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Liverpool 1 (Zelem 74) Notts County 0
Katie Zelem came off the bench to score with her first touch as Liverpool kept up their fight for the FA WSL title with a dramatic 1-0 win over Notts County on Sunday.
County started the day second from bottom of the table, but their performance certainly suggested they are in a false position and with manager Rick Passmoor constantly communicating from the sidelines, they made life extremely tough for Liverpool.
Liverpool made a bright start to the proceedings and straight from the kick off, Kate Longhurst set off on a superb run that took her into the County penalty area, but despite Corina Schroder in acres of space in support to the left, the striker was caught in two minds and the ball was cleared.
County responded well and had a sustained spell of pressure in the Liverpool half with the pace and trickery of Jess Clarke proving tough for Becky Easton to handle. Liverpool were guilty of giving the ball away cheaply and they were almost punished on 13 minutes when Clarke cut past Becky Easton on the left and curled an effort just wide.
Play was then held up while Liverpool had two injury scares. Goalkeeper Libby Stout pulled up after taking a goal kick, but after treatment was able to continue while Easton limped off and had to be replaced by Amada Da Costa. On 25 minutes Natasha Dowie, starved of any service up to this point, tried a speculative lob that landed a couple of yards wide of the post.
The Reds missed an absolute sitter on 32 minutes. Lucy Bronze set off on a superb run down the right and her perfect pull back saw Schroder fire over the top of an open goal. It almost proved costly at the other end when Caitlin Friend broke clear only to see her effort superbly kept out by Stout.
Matt Beard's charges came mighty close to taking the lead after 54 minutes when Dowie met a Fara Williams free kick, only to see her header hit the post and then roll to safety across the goal line. Just past the hour mark a superb pass from Bronze sent Gemma Davison clean through on goal, but County stopper Carly Telford was the hero for the away side as she made a great block and then made a double save from Dowie's follow up effort.
However on 74 minutes, Liverpool made the breakthrough. Dowie did brilliantly to find Davison in space on the right, and her perfect cross fell to Zelem who fired home. Beard ran down the touchline in jubilation as the goal could prove so vital come the end of the season.
There was more drama four minutes later as Davison ran clean through on goal and after her first effort was saved, she then fell under a strong challenge. Referee Mr Cropp pointed to the penalty spot, and County were furious. Manager Passmore ran down the touchline to remonstrate with the fourth official. Dowie placed the ball on the spot, and after a second consultation with his assistant, the referee then completely changed his mind and gave a drop ball much to the fury of Beard and his team.
County ended the game with ten players when Sophie Walton received her second booking deep into stoppage time.
The victory now puts the Reds in second place, two points behind leaders Chelsea. However, third placed Birmingham are just a point behind Beard's side and have two games in hand. Liverpool Ladies are still to face Birmingham away and have four Super League games remaining.
Liverpool: Libby Stout, Becky Easton (sub Amanda Da Costa 20mins), Nina Pedersen, Fara Williams, Gemma Bonner, Lucy Bronze, Kate Longhurst (sub Katie Zelem 73mins), Katrin Omarsdottir, Natasha Dowie, Gemma Davison, Corina Schroder.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Amy Turner, Danielle Brogan, Katie Hoyle, Rachel Corsie, Sophie Walton, Jess Clarke, Caitlin Friend (sub Ashleigh Plumptre 57mins), Aileen Whelan (sub Emily Roberts), Katie Holtham (sub Rachel Unitt 85mins), Desiree Scott.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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