Liverpool 1 - Blackburn 0
Liverpool: Jasmine Matthews 45’
After a rare mid-week match in the WSL, the Liverpool FC Women’s team returns to group play in the Continental League Cup. The Reds sit on top of Group B with two wins in their opening two games, while Blackburn sit winless at the bottom of the group. Matt Beard makes a raft of changes from the squad that drew with Reading on Thursday, swapping out eight players in total. Missy Bo Kearns comes back into the side in midfield and gets another opportunity to captain her childhood side. Faye Kirby gets her Liverpool debut in net, with youngster Hannah Silcock anchoring in the center of defense. Melissa Lawley gets an opportunity to play through the middle up top to give Katie Stengel a rest.
Liverpool start the game on the front foot, with Razza Roberts putting in a couple of dangerous crosses from her right wing back spot in the opening two minutes. A third cross from Roberts in the fifth minute creates a scramble in the cross, but Liverpool were just unable to get the touch needed to turn the ball into the net.
After struggling mightily with set pieces during the match with Reading, Liverpool do well to defend the first free kick they face. Carla Humphrey wins the ball, stays composed under pressure, and makes sure to send the ball well out of the area when no options for a pass open up.
Liverpool looking very comfortable on the ball in the early goings, playing nice quick combination passes to move the ball up the field and pull defenders out of position. Most of the attacking play is moving the ball out to the right side for Roberts and Lawley to send in dangerous crosses.
The front three for Liverpool are swapping positions, allowing Melissa Lawley to pop up all over the field. She gets the ball near midfield on the left side in the 15th minute and beats two players on the dribble to get to the ball into the attacking third. Her ball into the box is blocked out for a corner kick, and the resulting ball is half cleared for a Megan Campbell throw in. Yana Daniels flicks on a header at the near post from the long throw, but goalkeeper Alex Brooks is able to gather the ball.
A moment of concern for the Reds as a long ball bounces just outside the top of the box with a Blackburn player lurking. Faye Kirby comes aggressively off her line and leaps for the ball to make the catch, but she collides with Megan Campbell, who tracked back with the attacking player. Campbell stays down for just a moment, but is fine to continue.
Liverpool get a couple of bites at the apple midway through the first half. Emma Koivisto gets a head to a ball off of a Razza Roberts cross, but the ball loops just over the bar and lands on the top of the net. Moments later, Missy Bo Kearns receives a ball just inside the box, turns and gets a shot off, but the shot is blocked.
Melissa Lawley comes INCHES from opening the scoring. She gathers the ball deep on the left side, cuts on her right, and unleashes a shot from a full 25 yards out. The ball has the goalkeeper beat, but crashes off the crossbar.
Liverpool again almost find a way through, but just can’t find the back of the net. A corner sent in by Missy Bo Kearns comes all the way through to Carla Humphrey who swivels her hips to send a shot on goal. The ball is blocked off the line, and comes back out to Jasmine Matthews just outside the box. The lanky midfielder rips a shot that is partially deflected, then tipped over the bar by a leaping Alex Brooks.
Liverpool FINALLY break through just before half time. Melissa Lawley plays a wonderful ball from a central area out to Carla Humphrey on the right wing. The striker hits a sensational cross to Jasmine Matthews at the far post, and the midfielder powers a header past Brooks and into the back of the net!
Liverpool make a trio of pre-planned substitutes at the start of the second half as Matt Beard looks to rest some players after a short turnaround from two long away trips. Taylor Hinds comes on for Emma Koivisto at left wing back, Charlotte Wardlaw enters for Jasmine Matthews, and Katie Stengel replaces Melissa Lawley.
Liverpool show great patience moving the ball around midfield and the back before releasing Razza Roberts into space down the right wing. She again puts in a quality delivery with Yana Daniels making the run into the center of the box, but the ball is bundled out for a corner just ahead of the sliding Belgian.
Liverpool win another corner moments later, and again Yana Daniels gets into the danger area after the ball is only partially cleared. She gets a head to the ball delivered back into the box, but she just can’t get enough on it and the ball is saved.
Katie Stengel shows off skill and pace, taking the ball past a player near midfield then charging forward into the box. She opens up her hips to play the ball to the far post, but she puts the shot right at Alex Brooks in net for the save.
Hannah Silcock showed off her passing range on a couple of occasions midway through the second half. She hit two fantastic diagonal balls to find attacking players deep into the attacking third. She also had a nice defensive sequence, winning an initial header and then stepping out and slowing down the attack to allow the rest of the team to get back and cover.
Matt Beard makes another sub in the 65th minute, bringing on midfield stalwart Ceri Holland. The Welsh player replaces Missy Bo Kearns. Taylor Hinds takes the captains armband with Kearns exiting the field.
Liverpool continue to press for a second goal to double their lead, continuing to move the ball well down the right side of the field. Razza Roberts continues to pepper the box with quality deliveries, but the Reds are not able to convert.
Yana Daniels does well to advance the ball down the left wing, sending a ball across the face of goal with the Blackburn defenders facing their own goal. Katie Stengel is also on hand, but the ball is turned behind for a corner. Carla Humphrey sends a great delivery into the box that comes out to Leighanne Robe, but the center back’s shot goes just over the bar.
Shanice van de Sanden enters the fray with 10 minutes left in the match. She replaces Yana Daniels in the attack.
Liverpool stay on the attack and Taylor Hinds makes a late run into the box to receive the ball. She gets caught by a defender and goes down as play continues. Hannah Silcock gathers the ball near midfield and drives forward on a mazy run, dribbling past two defenders before being fouled 10 yards outside of the Blackburn box. Hinds is still down, and the medical staff comes on to check her ankle. After several minutes, Hinds limps off under her own power. She is thankfully able to continue.
Liverpool launch a quick counter, with Kirby finding Razza Roberts on the right, who releases Shanice van de Sanden down the wing. The Dutch player shows a great turn of pace to get to the ball before it crosses the end line, and drives a cross into the box. It was unfortunately just a little too flat of a delivery and Alex Brooks was able to catch the ball at the near post with several Liverpool players lurking just past her.
Great interplay from Liverpool down the right wing yet again, with Carla Humphrey playing van de Sanden down the line again. Shanice slows the ball down with most of her support behind her, and then plays a great one two before sending an inviting low ball across the box, but it is just behind two Liverpool attacking runs.
Liverpool come close to finding their way through once more in extra time, with Katie Stengel looking to slip in Shanice van de Sanden with a slide rule pass. The pass is just cut out, and the referee blows for full time.
That was about as dominating a 1-0 win as you’ll ever see. Liverpool controlled the ball, and played most of the game in the Blackburn half, but were only able to convert the one time. It was enough, however, and Liverpool remain at the top of Group B.
After back to back long road trips, Matt Beard’s side will remain on Merseyside to host West Ham in the WSL nest Sunday before taking on Manchester City in Liverpool’s last match in the Continental League Cup group stage next Wednesday. With a perfect record thus far, Liverpool have a very good chance of advancing to the knockout rounds no matter the result with Manchester City.