Everton 0-0 Liverpool: Goalless affair sees Liverpool leapfrog Manchester United

Despite settling for an uninspiring bore draw in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park on Sunday, Matt Beard’s Liverpool move ahead of Manchester United in the Barclays Women’s Super League, following the Red Devils 3-1 defeat in the opening match of Women’s Football Weekend.

A match heavily disrupted by a number of stoppages saw chances for both sides, but the Toffees looked to pose a more considerable threat as they attacked the Gwladys Street End in the second half. Brian Sørensen’s side remain ninth in the league standings.

As it happened

A cagey start to proceedings at Goodison Park was severely impacted by a number of injury-enforced stoppages – first for Megan Finnigan, then Courtney Brosnan, and finally Ceri Holland; all three were able to prolong their involvement in this showpiece clash in L4.

Chances would begin to present themselves around twenty minutes into this lunchtime affair, with Leanne Kiernan darting forward and looking to pose a threat before planting her strike disappointingly wide of the left post. Sophie Román Haug would also squander a clear-cut chance before the half-hour mark, pouncing on a misplaced pass from the Toffees and firing towards an open goal – Brosnan recovered in time to deny the Norwegian forward.

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Brian Sørensen’s Everton would too fail to capitalise on their opponent’s misfortune before the break, as a loose pass from Grace Fisk resulted in Emma Bissell being granted space to unleash a shot; it flew underwhelmingly wide of the target though, and there was nothing to separate the two sides as they headed down the tunnel.

An end-to-end spell just before the hour mark served to liven up the atmosphere a little at Goodison Park, as a poor Racheal Laws clearance afforded Heather Payne a goalscoring opportunity – but the Toffees star failed to make use of it, and Sørensen’s side were quickly called upon in their defensive capacity – with Finnigan the crucial cog in the machine as a Bo Kearns delivery was blocked.

A plethora of changers would further increase the tempo of the match, and as the clock ticked over into the final twenty minutes, the Toffees looked to take the lead in front of the Gwladys Street End. A well-worked chance created space on the edge of the box, with Lucy Hope striding into the space before unleashing an effort destined for the top-left corner – only to be denied by the woodwork.

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With their attacking quality finally beginning to shine through on Merseyside, Sunday’s hosts were understandably aggrieved when, with fifteen minutes of regulation time remaining, an apparent handball inside the Liverpool box went unnoticed by referee Kirsty Dowle.

Everton’s refusal to let their heads drop looked to pay off mere moments later, though they were denied the opener as Justine Vanhaevermaet stung the gloves of Laws with a fierce effort from outside the box.

Controversy would strike again as the Toffees were denied another penalty by the referee within stoppage time, as both sides ultimately settled for a goalless draw at Goodison Park. The result sees Everton remain ninth in the Barclays Women’s Super League, while their cross-city rivals leapfrog Manchester United to enter the prestigious top four.

Post-match, Liverpool manager Matt Beard admitted that the match was ‘definitely a missed opportunity’ to pick up a crucial three points, but criticised the state of the playing surface and expressed that he ‘can’t get his head around’ why the pitch wasn’t watered at half-time. You can read more quotes from Beard’s press conference here.

The lineups

EVE: Brosnan; Bissell, Finnigan, Vanhaevermaet, Galli; Wheeler; Hope, Kühl, Bennison, Payne; Snoeijs
Laws; Matthews, Fisk, Fahey, Clark, Parry; Kearns, Nagano, Holland; Kiernan, Román Haug