On manager Matt Beard’s 44th birthday, the Liverpool FC Women gave him about as nice of a present as he could ever have hoped for. The Reds smashed six goals past Blackburn Rovers as Liverpool resumed their dominant form after their winter break.
Unsurprisingly, Beard put out a very strong side to start the match. Charlotte Wardlaw, fully recovered from an injury, started at right wing back along with the usual cohort in the back. Ceri Holland and Missy Bo Kearns were the preferred midfield pairing, with Rachel Furness on the bench. Meanwhile, Leanne Kiernen returned from a hamstring injury to lead the line, flanked by Melissa Lawley and Yana Daniels. New signing Katie Stengel was on the bench as depth for the striker position.
— Liverpool FC Women (@LiverpoolFCW) January 9, 2022
Your first Reds line-up of 2022 pic.twitter.com/xyQqc3uw4N
As has become the norm, Liverpool started the game out brightly, piling the pressure on the home side from the off. Missy Bo Kearns and Leann Kiernan had shots saved within the first 10 minutes. Kearns was denied from close range by a fine save before Kiernan tried an audacious overhead kick that didn’t have enough power to beat the keeper.
Liverpool kept the attack rolling, with Blackburn keeper Alex Brooks playing hero to keep the Reds out of the net. Kearns again put a shot on target with a volley at the back post, but Brooks was able to palm the ball away again. Next, Brooks did well to save a Niamh Fahey header on the line after a corner kick.
The Reds finally broke through in the 26th minute, again off of a corner kick. This time Brooks could not stop Niamh Fahey’s header from close range off of the Bo Kearns delivery, giving Liverpool the deserved 1-0 lead.
Liverpool did not sit back, but continued to press for more goals. That did leave the defense vulnerable on the counter at times, and Rachael Laws had to come up with a big save to deny Annabel Blanchard to preserve the Liverpool lead late in the first half.
Melissa Lawley almost doubled Liverpool’s tally just before halftime with a rocket from distance, but her shot caromed off of the crossbar and Blackburn were able to scramble it away.
Liverpool made two changes to start the second half, with Razza Roberts coming on for Charlotte Wardlaw and Megan Campbell replacing Leighanne Robe.
It didn’t take long for Liverpool to get back among the goals as the second half started, and they came thick and fast from Leanne Kiernan. The Irishwoman opened up her tally with a sensational strike in the 52nd minute. She took the ball off of the toes of a defender on the left edge of the box, cut the ball back and made her defender slip as she moved away from goal, then cut inside and unleashed a rocket to the far post.
Just a minute later, Kiernan scored her second of the day, this time putting in a pure poachers goal. She got into a great position in the center of the box and beat a defender for a rebound off of the keeper, slotting the ball home with her left foot.
She rounded out her six minute hat trick by finishing off a great move from Liverpool. The Reds worked the ball down the left flank, from defense all the way into the attack. Melissa Lawley sent a cross in that Yana Daniels dummied, leaving it for Kiernan in the middle of the box. The striker took one touch to settle the ball before slamming home a half volley.
Kiernan’s third goal was her last kick of the night as Katie Stengel was brought in to make her Liverpool debut. Stengel got involve immediately, hitting a low shot that Brooks had to get down to turn out of the goal.
Rachel Furness came on in the 67th minute, and made her presence felt within seconds. The midfielder got into the box to tuck home a wonderful knock down from Taylor Hinds with her first touch of the game.
Liverpool rounded out the scoring on the day with another Rachel Furness goal. The Northern Irishwoman made a run to the back post to turn home a low cross from Ashley Hodson. Katie Stengel made a great run and dummied the ball to take a defender out of the play, leaving the ball for Furness.
With the win, Liverpool are now back even with Durham on matches played at eleven a piece. The Reds have a five point lead in the table, and a double-digit lead in goal difference. Liverpool will be back in action next Sunday, hosting Watford.