Natasha Dowie scored twice as Liverpool Ladies beat Doncaster Belles 3-2 in a thrilling encounter in the Continental Cup at the Select Security Stadium in Widnes on Saturday night.

Now Matt Beard's side must wait and see what happens in the remaining cup games on Sunday to determine if they can qualify for the semi-finals, but it remains out of their hands.

After the 7-1 thumping of Durham last weekend, Beard kept his new-look attacking formation and straight from the kick-off Liverpool were quickly into their stride against the WSL 2 outfit.

Kate Longhurst teed up Gemma Davison whose blistering drive flew just over the bar, and seconds later Liverpool were through again. A lovely through ball from Natasha Dowie sent Longhurst clear but faced one-on-one with the keeper she could only lift the ball over the bar.

The away side also created a good chance themselves after five minutes when Jessica Sigsworth drilled an effort just over the top.

Two minutes later a well worked Liverpool free-kick saw Lucy Bronze's fierce drive superbly palmed away by Nicola Hobbs, then seconds later a superb Liverpool move saw Longhurst's effort brilliantly kept out by the keeper.

Hobbs is the sister of former Liverpool defender Jack, and she had an inspired evening as she kept Liverpool out time and time again.


However, Matt Beard's side weren't to be denied as the pressure paid off after eight minutes with the opening goal. Katie Zelem's cross from the right caused problems and after hesitation from Hobbs, goal poacher supreme Dowie was there to fire home.

The second goal arrived on 14 minutes and it was another outstanding Liverpool move. A sublime touch from Dowie put Davison one-on-one with the defender. The No.10 glided past her marker and after her effort was superbly kept out by Hobbs, Amanda Da Costa was there to fire the loose ball into the net.

Liverpool survived a scare just before the half-hour mark when goalkeeper Libby Stout came out to the edge of the area to close down a Doncaster attack, but missed the ball and was fortunate to see Bethany England fire wide from a tight angle.

Da Costa then set off on a superb solo run that took her to the edge of the Doncaster penalty area, but her left footed drive again brought a fine stop from Hobbs.

Liverpool made it 3-0 just before the break. A mistake at the back from Lyndsey Cunningham let in Dowie, and clean through on goal the No.9 provided the clinical outcome by firing past Hobbs.

Six minutes into the second half Liverpool came so close to a fourth goal. Dowie set up Longhurst whose goal bound drive was somehow kept out by the athletic Hobbs.

The away side did pull a goal back on 58 minutes from a well worked set piece that saw England send a thumping header beyond the reach of Stout.

Davison then went close to another Liverpool goal when she fired into the side netting after a fantastic run down the right from Lucy Bronze.

Beard then welcomed back Katrin Omarsdottir after injury when she replaced Davison, and the Icelandic international almost scored with her first touch when she headed over the bar from close range.

To their credit Doncaster Belles never gave up and they made it 3-2 to set up a frantic last 10 minutes when Sigsworth headed home another right wing cross.

However, with skipper Gemma Bonner a commanding presence at the back Liverpool held on for victory and they now look forward to the derby with Everton in the Women's Super League on Wednesday night.

Liverpool Ladies team: Libby Stout, Lucy Bronze, Corina Schroder, Nina Pedersen, Gemma Bonner, Fara Williams, Amanda Da Costa, Katie Zelem (Hannah Dale 61), Kate Longhurst (Becky Easton 85), Natasha Dowie, Gemma Davison (Katrin Omarsdottir 73). Subs not used: Danielle Gibbons, Martha Harris, Ellie Stewart, Ashley Hodson.

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