Following last year’s relegation after a series of incomprehensible decisions at the club level lead to a mass exodus of talent, Liverpool’s womens side has rebounded strongly this season, and another dominant win tonight saw them take the lead in Group A of the Continental League Cup.
Manager Matt Beard rotated his side heavily, swapping nine players from the team that defeated Durham at the weekend — taking them top of the Championship table — and, despite a lull towards the end of the first half and a sloppy goal needlessly conceded towards the end of the game, the Reds were dominant throughout against an overmatched Blackburn Rovers.
It took half an hour before Jade Bailey turned a mishandled corner into a scrappy goal, but in truth the Reds should have already been up by one or two, consistently finding runners in the wide areas and sending dangerous crosses into the Rovers area, with captain Missy Bo Kearns and Ashley Hodson in particular causing havoc.
1-0 at half-time flattered the visitors, and the Reds doubled their advantage within five minutes of the restart, as substitute and general menace Taylor Hinds arrived at the back post to convert yet another venomous cross.
The match maintained its character throughout the second half, with the addition of Mel Lawley on the hour mark causing further consternation for Blackburn defenders. The 27-year old should’ve put the result beyond doubt with ten minutes to go as Hodson set her up perfectly with a whizzing delivery across the six-yard box, but she somehow skied her finish.
Instead, there was some surprising nerve to the end of the fixture as a poor clearance from Katie Startup allowed Aimee Hodgson to slot home from 30-odd yards, inviting the visitors back into the game. Captain Niamh Fahey was brought on to see out the remaining five minutes in a sensible bit of game management and despite some late chippiness, the match ended without further dramatics.
Following on from two draws with subsequent penalty shootout bonus points, tonight’s win takes the Reds to seven points with a game to go, and puts them in prime position to secure advancement to the next round when they take on Sunderland in the group stage’s final fixture a month from now.