Jep­son fumes at ref­eree as Spurs get off the mark

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football -

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

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