LIVERPOOL Ladies reached the semi-finals of the SSE Women’s FA Cup on Sunday afternoon after beating Notts County Ladies 2-0 in Widnes.
Caroline Weir had put Liverpool ahead three minutes into the tie and Natasha Harding added a second midway through the first half.
Reds manager Scott Rogers made just one change to the side that beat Everton last weekend; England international Casey Stoney making her debut in for Katie Zelem, slotting in at centre-back alongside Gemma Bonner and allowing Sophie Ingle to move into midfield.
Weir’s opener came after Kate Longhurst had been brought down outside the box. With Liverpool still in possession, the referee allowed advantage to be played and Weir capitalised to send a low drive squirming underneath Notts goalkeeper Carly Telford.
The Scottish international almost had another just minutes later, Alex Greenwood made an excellent run down the left flank to cut the ball in towards Weir. Weir flicked the ball over Laura Bassett but ran into another Notts shirt and the visitors were able to clear their lines.
Liverpool were defensively sound throughout the 90 minutes with Ashley Hodson a stand-out performer filling in at right-back. Hodson rose highest to head away Angharad James’ swinging free-kick and made a crucial interception to prevent a cross finding its way into the box.
Siobhan Chamberlain then saved well from international team-mate Rachel Williams, stretching to tip her effort around the post, and Stoney cleared Dani Buet’s resulting corner off the line.
Notts would be left to rue these opportunities as Liverpool countered quickly, Weir turning provider to play Harding through. Harding carried the ball forward a few yards before curling a superb strike into the back of the net.
Reds skipper Gemma Bonner then cleared yet another Notts effort off the line following a period of sustained pressure in and around the Liverpool box.
Sophie Ingle also headed the ball calmly into the arms of Chamberlain under pressures from Williams and Stoney intercepted a pass intended for the forward from Kirsty Linnett.
Soaking up the pressure from the visitors, Liverpool then went on to have a hat-trick of chances before the half was up.
The most notable chance an impressive run and cut back from Shanice van de Sanden, the Dutch winger picking out the run of Longhurst who fired inches over the crossbar. Bonner was also denied by Telford from a corner and Ali Johnson shot over after also being teed up by van de Sanden.
In the second half van de Sanden was unable to convert a cross in from Weir, the ball deflected out for a corner. Notts initially cleared the set-piece however Liverpool found a way back in and Harding was stopped by a great save from Telford.
The Reds defence continued to impress during the second half. Linnett attempting to skip through the back line only to be challenged by Ingle, Aileen Whelan stopped in her tracks by Bonner and a marvellous block by Hodson denying Linnett at close range.
As the game drew to a close Harding and van de Sanden both seen chances go the wrong side of the post while Johnson sent an effort over the crossbar in injury time.
The visitors tried but ultimately couldn’t find a way through Liverpool’s back line, Bonner seeing off Williams with ease in the final minutes and Chamberlain out to collect a threatening cross.
LIVERPOOL LADIES: Chamberlain, Hodson, Bonner (c), Stoney, Greenwood, Ingle, Longhurst, Weir (Zelem), Johnson, van de Sanden, Harding
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Gibbons, Taylor, Cole
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Sophie Ingle