1-0, min. 31, Charles.
FAWSL1 - Liverpool 1-0 Birmingham City: Reds take all three points in feisty Saturday night battle

FAWSL1 - Liverpool 1-0 Birmingham City: Reds take all three points in feisty Saturday night battle

Liverpool Ladies took all three points in their WSL1 encounter with Birmingham City

Hannah Roberts
LiverpoolChamberlain, Harris, Stoney, Bonner, Ingle, Longhurst, Coombs, England (Hodson, min. 80), Charles, Greenwood, Harding
Birmingham CityHampton, Williams (Hegerberg, min. 77), Sargeant, Carter, Ayisi (Linden, min. 86), Stringer (Follis, min. 88), Wellings, Williams, Mannion, Ladd, Quinn
REFEREED. McNamara. Bookings: Longhurst (min. 80), Ayisi (min. 81)
INCIDENTSFAWSL1 match between Liverpool and Birmingham City held at Halton Stadium, Widnes. 843 spectators.

Niamh Charles was the match-winner as Liverpool picked up all three points in a cagey encounter with Birmingham City.

Chances were hard to come by for both sides but Charles' first-half lob over Hannah Hampton proved to be the vital moment.

Both teams find their feet

The match's first chance of note came from some incisive play from Birmingham City; Lucy Quinn found herself with enough space to whip in a cross from the left-hand side, and her teammate Freda Ayisi should have done better with the header from close-range, which she deflected up and over the crossbar.

Around the quarter-hour mark there was a flurry of chances. First, Reds midfielder Sophie Ingle deflected a cross past her own keeper but luckily for her, also over the crossbar; Liverpool broke from the resultant Birmingham corner, but Natasha Harding did teammate Bethany England a disservice with the through-ball which took her too wide to get an effort away. Birmingham hit back with a chance of their own as Ayisi powered past Casey Stoney, but Siobhan Chamberlain got down low to save her goalbound effort.

Liverpool gain the advantage

After a relatively quiet half hour the opening goal from Liverpool came as a bit of a surprise to everyone - including Birmingham's backline. Reds centre-half Gemma Bonner lifted a ball over the top and Niamh Charles darted straight through the defence to dink the ball over the onrushing keeper.

There was almost an identical goal in the opposite direction ten minutes later as the ball held up kindly in the turf for Charlie Wellings but the youngster's lob was not as deft as Charles', the shot spraying wide.

The best bit of play in the half game from the hosts just before half-time, Martha Harris wasted the well-weighted through-ball from Laura Coombs, blasting her effort well wide.

Goalless second half

After putting their noses in front before half-time, Liverpool really should have had more breathing space as they squandered two good chances after the restart. England will wonder how she didn't score her first league goal in red after she expertly brought down Charles' cross in space before firing well over. Moments later Harding got on the end of a cross but with plenty of bodies in the box the ball was pushed away.

Birmingham huffed and puffed as they searched for an equaliser; both Paige Williams and Hayley Ladd had a crack from just outside the box but neither could keep their effort down.

Fireworks were going off outside the ground as the match drew to a close but there were no fireworks inside the stadium, despite Birmingham's best efforts. The visitors put many crosses in and bodies forward but ultimately didn't have enough to get past Chamberlain and her defence.

Liverpool have moved up to third in the table but this may only be temporary as there are three games to be played tomorrow. Birmingham remain in the bottom half, with only one win from their opening five games.