The Bees gave Liverpool an almighty battle but fell to a cruel defeat at Prenton Park, as two late goals handed the Reds all three points.
The hosts started the match on the front foot and looked to take the game to Sian Osmond’s side, but some good defending from centre back pair of Evie Gane and Georgia Robert denied the hosts any sort of early chance at goal in the opening five minutes.
However, four minutes later the early pressure told and the hosts took the lead as Becky Jane tucked home from six yards out as she got on the end of a cutback across the box, following industrious play down the Bees right-hand side.
The next chance fell the way of the Bees, as the excellent Sophie Quirk cut inside before firing an effort just past Laws’ left-hand post. Meanwhile, up the other end, Sarah Quantrill made a big stop to deny Rhiannon Roberts who had gone darting through on the Bees goal.
Osmond’s side continued to grow into the match and through Quirk, they almost had an equaliser, as her dangerous cross just evaded Lauren Pickett who was rushing into the box to meet it. The Bees continued to put the Reds on the back foot, but couldn’t find the crucial pass despite winning the ball back in some dangerous areas.
There was almost a second for Liverpool eight minutes before the break but a flying stop from Quantrill ultimately kept the score to one, in what was the host’s last effort of an entertaining half.
Osmond’s team talk must have had the desired effect as the Bees came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half and really rattled Liverpool. The Bees continued to win the ball in good area’s and this time some clear cut chances were presenting themselves.
Ten minutes after the break, the Bees broke forward and the ball went through to Pickett, via a Liverpool hand in the box it should be added, but Laws was there to smother our number seven’s poked effort from six yards out.
The chances kept coming as Amelia Hazard met a dangerous corner from Charlie Eastcourt, but her downwards header was again stopped by the legs of Laws. The Reds responded by making a triple substitution, including the introduction of top scorer Rachel Furness, an indication of how well the Bees had started the second half.
It would be the woodwork that would be next to deny Osmond’s side, as Quirk cut inside once again before her shot rattled the crossbar, the tricky winger caused all sorts of problems for Liverpool all afternoon and can count herself mighty unlucky not to have been on the scoresheet.
Liverpool’s full time status and squad depth told as the game enterted the latter stages as two quickfire goals added gloss to the scoreline. First Ceri Holland raced through one on one and made no mistake with her low finish that went under Quantrill, despite her best efforts. Then the game was rounded off by the Reds as Amy Rodgers tucked home with a neatly taken goal after the ball came her way in the Bees penalty area.
Although it was another disappointing result for Osmond’s side, they’ll take plenty of positives for how close they really were to making the outcome very different with the pressure they applied right until the late stages of the match.
London Bees (4-2-3-1): Sarah Quatrill (c); Flo Gamby, Georgia Robert, Evie Gane, Nicola Gibson; Charlie Estcourt, Bonnie Horwood; Mel Filis, Amelia Hazard, Sophie Quirk; Lauren Pickett.
Substitutes: Helen Ward for Pickett 68, Emily Donovan for Hazard 78, Sophie McLean for Horwood 78, Tricia Gould for Quirk 86
Substitutes not used: Hayley West, Billie Brooks, Brooke Nunn, Faye Hazelton, Mia Cruikshank
“I think we had to be really disciplined playing against someone like Liverpool. We knew the quality they had, we knew they would try and break us down with the split passes and create gaps in between.
“The game plan was to stay compact, communicate and keep everything tight through the middle. Then as soon as the ball goes wide try and pinch it, be aggressive and try and win it.
“I think overall we did do well. We put in a really good shift, every single player gave it their all and that is all we can ask for.
“We struggled quite a bit with the quality when we did make the regain and we had players swarming and counter pressing quickly. If you don’t find the out-ball quick enough they’re going to win it back and gain possession.
“It was one of those games where we were waiting for a couple of chances on the counter. And to be fair we did make a few.”
Head Coach Sian Osmond:
“Firstly I think we have laid some really good foundations from this afternoon’s performance, I thought 3-0 ended up being a harsh result on the team after some of the moments we had in the match. I thought we harried and had Liverpool pinned in for large periods of time in the second half, but ultimately our pressure didn’t quite get us what would have been a richly deserved equaliser. We forced their ‘keeper into two or three good stops and we struck the crossbar, so I think we can feel unlucky not to have got ourselves an equaliser at 1-0.
Ultimately, they’ve been able to bring some real quality WSL experienced players from the bench and they got finished the game off in the late stages. Our girls can be immensely proud of the effort they put in and it gives us a chance to build going into the remaining matches.
“We do have to improve with what we do on the ball when we regain possession, we won the ball in some good areas today, but were sometimes wasteful with our passes. We worked really hard to not give them time on the ball, which worked really well because we had them frustrated, but we have to make sure that we keep the ball for longer periods when we retain in. That side of the game comes with confidence and I think the girls can take real pride in their performance this afternoon.
It’s another difficult game next week but we will take what we have done well today and look back at the video to see what we can improve, before getting ready for another battle at The Hive. All in all, whilst I am disappointed with the score, I’m really proud of parts of our performance.”