Arsenal Ladies secured their first league win of the season after beating Super League champions Liverpool on Sunday.
Casey Stoney's goal early in the second half was enough to secure Arsenal three vital points as they look to climb the table after a difficult first half of the season.
Arsenal fully merited their narrow victory on a sunny afternoon in Merseyside after creating chances in both halves and nulling the Reds' attacking threat.
It was the perfect way for interim coach John Bayer to start his short spell in charge as the club continue their search for Shelley Kerr's successor.
SETTING THE SCENE
Bayer made no alterations to the side that beat Everton in the Women's FA Cup final at the start of June.
The first half of Arsenal's season has been a mixed one. Their impressive run to a record 13th FA Cup success was countered by a winless start to their WSL campaign, leaving them in the unfamiliar position as the league's bottom club. Despite their stuttering start, the Gunners arrived on Merseyside with their unbeaten away run in the league since July 2011 still intact.
Liverpool also came into this game on the back of an indifferent start. The defending champions had taken six points from their first four games.
The home side were quickest to settle and created the first two openings of the game after 10 minutes. Lucy Bronze's drive was tipped over by Emma Byrne and from the resulting corner, Amanda Da Costa headed wide from five yards out.
Byrne then had to be on her guard to smoother a dangerous cross from Corina Schroder with Natasha Dowie waiting to pounce.
In the 21st minute, Danielle Carter drove in an effort that tested the fingertips of Danielle Gibbons before clipping the crossbar.
The visitors started to grow in confidence as the half wore on, Stoney clipped a shot over after Rachel Yankey and Alex Scott had combined from a short corner.
Five minutes before the break, Shinobu Ohno fed Scott down the right channel and the right back's low strike was smothered by Gibbons as the Gunners finished the half on the front foot.
Bayer's side continued to ask most of the question in the second half. Smith sent an effort straight at Gibbons before Carter shot wide after Smith had tried to play through Ohno.
In the 55th minute, Carter was again found in space but took too many touches as she bared down on goal which allowed Reds skipper Gemma Bonner to make a last-ditch challenge.
However Liverpool failed to clear the following corner and Stoney was on hand bundled home her second goal of the season after mis-kicking her initial attempt.
Arsenal immediately went in search of a second and went close when Ohno blasted a fierce drive just over.
But the next big chance fell Liverpool's way when Dowie got in behind the Arsenal defence for the first time and slid an effort wide with just Byrne to beat.
The Gunners should have doubled their lead and made sure of the three points on 63 minutes when Carter got to the byline before cutting back to Yankey who sent a first-time shot over.
Liverpool started to throw players forward in the final quarter as they tried to find a leveller but the Arsenal back four, along with Byrne were superb throughout and restricted the hosts to very few clear-cut openings.
A crucial three points for the Gunners - their league season has lift-off.
Referee: A. Tankard
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.