Wednesday 23 March 2016

Chamberlain is the star as Liverpool edge past Blues

Birmingham City miss two penalties in narrow defeat to Liverpool on opening night of FA WSL 1

FA WSL 1 match
19:30, Wednesday 23 March 2016
Select Security Stadium

Liverpool Ladies FC Goal Scorers: Van De Sanden 8'

Liverpool goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain was the star of the show as she saved a penalty and saw another go wide during her side’s FA Women’s Super League opener against Birmingham City Ladies.

Kirsty Linnett and Freda Ayisi both missed penalties as Birmingham lost at ten-man Liverpool on the opening day, with Chamberlain saving the first of the spot kicks.

While Shanice van de Sanden scored the decisive goal on her league debut and Liverpool held on despite Mandy van den Berg’s red card with 20 minutes remaining.

“It was definitely a much busier game than I expected,” said Chamberlain.”You don’t expect to have the one penalty to face in a game, let alone two. But to get the clean sheet and the three points is a great way to start the league season.

“I’m definitely pleased we’ve got the clean sheet, but from a team point of view we could have gone on to score more.

“It was a very positive performance and we have to take those positives into a big game against Chelsea on Monday, which we’re looking forward to now.

“The first penalty I couldn’t see from where I was, but the second there’s no way it’s a penalty. It’s come off Mandy, and it was a great challenge, and hopefully for her she can get that rescinded.

“As time goes on, we will gel more as players. It is difficult when there are so many new players but we showed, with our backs against the wall and down to ten players that we will fight for each other and battle right to the end.

“Birmingham are a very good side, and very physical but we matched that and we matched their work rate.”

Linnett could have put Birmingham in front from the spot after just five minutes, when Sophie Ingle was penalised for handball, Siobhan Chamberlain saved low to her left.

And the Blues were ruing the miss three minutes later, when Van de Sanden beat Sophie Baggaley to Kate Longhurst’s crossfield pass and bundled in.

Natasha Harding could have doubled the lead on the hour, when Van de Sanden squared, but Baggaley was out fast to charge the shot down.

Harding was in again on 69 minutes, from Katie Zelem’s lobbed pass, but Aoife Mannion got a vital touch as she shaped to shoot.

Birmingham had another penalty moments later, when Van den Berg brought Melissa Lawley down in the area – for which she was sent off – but Ayisi dragged the spot-kick wide.

Chamberlain then saved twice from Linnett on 89 minutes as Liverpool held on for three points.

Birmingham midfielder said: “We can definitely take a lot of positives from the game and we were just unlucky. Obviously we missed two penalties but we also had a few more scoring opportunities. I think it was an all-round great performance from us, except we just need to put the ball in the back of the net.

“It is doubly disappointing, having lost on penalties at the weekend too, but we have to take the positives from the performance.

“The atmosphere in the changing room is really good at the moment. There’s a lot of positivity in the group and I think it’s showing on the pitch as well. The atmosphere in the changing room’s good, particularly after the performance we put in against Arsenal and now Liverpool.”

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Liverpool (4-3-3): Siobhan Chamberlain; Martha Harris, Gemma Bonner, Mandy van den Berg, Alex Greenwood; Sophie Ingle, Kate Longhurst, Katie Zelem; Shanice van de Sanden, Emma Lundh, Natasha Harding

Substitutes: Caroline Weir for Lundh 75, Laura Coombs for Zelem 80, Rosie White for Harding 90

Substitutes not used: Danielle Gibbons, Maz Pacheco, Ashley Hodson, Mollie Green

Bookings: none

Red Cards: Mandy van den Berg 69

Birmingham City (5-3-2): Sophie Baggaley; Alex Windell, Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Meaghan Sargeant Jessica Carter; Chloe Peplow, Jo Potter, Melissa Lawley; Freda Ayisi, Kirsty Linnett.

Substitutes: Emily Westwood for Windell 63, Charlie Wellings for Mannion 75, Coral Haines for Peplow 83

Substitutes not used: Sian Johnson, Abbyleigh Stringer, Connie Schofield, Cheryl Edwards

Bookings: none

Red Cards: none

Referee: Scott Oldham

Attendance: 507