Sunday 24 July 2011
In an entertaining game, a brave Liverpool team were beaten 3 0 by league champions Arsenal ladies on a hot afternoon at the Boreham Wood ground.
Both teams started brightly. Liverpool looked assured in possession but Arsenal posed a threat on the counter-attack with England duo Ellen White and Rachel Yankey playing particularly well. In the 11th minute Liverpool’s Suzanne Lappin headed just wide after some nice play on the right side. Arsenal hit back soon after with Kim Little firing close after a fine solo run. Heading past the 15 minute mark Arsenal began to take control of the game forcing Liverpool back although the defence were soaking up the pressure well. Liverpool began to creep back into the game but in the 29th minute a wayward pass by Lynda Shepherd was intercepted and Rachel Yankee was put through and forced a superb save from Danielle Gibbons in the Liverpool net. Two minutes later Gibbons was again called to action as Ellen White shot tamely from a tight angle.
The pressure was mounting on Liverpool and the breakthrough for Arsenal was imminent. After a nice interchange on the wide right Kim Little launched a fierce low shot that was well saved by Gibbons however, the ball trickled toward the far post and was poked in by the number 10, Jordan Nobbs. After the goal Liverpool settled well and continued to battle until half-time but Arsenal still looked like the team more likely to score.
It was Arsenal who started the second half better with a trio of chances within the first 8 minutes of the half, with Yankey coming closest with a well-hit freekick from about 23 yards. Liverpool improved and the game was fought on level terms for a time until the 63rd minute when Arsenal netted again. After some neat passes 10 yards outside the Liverpool penalty area the ball broke to the ever-troublesome Yankey on the left who fired low only to see her shot deflected and loop over the helpless Danielle Gibbons. The game slowed after the goal but Arsenal still looked more dangerous, especially on the counter.
Liverpool continued to defend well and restricted Arsenal to speculative shots from range and half-chances with Danielle Gibbons showing her class in the 85th minute saving comfortably from an Ellen White diving header. Praise must be handed to Gibbons who had a very good game in the Liverpool net. She remained calm when under pressure and her handling of the ball was consistently of a high standard. The final goal came in the 90th minute as Kim Little was played through and remained cool to slot past the on-rushing Gibbons but the overall scoreline should not detract from what was an excellent performance by the young keeper.
“At the end I felt the final goal was unfortunate for the players. When we were 2-0 down I felt we still had a chance.” Said Liverpool manager Robbie Johnson. “Arsenal held the territorial advantage and in the second half we were tiring because of the heat.” And of young Danielle Gibbons' performance he continued, “She was by far our best player. In the first half she only had a few saves from Arsenal half-chances but in the second half, particularly, she had more to do and handled it well.”
By Daniel Broda.