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Women's Football News
Bristol Academy 1 (Harding 74) Liverpool 3 (Davison 22, Omarsdottir 42, Bonner 57)
Liverpool produced an excellent performance to run out convincing 3-1 winners at Stoke Gifford and lift themselves into second place in the WSL 1 table.
It was the first time the two teams had met since last season's title decider and it turned out to be a night to forget for the home side as they struggled to cope with the Liverpool forward line and lost Laura Del Rio to injury and Jemma Rose to a red card.
The match had been in some doubt due to thundery rain in the area but the weather cleared during the afternoon and the pitch was in good condition by kick off time.
Things did start well for Academy as they produced the first chance early on, after Gemma Bonner had headed away a Natasha Harding cross, Corinne Yorston pounced on the loose ball and her rasping shot brought out a good save from Libby Stout in the Liverpool goal.
The game went into something of a lull at this point, the biggest cheer coming when a magpie - possibly expecting Notts County to be playing - perched on the crossbar behind Mary Earps' goal and remained on the pitch for some time.
However the game exploded into life as Kate Longhurst made a good run down the right and her far post cross was met by Natasha Dowie, whose header was blocked by Rose but Liverpool's appeals for a goal were muted as the ball was deemed to have already gone out of play.
Three minutes later though, Liverpool could celebrate their opening goal. Fara Williams' corner was headed away to the edge of the area, as far as Gemma Davison whose perfectly executed volley found the corner of the net to keep up her fine scoring record against Bristol Academy.
It could well be been two just minutes later, this time a good passing move culminated with Nina Pedersen releasing Lucy Bronze on the right, where the England international's near post cross was steered just wide by Katrin Omarsdottir.
The strong running Longhurst and the pacey Davison were causing Academy all kinds of problems and a clever flick from Longhurst instigated another opportunity, Martha Harris' cross being headed away by Yorston under pressure from Davison and Williams tried her luck with a curling shot which was held by Earps.
As half time approached, Liverpool took a firm grip on the game with a second goal. Gemma Bonner's pass was laid off by Dowie for Amanda Da Costa whose low skidding shot came back off the post and Omarsdottir was perfectly placed to tuck home the rebound.
Liverpool sought a third ahead of the break and, after winning a free kick 25 yards from goal, Williams' strike brought out a superb save from Earps and Loren Dykes just did enough to prevent Longhurst and Dowie from bundling home the loose ball. The resulting corner was taken short and Williams whipped in a cross for Longhurst to glance a header just wide.
The second half started with Academy needing to get themselves back in the game but things got worse as the visitors went further ahead. It was another set piece which led to the goal, Williams' corner was touched on at the near post and Bonner forced the ball home from close range.
Academy tried to rally and two Angharad James corners led to chances, first Nikki Watts headed just wide and then Alex Windell, making her return from injury, had a header charged down by Bronze.
However things went from bad to worse for the home side as Omarsdottir's pass released Davison on goal. The winger was hauled down by Rose who had already been booked and she was shown a second yellow card for the foul.
Academy did produce a sublime moment to get themselves a toehold in the game, James' powerful header forward was chased down by Harding who cut inside Bonner before curling a delightful shot past Stout and into the far top corner.
Liverpool continued to press with Williams and Da Costa dominating matters in the centre and substitute Katie Zelem was twice just off target with long range efforts. Dowie then went close as injury time approached as she latched onto a pass from Harris but her shot was touched over the bar by Earps.
Watts was denied by a good block from Becky Easton at the other end as Liverpool finished the game worthy winners and an extension of this form will see them right amongst the title contenders at the end of the season.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Grace McCatty, Corinne Yorston (sub Frankie Brown 86mins), Loren Dykes, Jemma Rose, Sophie Ingle, Natalia Pablos Sanchon (sub Alex Windell 57mins), Angharad James, Laura Del Rio (sub Jaz Matthews 35mins), Nikki Watts, Natasha Harding. Subs not used: Cristina Vega Leandro, Rhian Cleverly.
Liverpool: Libby Stout, Lucy Bronze, Martha Harris, Fara Williams, Gemma Bonner, Nina Pedersen, Kate Longhurst (sub Ashley Hodson 78mins), Katrin Omarsdottir (sub Katie Zelem 73mins), Natasha Dowie, Gemma Davison (sub Becky Easton 82mins), Amanda Da Costa. Subs not used: Danielle Gibbons, Ellie Stewart, Corina Schroder, Hannah Dale.
(top) Loren Dykes manages to prevent Kate Longhurst and Natasha Dowie from scoring
(middle) Angharad James gets in a challenge on Amanda Da Costa
(bottom) Natasha Harding up against Lucy Bronze and Nina Pedersen
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