch has been Whitney Engen. Gemma Bonner's experienced partner at centre-back has produced brilliant performances over the course of the campaign, most notably in the derby in June. Merely 48 hours earlier Whitney had played 90 minutes in Canada for the USA, a game in which she was named Player of the Match. She then produced another Player of the Match winning performance against Everton.

Whitney Engen with the league trophy
 Highlight of the Season: Cool under pressure Louise Fors stood up to take the penalty against Bristol in the final game of the season - deservedly putting Liverpool ahead.
 Before Liverpool ran riot at the Emirates and while the score was still level at 0-0, Whitney Engen made the greatest goal line clearance I have seen to prevent Arsenal from taking the lead.
 3: Fara Williams

Fara Williams with the league trophy
 Fara Williams is a proven WSL midfielder who was one of many exciting new signings, Williams has been consistently brilliant for Liverpool throughout the season - netting a hat-trick on her debut in The FA Cup.
 Highlight of the Season: When Liverpool went 2-0 down in 10 minutes at home against Chelsea, it was Fara who rallied the troops and was a major part in winning Liverpool the crucial game.

 2: Lucy Bronze/ Nicole Rolser

Nicole Rolser (L) with Corina Schroder & their medals

 Another tie at second place, Nicole Rolser has been a thorn in the side of every team faced this season. Able to play on the left, right, through the middle and at times appearing to occupy all 3 positions at once. Nicole is the WSL and Liverpool's 2nd highest scorer and has also provided as many (if not more) assists as she has goals.

 Lucy Bronze is a player who has just gotten better and better over the course of the season. Lucy started the year on the bench but forced her way into the starting 11, she has also deputised at centre back in the absence of both Whitney Engen and Gemma Bonner. Bronze has bags of energy and spends the entire 90 minutes racing up and down the right wing regularly assisting the attack.

Lucy Bronze celebrating winning the league!

 Highlight of the Season: A wonderfully taken hat-trick in Liverpool's last away game of the season at Birmingham City meant Nicole Rolser finished her first season in England second in both Liverpool and the league's goalscoring charts. Rolser also scored twice past Birmingham in the home fixture back in June.

Lucy Bronze has enjoyed a great season at right back assisting goals along the way, including Natasha Dowie's strike in the first minute against Lincoln. In August's 2-0 home victory over Doncaster Belles Bronze cleverly skipped past a number of Belles, cutting into the box to set up Louise Fors for the second goal. Has one goal to her name this year after netting a thumping header against Birmingham in June.

 1. Natasha Dowie

Natasha Dowie meets the league trophy

 Supporters Player of the Season, FAWSL Golden Boot winner, Liverpool's top scorer and now LFCLadiesFans Player of the Season! The accolades keep on coming for Natasha Dowie who deservedly topped the vote, her performances this season have been a revelation.

 An incredible signing for Liverpool Ladies, Natasha scored 19 times in 21 appearances - when you take into account that last season the whole team managed 19 goal between them that feat becomes all the more impressive. Dowie's 19 strikes have come in all shapes and sizes - with her head, tap-in's, cheeky chips and perfectly taken goals in one-on-one's with the keeper.

 With 10 goals by the midway point of the season it was both a shock and a disgrace that Natasha was not included in England's squad for the Euro's. Following Hope Powell's sacking however Dowie has featured in both England games under interim manager Brent Hills and has scored in each of those games.

 As well as being a proven goalscorer, Natasha works incredibly hard for the rest of the team, her hold up play is unrivalled and she sets up almost as many goals as she scores - most notably the last goal of the season as she cleverly knocked Whitney Engen's free kick into the path of the oncoming Katrin Omarsdottir.

 Highlight of the Season: Impossible to choose just one, scoring against the Kop at Anfield, a hat-trick against former club Everton, a brilliantly chipped goal against Chelsea, setting up Katrin for the final goal of the season, scoring her first England goal, a strike in the 4-0 win at the Emirates and winning the WSL's Golden Boot.

 Goal of the Season

 At the midway stage of the season, Amanda Da Costa's first goal versus Arsenal was our Goal of the Season. Since the break (and although Da Costa's goal is still one of my personal favourites) there has been many more fantastic strikes. See below for a countdown of the Top 5!

 5. Fara Williams' 2nd vs Doncaster Belles


 4. Amanda Da Costa's 1st vs Arsenal (07/05/13).


 3. Natasha Dowie's 1st vs Everton (12/09/13).


 2. Katrin Omarsdottir vs Bristol Academy (10/08/13).


 1. Gemma Bonner vs Bristol Academy (10/08/13).


The Rest of the League

 2. Bristol Academy

 Bristol Academy are a credit to the WSL, boasting brilliant gates and travelling support throughout the season. They also have one of the leagues best strikers in Natalia who has been brilliant for the Vixens since her winter move. Goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain is another highlight in the team and is the only player (over the entire league) to play every minute of every game over the last 3 seasons.

 3. Arsenal Ladies

 A disappointing season for Arsenal Ladies by their own high standards, a 3 point deduction for fielding an ineligible player in their 3-0 win over us meant for the first time in 10 years they would not be the top team in English Women's Football and lost a place in the 2014/15 Champions League. Despite the league campaign Arsenal added The FA Cup and the Continental Cup to their trophy cabinet. The future is also bright for the Gunners, a number of their young players have had great seasons - Jordan Nobbs and Danielle Carter - and from next year they will switch to training 4 times a week.

 4. Birmingham City

 Last years runners up also had a disappointing season, an early mauling at home from Arsenal set the tone for the blues campaign and they were all but out of the battle for the Champions League spots by the time the European Championships came around. Performances after the break did improve slightly as Birmingham tried out their youth including impressive Melissa Lawley - surprisingly dropping lead scorer Rachel Williams to the bench, Williams barely featured in the final few games.

 5. Everton Ladies

Everton's Nikita Parris
 Another team in the WSL that have relied heavily on youth, Everton have been a little unlucky with some results this season - playing out 0-0 draws at home with Doncaster Belles and Birmingham City and a strongly contested 4-3 loss to Bristol. Nikitta Parris is a future England star along with young keeper Lizzie Durack (who is now at College in the USA), Toni Duggan is the toffees leading striker and scored her first England hat-trick in the 8-0 victory over Turkey in September.

 6. Lincoln Ladies

 From next season Lincoln Ladies will be rebranded as Notts County and will be training 5 times a week. Poor league form has been countered by a good run in the Continental Cup, where the Lady Imps beat us on penalties to reach the final. Lincoln have been criticised this season for 'parking the bus' on a number of occasions but they have a defensive game plan which is generally executed to perfection - most notably versus us in the semi and during two displays against Arsenal. Like Bristol, Lincoln enjoy a brilliant travelling support and it will be interesting to see what happens next year with their transformation.

 7. Chelsea Ladies

 Over the winter Chelsea were almost as active as Liverpool in the transfer window, signing world class players such as Sofia Jakobsson and Brazilian Ester. Unlike Liverpool however, Chelsea failed to make it work on the pitch. Even signing World Cup winner Yuki Ogimi couldn't help to spark their season and they finished second from bottom, Jakobsson and Ester left before the season end citing poor training facilities as the main reason.

 8. Doncaster Belles

 Told after just one game of the campaign that no matter the course of their season, they would be relegated to next years newly formed WSL 2. The plucky Belles set about wanting to prove the FA wrong but no doubt were distracted by matters off the pitch. The Belles Noisy Fans (noisy by name and nature!) have been a credit to the club, unwavering in their loyal support and dedication. Hopefully we will see Doncaster bounce straight back up to the top tier.

 Next Season

 Next season sees the introduction of a second tier to the Women's Super League. A welcome addition which will allow promotion and relegation between the two leagues. Two new entrants into the top tier are the aforementioned Notts County and Manchester City. The rumours have already started flying around about who City may be signing and with both sides due to be training full-time they will definitely add competition to the WSL.

Becky Easton lifts the league trophy in front of The Kop

 Liverpool will begin next season as defending Champions and also have the Champions League 2014/15. If we can keep the majority of the squad together then next year could be even bigger for us, the taste of being Champions and having a year of playing together should work in our favour and it would be nice to add another trophy to our league title.

 Liverpool Ladies Development Squad

 While the first team's season is now over, the development squad's has just begun. They kicked off their season last Sunday at home with a 3-1 victory over Doncaster Belles. Follow @LFCLadies for news on when the dev. squad will be playing, I will also hopefully share their results on @LFCLadiesFans and am hoping to get to a few of their games!

 Their next game is in the cup away at Manchester City, full details of the league and upcoming games can be found here: FA Development League.

 All Liverpool upcoming games.

 Liverpool Development Squad.


 A few thank yous to round off this End of Season Review, first thanks for reading it and congratulations if you got this far! Thanks to everyone who follows on Twitter, I have had a great time this season meeting new friends and introducing old friends to the world of women's football.

 Thanks to the whole team and coaching staff for a great season!

 Thanks to Matt and Max at This Is Anfield for giving me a great opportunity to write about the Ladies for their website. All my articles for TIA can be found here: Liverpool Ladies.

 Thanks to David Cottrell and Kelsey Maxwell from LFC magazine for featuring the blog in the magazine, very surreal moment to get a magazine you've bought since you were 11 that features yourself!

 On twitter I will hopefully be able to provide news on the Ladies over the off-season, be that international duty, any new signings etc.

 Thanks again for reading!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Match Report: Liverpool 2 - 0 Bristol Academy

 This season the Liverpool Ladies have been nothing short of outstanding, fantastic team spirit and performances meant they went into this final day battle with Bristol Academy needing only a point to be crowned Champions.

 Bristol got us underway and it was a nervy opening from both sides, Fara Williams had the first chance of the game but her shot went over the crossbar.

 Natasha Dowie and Nicole Rolser were really linking up well on the left side, playing neat one-twos and creating a few chances. Rolser cut straight through the middle of the Bristol midfield at one point but the return pass from Dowie was cut out.

 The Vixens brought a vocal travelling 'Smurf Army' who can be proud of their teams goalkeeper, Siobhan Chamberlain the sole reason the final scoreline was less than what it could of been with a string of fine saves - including a fingertip save from Rolser that many believed was in.

 After a lot of Liverpool pressure the Bristol defence started to creak, Fara Williams seen a strike hit the post. The frustrated defence then produced simutaneous fouls, nothing came from the first free kick however Nicole Rolser was then brought down in the box.

 Liverpool are lucky to have a penalty taker like Louise Fors in the team, cool under pressure the super Swede stepped up to make it one-nil to the reds.

 Following the Liverpool goal Bristol were re-motivated, only 3 points for them would win the league. Laura Del Rio cheekily attempted lobbing Rachael Laws. An attempt that went close but thankfully wide.

 For the first 5-10 minutes of the second half, Bristol were pushing on trying to break through the rock solid defence of Whitney Engen and Gemma Bonner. The duo sat tight and did a brilliant job keeping Bristol's Spanish duo of Natalia and Del Rio quiet.

 The game was mostly being fought in the middle of the park, Katrin Omarsdottir and Fara Williams managed to keep on top controlling the battle. Amanda Da Costa again proving to be the most determined player on the pitch and again giving 110% in the red shirt.

 In the final 20 minutes, the chances flowed for Liverpool. Natasha Dowie and Amanda Da Costa seen headers just wide of the post, while an offside was given against Dowie when she was through on goal which I'm not too sure of - I haven't seen any replays yet!

 Katrin Omarsdottir then scored to make it 2-0 to Liverpool and put us firmly in the driving seat, Katrin had had an earlier chance at a corner but was unlucky not to be able to control her header. Natasha Dowie provided the assist with a brilliant knock back from a free kick.

 During the final 10 minutes goal-scorer Louise Fors, Corina Schroder and Fara Williams made way for Sarah Gregorius, Becky Easton and Jess Holbrook and Liverpool held their resolves to win the win by 36 points - a new record in the WSL.

 Liverpool's performance on the day deserved a bigger goal margain, but again credit to Siobhan Chamberlain who has been fantastic for Bristol all season.

 POTM Nicole Rolser

 Laws, Schroder (Easton), Bonner (c), Engen, Bronze, Omarsdottir, Williams (Holbrook), Fors (Gregorius), Da Costa, Rolser, Dowie

 Attendance today was 2,165 - absolutely amazing & our record crowd! Hopefully the majority will be back next season.

 This season has flown by - particulary the second half. I have had an incredible time running this blog, the twitter and writing for This Is Anfield. Thank you to everyone who reads and follows! Do stick with me throughout the off-season, although the Ladies season is over I'll be bringing you news from the international games - Sarah Gregorius and New Zealand have a huge game against Whitney Engen's USA and England also have another World Cup Qualifer coming up which hopefully will have some of our players involved. Whitney is also off to Sweden to play for Tyreso so will be bringing you her results from there!

 The End of Season review will be online over the next week, unfortunately last night my laptop died (which is why I'm now sat in the Uni library, Bonner shirt on and Engen's boots next to me typing this up) but I will have it on as soon as it's done! If you haven't already then do vote for your Player of the Season, so far the frontrunners are Natasha Dowie, Nicole Rolser, Lucy Bronze and Whitney Engen.

 Thank you again, see you next season!


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Press Conference: Liverpool Ladies v Bristol Academy

 Usually a couple of days before the game I post a match preview on this blog, for this game however you can find my match preview on This Is Anfield and a shorter version on Empire Of The Kop!

 Instead of the usual match preview on here then, I am going to post a transcript of this afternoons press conference from Melwood with Matt Beard, Amanda Da Costa and Whitney Engen.

Q: Matt, you only need a point to win the Women's Super League title but knowing your philosophy you'll be bound to win this game - won't you?

Matt Beard: Yeah of course, I think it would be a dangerous game plan if we go out and set up not to get the 3 points. There is a lot at stake on the day and we'll be prepared and going for the win. 

Q: People have to remember that you inherited a team that was bottom of the league, now you're on the verge of the title. What do you put this incredible transformation down to?

MB: The players more than anything else. We give the players a structure and as a group, with me and the staff, there's a lot of communication with us and the players. The players deserve the credit because they are the ones that cross that white line and produce some of the performances they have produced this year and it's been a pleasure to watch.

Q: Amanda, how important going into this game is it to know that you have already qualified for the Champions  League next season?

Amanda Da Costa: Right now our focus is solely on the game and winning the league, Champions League is an extra bonus but we're hoping we'll be able to celebrate it all at the end of the season. One thing at a time and right now Sunday is our goal.

Q: Whitney, the team spirit has been spoken about many a time this season. How big a factor is that in your success so far?

Whitney Engen: I think it's a really important factor especially in women's football. We came in early this year and spent a lot of time together as a team, we've really developed a strong bond. It's easy for teams to say 'we fight for each other' and 'we believe in each other', this is actually a team that I have been on that that actually rings true and we do fight for each other. It's been a lot of fun to be able to experience that. 

Q: Matt, I know you're good friends with the Bristol manager Mark Sampson, have you exchanged any banter with him ahead of this one?

MB: We had a conversation yesterday, but no we've got to focus on Sunday. I'm sure we'll have one or two words after the game. It's going to be an exciting game for both of us and without the pressure now with both having qualified for the Champions League, we can just concentrate on winning the game. 

Q: Matt, how important is the title for the club, as the club is now one entity, how important is it for Liverpool to win this title?

MB: Our targets at the start of the year were to finish in the top half of the table and build for the second year. So for us to be where we are is a good achievement because obviously we're in this business to win trophies and to win football matches so I think it's important for me, the staff, the players and especially the club as well. 

Q: How integral has that investment at the start of the season been for the success this season?

MB: It's been fantastic, the resources of coming here [Melwood] at times and the manager's allowed me to come and watch the first team train so that's helped my development. We've got great facilities at the Academy and we've got the resources from people behind the scenes which goes unnoticed a little bit, but it's fantastic it is a one club mentality. It's not them and us, everyone works together.

Q: Amanda, did you follow last weeks Doncaster-Bristol game?

ADC: Yeah, I think we all were keeping an eye on it and again we know regardless we have one more game left in this season, it wouldn't be a complete season without this game coming up. Football's a funny game with strange things at times and we're fortunate to still be in this position and ready to get a win on Sunday.

Q: Matt, obviously you've got some key players involved in a World Cup qualifier for England tonight including leading scorer Natasha Dowie and inspirational captain Gemma Bonner. For you is that a case of fingers crossed they will come back fine for Sunday?

MB: Yeah a little bit! We've had 8 away over the last week and this week, the preparation has been a little disjointed. Hopefully everyone gets through their games tonight and we'll regroup on Saturday morning to focus and prepare for the game on Sunday.

Q: Whitney, you obviously earlier on in the season before you began the campaign had the opportunity to go with the squad to  Melwood, to meet Brendan Rodgers, Steven Gerrard and train with the first team. How much of a big experience was that for you all?

WE: I actually didn't get to partake in that, I was away on international duty with the national team but in speaking with the girls it was a phenomenal opportunity. Especially being welcomed into this club and it really gave us the confidence that Liverpool was behind the women's team and that we are one club. From speaking with the girls it was a phenomenal experience and definitely one that I am sorry to have missed out on. 

Q: Coming over to Liverpool from America at the start of the season, along with Amanda, how incredible a season has it been for you - has it in many ways exceeded your expectations?

WE: I would say that I expected it to be a great season, a great team especially with what was being put together behind the scenes at Liverpool. So I wouldn't say that it has exceeded my expectations but I would say that my expectations have been met, I knew that this would be a team that was going to be able to compete for a title and that's something that I wanted to be part of and I have had a phenomenal time in my experience here.

Q: Matt, when you consider Arsenal have dominated for a long time, how much credit do you feel yourselves and Bristol deserve for setting up what is perhaps the most exciting finish to a Women's Super League season?

MB: It's been an interesting season, there's been a lot of changes. Arsenal lost their manager, we've invested heavily and Bristol year in and year out seem to progress as a football club on and off the pitch. I'm not surprised Bristol are where they are, they've got a fantastic goal scorer in Sanchon so if you look at our goal scoring record this year and the amount of players that have scored goals, I think that's been an important factor for both teams that we've got players that can score goals.

Q: There is one player, Amanda, that can score goals - Natasha Dowie, 19 goals in 20 appearances. That's pretty phenomenal?

ADC: Yeah she's done amazing things for this team and credit to her she just keeps getting better and better every game. Part of that has to do with the team as a whole getting used to each other, when we came in no one knew each other. We were all different, at least Whitney and I especially because we're not from England but we've done a great job gelling together and it definitely shows every single game. [Natasha] is getting better, we all are getting better and she's done big things for us this year.

Q: The first team are playing this Sunday at 4pm, for those Liverpool fans not travelling to Sunderland if they were to come down and support what would that mean to you all?

ADC: It would mean the world to us, we've worked incredibly hard this season and we have amazing fans that come and support us every single game. Halton is a pretty big stadium, it doesn't feel that big when we're out there and we have that support so we're looking to bring The Kop to Halton. Hopefully everyone can come out and support us it would be amazing and a good end to the season.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

International Reds

 Before the season finale next Sunday against Bristol Academy, a few Liverpool Ladies are away with their national teams.

 England have Fara Williams, Lucy Bronze, Gemma Bonner and Natasha Dowie amongst their ranks while Sarah Gregorius is away with New Zealand.

 Below is the schedule for these games;

 Saturday 21st September 

 England v Belarus, World Cup Qualifier

 1pm KO, Goldsands Stadium, Bournemouth

 Sunday 22nd September

 Brazil v New Zealand, Valais Cup

 3:30pm KO, Stade de Lussy, Chatel-St-Denis

 Thursday 26th September

 England v Turkey, World Cup Qualifier 

 7:05pm KO, Fratton Park, Portsmouth


 *New Zealand will also play a second game on Wednesday 25th September, the time and opposition are TBC

 For more information on the Valais Cup click here.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Liverpool Ladies: Road to The Champions League

 Earlier today The FA announced that due to Arsenal Ladies fielding an unregistered player during their 3-0 league win over us in August, they were to be deducted 3 points. This means Liverpool Ladies and Bristol Academy have both qualified for the 2014/ 2015 UEFA Women's Champions League ahead of the title showdown on Sunday 29th September.

 Here are 5 key moments from Liverpool's season that have led to Champions League qualification for the first time in our history:

 Winter Signings

 Liverpool's winter signings showed a real statement of intent from the club as they invested in many top class players. 

 Just two days after last seasons final day defeat to Doncaster Belles, the club announced the signing of US international Whitney Engen. Engen is a world class central defender and following her move to Liverpool has forced her way into contention for the US Women's National Team starting 11.

 A week later Liverpool released 10 players and began the rebuild, first signing Engen's centre back partner-to-be Gemma Bonner from Chelsea and then launching a raid on local rivals Everton. Making the move across Merseyside was England international Fara Williams, Becky Easton, Lucy Bronze and Natasha Dowie

 Over the following months Liverpool captured the talents of European players including Swedish star Louise Fors, Icelandic Katrin Omarsdottir and German duo Corina Schroder and Nicole Rolser.

 Amanda Da Costa and Jess Holbrook completed the summer transformation and Liverpool were ready for a new challenge in the WSL.

 Arsenal Ladies 0 - 4 Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool travelled to Arsenal's Emirates Stadium a couple of weeks after the Gunners knocked them out of The FA Cup at Anfield. 

 With the scores level at 0 - 0, Whitney Engen produced a fine goal line clearance to prevent Arsenal taking the lead. Fellow American Amanda Da Costa scored either side of half time, her first a brilliant strike from outside the box after switching the ball onto her left foot. 

 Louise Fors and Natasha Dowie also scored during the second half, causing Arsenal's first league defeat in almost 2 years and many to question whether Arsenals reign at the top of women's football was coming to an end. 

 Bristol Academy 3 - 4 Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool's Champions League hopes took a slight hit following the mid-season break, Arsenal appearing to hit form at just the right time and Bristol sat top of the table after beating Everton 3-2 the weekend before.

 Despite having the better chances of the two teams Liverpool fell a goal behind, Nicole Rolser then won a penalty after being pushed in the box which Louise Fors confidently slotted past Siobhan Chamberlain. Rolser herself then scored the equaliser on the brink of half time.

 Katrin Omarsdottir gave Liverpool a 2-goal cushion early in the second half with a thundering strike that went in off the crossbar. Unfortunately Bristol were able to pull the score level, Spanish duo Laura Del Rio and Natalia grabbing a goal each.

 Into the final 10 minutes it was Liverpool's Captain Fantastic Gemma Bonner who popped up with the crucial winner (and the FAWSL's August Goal of the Month) to gift the reds those all important 3 points and take us back to the top of the league.

 Doncaster Belles 0 - 9 Liverpool Ladies

 With Arsenal closing in on our goal difference after a couple of tight 4-3 victories for Liverpool, this 9-0 thrashing of the Belles set the goal difference advantage firmly back in Liverpool's court.

 7-0 up at half time with goals from Gemma Bonner, Louise Fors, a double from Fara Williams and the first of two league hat tricks for leading goal scorer Natasha Dowie. 

 Easing up slightly after the second half, Nicole Rolser added to her tally for the season and summer signing Kate Longhurst scored her first Liverpool goal to complete the rout.

 Liverpool Ladies 4 - 2 Everton Ladies

 A Merseyside derby is always a special occasion, but this victory was extra sweet sending Liverpool into the final game of the season against Bristol knowing a draw or a win would see us crowned Women's Super League Champions for the first time.

 Natasha Dowie's superb hat trick and a thundering header from Gemma Bonner secured the 3 points for Liverpool.

 At this point their was still an outside chance that we would not make the Champions League, if on the final day of the season Bristol beat us 2-0 and Arsenal won 5-0 at Everton then Liverpool would finish 3rd in the league and outside of the European spots.

 Today's news then means that both Liverpool and Bristol are guaranteed Champions League football for 2014/ 15 and the final game of the season will be the title decider.

 Liverpool Ladies vs Bristol Academy will be played at the Select Security Stadium, Widnes (otherwise known as Halton Stadium). Anfield ST holders get free entry to all Ladies home games, alternatively Adult tickets are £5, Concessions £2.50 and children get in free with a paying adult.

 Thanks for reading, it's been a great season for Liverpool Ladies and no matter what happens on the final day of the season Liverpool need to be congratulated on their fantastic effort and commitment this season.