Jepson fumes at referee as Spurs get off the mark
Liverpool head coach Vicky Jepson did not dispute the penalty that condemned her side to their second consecutive defeat – and won newcomers Tottenham Hotspur their first points in the Women’s Super League. Becky Jane brought down the onrushing Rachel Furness inside the area on the stroke of halftime and Furness duly dispatched her penalty down the middle.
Nor did Jepson dispute that Niamh Fahey, in a game brimming with last-ditch challenges and in which Chloe Peplow ended up flying, horizontal, into an advertising hoarding at one point, deserved the red card that pushed an equaliser beyond their grip.
It is also hard to see how she could argue with Fahey’s pull on Rosella Ayane inches from the Liverpool box, deep into the second half, that was blatant and unashamed. What angered her so much was that the game had not been stopped earlier for a foul, before Kit Graham played the ball through the eye of the needle to Furness, and that thing boiled over after her players were left to “get really emotional through poor decisions”.
“We’ll be accountable and look at what we need to do better,” Jepson said. “But in that phase of attack before the penalty – which was a penalty – Sophie Bradley-auckland was fouled and it should have been our free-kick. He [the referee] let it run and they go and win the game with that penalty. We have reviewed the footage and we have tried to speak to the officials, but they don’t want to see it. Hopefully we can get some answers from the FA [Football Association].
“I know referees will make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect, but there’s got to be consistency across the league. That official wasn’t good enough and he actually lost control of the game. I saw players in my squad that got really emotional through poor decisions.”
It would be difficult to watch Spurs’ first two top-flight games – a narrow 1-0 defeat by Chelsea and this – and come to the conclusion that they will not be here again next season. It is unlikely that a squad still growing accustomed to the relative glamour of professional women’s football will get complacent.
For many in Karen Hills’s squad, this is their first season without having the distraction of another full-time job, and the first time that her and Juan Amoros, her jointhead coach, can recall not having to do, as he put it, “a thousand jobs”.
Jenna Schillaci, their captain, can remember a time when they would struggle to pull 11 players together on Sundays and the form of perhaps their best player in those opening two matches, Ashleigh Neville, is all the more remarkable given she was a teacher as recently as this summer and was playing for Coventry United in the third tier in 2017.
Here, again, right-back Neville was a menace, and her partnership down that flank with Gemma Davison looks promising.
The snake-hipped Davison revelled in the trickery that tortured Courtney Sweetman-kirk and Jade Bailey and she combined with Neville in a flurry of flicks and overlaps. Bailey got down low to block Neville’s drive from Davison’s lay-off. Davison had a curling effort kept out by Anke Preuss.
For long spells these teams were evenly matched. Liverpool’s best effort came from Jess Clarke, twisting into a shot from distance that was well held by Rebecca Spencer.
Giving chase: Spurs’ Rosella Ayane is tracked by Liverpool’s Melissa Lawley