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Liverpool FC Women 1, Manchester United 0: Reds gain lead for fourth spot

Liverpool: Clark 45+3′
Manchester United:

Pre-match

Liverpool are on a high after beating reigning WSL champions Chelsea in a thrilling 4-3 match on Wednesday. The Reds host rivals Manchester United in the final home game and penultimate game of the season. Liverpool and Manchester United are level on points for fourth place in the table, so anything short of a draw would go a long way towards securing the spot for both sides. This will be the last game at Prenton Park as Liverpool announced a ten-year deal to play at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St. Helen’s from next season.

Matt Beard names an unchanged starting XI from the team that defeated Chelsea. However, the bench comes up short with both Missy Bo Kearns and Jasmine Matthews being surprise absentees.

First half

After a cagey opening few minutes, Manchester United gets the first chance of the match. Leah Galton is played through and she uses her pace to keep Grace Fisk behind her. She takes a shot as she enters the penalty area and Teagan Micah does well to go down to save.

Liverpool shows a lot of energy and their own good ball movements. Ceri Holland stops the ball from crossing the back line into the Manchester United box and then plays the ball back to Taylor Hinds. The left full-back receives the ball about five yards outside the penalty area and immediately tries to hit from distance, but Mary Earps is able to get down and make a comfortable save.

Ceri Holland gets people out of their seats with her own remote strike. She continues from right to left before unleashing a strong drive from outside the box. Her left-footed shot whistles just over the crossbar.

Grace Fisk misplays a ball in her own goal and sends it out for a corner. The ball is sent into the Liverpool box and is not cleared, allowing Manchester United to get a shot from close range. Teagan Micah once again manages to get her body down and makes a huge save.

Liverpool were awarded a free kick into the left channel moments later halfway through the Manchester United half. The ball is only partially played away and falls for Ceri Holland at the top of the penalty area. The Welsh midfielder unleashes a strong volley that forces a fantastic save from Mary Earps.

Oh my word, Emma Koivisto comes within moments of opening the scoring. A ball in the penalty area is mishandled by a Manchester United defender, and the ball bounces into the goal between her and Earps in the penalty area. Koivisto runs in and gets a head to the ball before anyone else can react, but the ball runs past Earps and hits the post. Koivisto continues her run but can only just place the rebound on the wrong side of the post.

The game is stopped as both Grace Fisk and Ceri Holland are out for Liverpool. Holland is able to get to her feet after a few moments, but Fisk needs a headscarf because of a cut above her eye. She can continue playing after being bandaged.

Great concern for Emma Koivisto. She tries to reach a ball on the right flank and gets a push from Gemma Evans. Koivisto flies into the boards and lands in a pile. The medical team rushes out to tend to the Finnish fullback.

Oh no, Matt Beard is getting sent away now! The referee decided that the challenge on Koivisto was justified, and the Liverpool manager was unhappy with the non-call after a number of very poor challenges occurred. It’s unclear what Beard said or did, but whatever it was, the referee comes over and shows Beard a red card as Koivisto is still receiving treatment.

Luckily, Koivisto is able to get up and continue a minute into the broadcast. Manchester United get the ball forward and look to take advantage while Liverpool try to get themselves in order. The ball is played into the penalty area and finds Ella Toone in space, but her shot goes over the crossbar.

Mia Enderby immediately seems to counterattack on her own. She uses her pace and quick feet to carry the ball to the edge of the penalty area, surrounded by defenders. A Manchester United player slides in to poke the ball clear, and the ball rolls just past the diving Mary Earps and just outside the post for a Liverpool corner. The Reds can’t get anything from the set piece.

With regular time winding down in the first half, Liverpool earn a corner on the right flank near the corner flag. Hinds throws the free kick towards the far post, but the ball is headed away and set out for a throw. The ball changes possession a few times after coming back into play before ending up in the path of Marie Höbinger. The drive drives forward and hits a shot from distance, but it’s right into the net for Earps.

GOAL LIVERPOOL!!! Taylor Hinds earns a corner kick after a drive-run along the left wing. Marie Höbinger hits the ball short to Hinds, who passes the ball back to Höbinger who was racing behind her. Höbinger delivers a fantastic cross into the box, it goes through everyone and falls to Jenna Clark at the back post for a simple header! That’s Clark’s first goal for the Reds. In the meantime, that is Höbinger’s fourth assist this week.

A few minutes later, the referee blows the whistle to end the first half and Liverpool enter the dressing room with a deserved 1-0 lead.

Second half

No changes for Liverpool to start the second half. Mark Skinner brings on Hayley Ladd for Lisa Naalsund in midfield.

Mia Enderby was fouled on the right wing after 53 minutes after being pushed down. Marie Höbinger puts another great set piece into the penalty area and Mary Earps is forced to score clear in the middle of the crowd. The ball only goes as far as Ceri Holland, but the midfielder can’t get much power from her header and Earps is able to claim the ball with bodies around her.

Fuka Nagano attempts a shot from the edge of the penalty area after the ball is passed to her. She hits a worm burner, but her low shot is sucked up by Earps.

Ceri Holland goes down after being hit in the back while trying to head the ball. The referee whistles too late and the Netherlands is taken care of. Meanwhile, Manchester United use the break to make a few substitutions as they chase the match.

Mia Enderby is proving to be quite a problem for Manchester United. The young striker races the ball down the left channel before cutting inside past a defender. Enderby hits a powerful curling shot, but it dives just too late and goes inches over the bar.

Another big no-call as Sophie Roman Haug gets into position for a header in the penalty area and tumbles after contact from a defender. The ball is recovered on the left by Taylor Hinds and she signs a corner. The ball is shot in, but a shot goes wide of the net.

Ceri Holland charges through the center of the pitch towards the Manchester United box, and no one closes her down. She shoots a shot towards the goal, but it goes over the bar.

Yep, Teagan Micah gets away with it. Liverpool plays the ball back to the goalkeeper and she has two players to pass to because she is closed. However, she mishits the ball and it goes straight into the attacking attacker’s legs. Fortunately, the ball immediately comes back to Micah and she is able to get it away.

Another bad challenge comes in, this time from Lucia Garcia on Taylor Hinds. For the first time this match, the referee goes to her cards (in front of a player on the field) and shows Garcia a yellow card.

Liverpool manage to catch a break from Manchester United, but Gemma Bonner goes down during the series. Leanne Kiernan was due to come on but is withdrawn to the bench. Meanwhile, Manchester United are making two more changes.

Jenna Clark makes a great run forward after recovering a ball in her own half. She plays a ball down the line for Mia Enderby, and the youngster uses her pace to round her defender and get into the penalty area. She plays a ball in for Sophie Roman Haug, but the ball is too high and goes over everyone. That will be the final action for Enderby as she is withdrawn for Leanne Kiernan. Another very good performance from Enderby on the day.

Another big challenge comes from Manchester United when Hayley Ladd beats Emma Koivisto. Ladd, who is shown a yellow card.

Close to Liverpool! Beautiful play on the left flank sees Ceri Holland slip the ball to Taylor Hinds as she heads towards the back line. Hinds puts in a beautiful ball and Sophie Roman Haug heads the ball too close to Earps.

Now Leanne Kiernan comes into action and shoots a shot away on the edge of the penalty area. It whistles just past the edge of the post.

Fuka Nagano goes into the book in the 84th minute after making a professional foul to break a counter.

All hands on deck for Liverpool, who want to defend themselves and wait out the game. Manchester United are applying pressure, but the Reds are doing enough to clear the lines as the clock approaches 90 minutes. There will be an additional 5 minutes.

Oh my word, Sophie Roman Haug has a chance to freeze the game, but screws it up. She does well to press high, and Millie Turner hits the ball into her legs. The ball falls kindly for Haug, where only the goalkeeper can be beaten, but the Norwegian striker puts the ball in the side net.

TEAGAN MICAH WITH A SPECTACULAR SAVING!!! A free kick is shot in from deep and lands on the head of Melvine Mallard. The looping header looks like it’s heading for the top corner, but Micah comes flying over at full speed and taps it around the post!

Liverpool make two changes as they look to eat up the clock. Yana Daniels replaces Emma Koivisto, while Melissa Lawley replaces Sophie Roman Haug.

We’re now past the 96th minute when whistles come from the crowd, hoping for full-time. Liverpool takes the ball deep in their own half and Ceri Holland carries it across the pitch and into the corner. When she gets there, the referee blows full time!

Final thoughts

What a way to end the last home game of the season! With the victory, the Reds now control their own destiny for fourth place in the table. A win or a draw against Leicester in the last game of the season and the place is theirs! Liverpool travel to Leicester in two weeks to complete their WSL campaign.