Liverpool repeated as FAWSL champions on Sunday, finishing top over Chelsea on goal difference in a dramatic three-team race on the final day of the season. Chelsea’s second-place finish earned the Blues a UEFA Champions League berth, while Birmingham was left empty-handed.
Chelsea led the league heading into the final match day, holding a two-point cushion over Birmingham City and a three-point advantage over Liverpool. But the Blues lost 2-1 to Manchester City — who finished with 10 players — to open the door for Birmingham. The Midlands club, however, could not beat Notts County, settling for a 2-2 draw that cleared the way for Liverpool’s dramatic coup.
Liverpool prevailed 3-0 over Bristol on goals Natasha Dowie, Lucy Bronze and a penalty from Fara Williams. All matches were played simultaneously. The Reds finished atop the FAWSL with 26 pts. and a plus-9 goal difference, two more goals for the good than Chelsea.
“I didn’t expect this to be honest with you, I really didn’t,” said Liverpool coach Matt Beard. “I am so proud of the players because we had such a tough game in the week and I think we deserved this title the way things have gone for us.”
Liverpool finished bottom of the league in 2011 and 2012, the first two seasons of the FAWSL. Beard was hired in August 2012, and has now delivered two league titles in his first two full seasons. Last season, Liverpool beat Bristol on the final day in a winner-takes-all match.
In Manchester, Jill Scott struck first before a splendid volley from Toni Duggan put City up 2-0. Both goals came after Chelsea goalkeeper Marie Hourihan had to come off just 11 minutes into the match due to a hard aerial collision. Clare Farrow replaced her.
“We’ll go again and we’ll be here again, and that’s the message I’ve put across to the players. The title just wasn’t destined for Chelsea this year,” Chelsea coach Emma Hayes said.
Birmingham will relate to the disappointment. Aileen Whelan and Fiona O’Sullivan put Notts ahead early in Birmingham, but Kirsty Linnett and Hannah Keryakoplis found net to level the match at 2-2. Notts goalkeeper Carly Telford saved England international midfielder Karen Carney’s penalty kick and her rebound shot, saves that ultimately kept Birmingham from a top-two spot and a place in the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League campaign.
Birmingham boss David Parker was left feeling gutted yet proud with the third-place finish.
“What we have had to fight for, we don’t get much in this world and there are clubs that get so much more, we fought for every single inch and every blade of grass has been covered,” he said.
Everton has been relegated to FAWSL2, finishing with just 4 pts. from 14 games. Sunderland currently leads the FAWSL2.
Arsenal missed out on a UEFA Champions League spot for the second straight season, having previously won nine straight first-division titles.
Pos Team Pl W D L GF GA Pts
1 Liverpool Ladies 14 7 5 2 19 10 26
2 Chelsea Ladies FC 14 8 2 4 23 16 26
3 Birmingham City Ladies 14 7 4 3 20 14 25
4 Arsenal Ladies FC 14 6 3 5 24 21 21
5 Manchester City Women 14 6 1 7 13 16 19
6 Notts County Ladies FC 14 4 6 4 12 8 18
7 Bristol Academy Women 14 5 1 8 18 24 16
8 Everton Ladies FC 14 0 4 10 10 30 4
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