Goals from Ellen White and Jess Clarke were enough for Notts County to hold onto the win against a dominant Liverpool team who failed to take their chances.
Early openings for both, but White finds the opener
Liverpool started brighter than their hosts, settling into the game from the whistle. An early chance fell to Rosie White but the New Zealand international could only put her first-time shot over the top of Carly Telford’s goal. Shanice van de Sanden was next to come close for the visitors, beating Sophie Bradley-Auckland to the ball. She got a big toe to it before the defender, though her shot was just a whisker wide of the post.
The Reds dominated possession but a counter from Jess Clarke,ing away from her marker, should have been an early warning; Notts could use the width of the pitch and hit them on the break.
Liverpool didn’t heed the warning and were undone less than 15 minutes into the game. Rachel Yankey made a strong run on the right side of the pitch, cutting into the box and opting to pass the ball across the area. Her no-look-pass paid off as the ball found Ellen White, the striker tripped over the ball as she bundled it past Siobhan Chamberlain. Notts were a goal up after having seen very little of the ball.
Clarke makes it two before the break
The goal put a spring in the step of the home side, they grew with confidence and started to press the Liverpool defence; Lianne Crichton skimmed the top of the bar with an effort from distance.
Shanice van de Sanden continued to threaten heavily for the Reds, her pace caused all sorts of problems across the Notts defence but Liverpool still couldn’t find a final ball.
Jess Clarke doubled the host’s advantage with ten minutes left in the first half, keeping the ball alive and getting away from Mandy van den Berg to cut into the box. Her curler dropped just under the bar and landed in the top corner. An unstoppable shot from County’s biggest goal threat. Somehow, Liverpool were two goals down.
At the other end Liverpool were still looking for their first goal. Laura Coombs had a chance on the break but White got back with a perfectly timed slide tackle as the attacker shaped to shoot, following a perfectly weighted cross from Natasha Harding.
Liverpool pass up huge chance to level
There was ust one change at half time. Bradley-Auckland - who’d gone head first into the post in the first half - was replaced by Maja Krantz.
Liverpool were visibly improved in the second half, still bossing possession but starting to do more with the ball. The ref blew up for a penalty just before the hour. Amy Turner went to ground to win the ball off of van de Sanden, after the defender won the ball but took the attacker out on the follow through.
Caroline Weir, who’d been in great form as of late, was the one tasked with penalty duty. The Scottish international leaned back as she struck, the ball lifting over the bar. Notts breathed a sigh of relief, Liverpool thought it just wasn’t their day.
White strikes again, but Zelem hands Liverpool late hope
Just two minutes later Dani Buet sent the ball long for White - who was beginning to cut a lone figure - to chase. The striker latched onto the ball and ran into the box, tying Gemma Bonner in a knot before blasting the ball into the net. A goal thoroughly against the run of play, Liverpool stunned.
Scott Rogers opted to bring on new signings Emma Lundh and former Notts County star, Alex Greenwood. The substitutes added more life to the Reds, still dominating the ball but carving more and more chances.
With just five minutes left to play Liverpool were awarded a second penalty. Amy Turner once again won the ball but went through the attacker with her follow through; a yellow card for her troubles, too. With Weir having been replaced, Katie Zelem was the next in line over the spot-kick.
The young midfielder coolly finished into the waiting net after Telford had dived the wrong way. Zelem added a second just two minutes later, keeping the ball alive after a lofted free kick and found the far bottom corner from a tight angle; the comeback was well and truly on.
Liverpool were finally reaping the rewards from their dominance as they surged forward searching for an equaliser; the Notts defence buckling, unfocused and shaky. Even with three minutes of time added on it just wasn’t enough for the Reds and they left Meadow Lane empty-handed.