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Women's Football News
Liverpool 0 Arsenal 1 (Stoney 55)
Arsenal gave interim manager John Bayer a winning start and moved off the bottom of the WSL1 table after Casey Stoney scored the only goal of the game against Champions Liverpool.
A goal from a set piece in the second half was enough to give the away side all three points and it is now just one win in five league outings for the Reds. However, their overall performance was enough to suggest a return to their best form might not be too long away.
Liverpool manager Matt Beard suffered a pre-match blow when influential goalkeeper Libby Stout picked up a knock during the warm-up and Danielle Gibbons was promoted from the bench. However, the manager was boosted by returning duo Kate Longhurst and Katie Zelem, while new signing Nina Frausing Pedersen was on the bench. Arsenal meanwhile kept an unchanged side from that which had won the F.A.Women's Cup Final against Everton before the four week break.
The Reds went close after 13 minutes when Lucy Bronze's drive from the edge of the area was well stopped by Emma Byrne, then from the well worked resulting corner, Liverpool had an even better chance but the well placed Amanda Da Costa could only plant a header wide of the target.
On 17 minutes a great run down the right flank from Lucy Bronze saw her leave two defenders in a daze, but Kate Longhurst was crowded out as she attempted to carve out an opening.
Arsenal carried a threat on the counter attack and Gibbons showed she is certainly an able deputy for Stout with a brilliant save to keep out a close range effort from Alex Scott.
Two minutes later the Reds were nearly in front. A superb pass from Zelem carved open the Gunners defence but Corina Schroder couldn't provide the perfect assist as with Natasha Dowie lurking in the middle, Byrne smothered the ball and saved the day for her side.
Liverpool survived a scare when Danielle Carter surged into the penalty area and her deflected shot was almost turned into her own net by Lucy Bronze, as the ball bobbled just past the post. Then a well worked Arsenal move, with the influential Shinobu Ohno heavily involved, saw Scott's well drilled low effort well saved by Gibbons.
Just before the break another superb run from Bronze almost created an opener. After the defender was eventually crowded out, Gemma Davison's looping cross from the right caused problems for Byrne, but the goalkeeper just managed to adjust her feet and catch the ball right on the line.
The second half started with Bronze again causing problems for the Gunners down the right. An inviting pass found Da Costa in the penalty area, but the American international hesitated and was closed down.
The away side were nearly in front when Carter closed in on goal, but just as she was about to pull the trigger, Reds skipper Gemma Bonner came to the rescue with a magnificent block. From the resulting corner the Gunners took the lead when England international Casey Stoney fired home from close range after Gibbons' uncertainty in palming away the loose ball - a poor goal for Beard's side to concede.
Six minutes later the home side had a glorious chance to level things up when Dowie was put through on goal, but the normally lethal striker could only fire the wrong side of the post into the side netting.
Liverpool then made a double change with new signing, Danish Under-23 star Pedersen and Claudia Walker coming on in place of Zelem and the injured Longhurst.
Arsenal missed a gilt edged chance to make it 2-0 on 61 minutes when the unmarked Rachel Yankey fired over the top after a superb pull back from Carter. Then after some sustained pressure from Beard's charges, Dowie had another chance but she could only direct a close range header straight at Byrne.
Gibbons then had to be at her best to keep Liverpool in the game with a smart stop to deny Ohno after a superb pass from Kelly Smith had opened up the Reds defence.
Liverpool tried to press for the equaliser but they just couldn't break down a well organised Arsenal defence led superbly well by Stoney. Bronze volleyed a difficult chance over the top after a great cross from Walker but it just wasn't to be Liverpool's day and Arsenal could celebrate their first league victory of the season.
Liverpool: Danielle Gibbons, Becky Easton, Corina Schroder, Fara Williams, Gemma Bonner, Lucy Bronze, Gemma Davison, Katie Zelem (sub Claudia Walker 58mins), Natasha Dowie, Amanda Da Costa (sub Martha Harris 83mins), Kate Longhurst (sub Nina Pedersen 58mins).
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Emma Mitchell, Yukari Kinga, Casey Stoney, Niamh Fahey, Jade Bailey, Shinobu Ohno, Danielle Carter (sub Leah Williamson 70mins), Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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