Early goal hurts Lewes - and Liverpool claim points
A goal in each half secured in-form Liverpool a hard-fought win over Lewes at a sun-drenched Prenton Park, writes Jamie Bowman.
Despite plenty of possession and some promising moments, the visitors failed to recover from the blow of conceding an early own goal and centre-half Meikayla Moore secured the three points with a fine header in the second half.
Liverpool were immediately on the front foot and took the lead in the seventh minute as Ceri Holland's corner was met by the unfortunate Nicola Cousins, who headed into her own net.
Lewes responded well and went close with a long-range effort from Ini Umotong during a sustained period of pressure which saw them force a succession of corners.
But it was another corner from Holland which saw the Reds come closest to a second when her in-swinging centre was clawed on to the bar by a scrambling Tatiana Saunders.
In the closing minutes of the half, an almighty scramble in the hosts’ box led to some vociferous penalty appeals for handball but referee Declan Brown waved away the protests.
The home side needed a second to settle any nerves and they got one ten minutes after the restart when a quick free-kick from Holland allowed Ashley Hodson to cross for Moore to head home.
Lewes shuffled the pack with five substitutions but Liverpool were able to see out the remainder of the game without any major difficulties to stay third in the table.
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Liverpool striker Kirsty Linnett said: "It's great to get the win and the three points because they had good spells in the game. They have really improved since the start of the season and obviously signed some really good players.
"We are a bit frustrated because we started really well and were on fire for the first 15-20 minutes but it is hard to maintain that throughout the game. We lost a bit of momentum and let them back into it. We started slowly in the second half too so all round it wasn't our best performance but sometimes you just have to get the result.
"We have started slowly for the last couple of weeks so we wanted to start quickly. They were playing five at the back so it was difficult to get past that wall and they were blocking the shots really well - they obviously did their homework on us and gave us a hard game.
"It was a good time to get the second goal but we couldn't get hold of the ball afterwards. I don't want to be too negative but our mindset is that we just want to improve and build for next year and be in a good place."
Lewes manager Simon Parker said: "We are disappointed because the goals we conceded were both from set pieces and we needed to be switched on and ready. We felt there was a bit of controversy about both but we were a bit ropey in that first five minutes.
"With the second, I felt it was a clean challenge and the ref wasn't aware they were taking the free kick early. Add to that the penalty call which didn’t go for us and we do feel a little bit hard done by. They were key moments that lost us the game. In the second half I felt we had a little more intensity about us and got into good positions but we kept giving the ball away.
"We changed a few things and we weren't supposed to play so defensively but it became that way because we weren't so good on the ball in that first half. There are positives to take but we are disheartened."
Lewes (4-5-1): Tatiana Saunders; Charley Boswell, Ellie Hack, Rhian Cleverly, Nicola Cousins; Sophie O'Rourke, Mollie Rouse, Megan Mackey, Georgia Timms, Lucy Ashworth-Clifford; Ini Umotong. Substitutes: Filipa Savva for Timms 63’, Emma Jones for Hack 63’, Ellie Leek for Mackey 75’, Dani Lane for Rouse 75’, Simran Jhamat for Umotong 84’. Substitutes not used: Sammy Quayle, Katie Rood