A spirited second-half display was not enough as Liverpool FC Women fell to a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Birmingham Women on Sunday.

Former Red Lucy Staniforth scored one and assisted another as the Blues leapfrogged Vicky Jepson’s side at the base of the Women’s Super League table.

Birmingham took the lead with the first real opportunity of the match at Damson Park, home of Solihull Moors.

Staniforth delivered a free-kick with pace into the Liverpool box and Blues captain Kerys Harrop rose highest to head into the net on 10 minutes, giving Fran Kitching no chance.

Rinsola Babajide offered the chief Liverpool threat, operating initially from the right with Jess Clarke through the middle, but she could not quite find a link-up with players in the box to cause enough problems for Hannah Hampton in the Birmingham goal.

Abbi Grant tried her luck twice from distance for the hosts but Kitching was well behind the first, and the second curled wide after a short corner.

Liverpool offered their own short corner routine but Melissa Lawley’s eventual cross ended with Rhiannon Roberts unable to direct her header on goal.

It was Grant who had the final effort of the first period, her strike being well tipped over by Kitching, who was the busier goalkeeper in the opening period.

The Reds were considerably improved after the break with Babajide offering the first threat with a shot from distance which was too high, before a promising break with several players closing in on goal was ended by the offside flag.

At the other end, Lucy Whipp’s low shot was gathered well by Kitching and a dangerous attempt from Grant was deflected wide by a good block from Leighanne Robe.

Kirsty Linnett and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk arrived from the bench just after the hour mark and almost had an immediate impact.

Linnett’s hit was saved by Hampton low down before Sweetman-Kirk fired in another effort that the goalkeeper again clawed away.

The former then had a penalty claim waved away by referee Lisa Benn.

Jepson’s charges were spending far more time in the opposition’s half, winning several set-pieces, but without an opportunity for the equaliser.

Kitching pulled off a fine save to stop Rachel Williams from extending the home side’s advantage – but the reprieve only lasted a minute.

A ball into the box fell at the feet of Staniforth and she was able to direct it high into the net to clinch the three points for the home side on 83 minutes.

Liverpool FC Women: Kitching, Jane, Purfield, Robe, Bradley-Auckland, Bailey, Roberts, Babajide, Charles (Hodson, 78), Clarke (Sweetman-Kirk, 62), Lawley (Linnett, 62).

Unused substitutes: Preuss, Kearns, Murray, Rodgers.

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