While the Liverpool FC Women have struggled in the WSL, the Reds have dominated their way through the opening three matches in the FA Continental Cup group stage. Matt Beard rotated his side heavily after two away matches earlier in the week, and was rewarded with a dominating display despite only managing to score one goal.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
The Welshwoman has not had many minutes this season due to the strong play from Emma Koivisto, but Razza Roberts has been impressive whenever given a chance. Being handed a rare start, Roberts displayed all the qualities that make her a fan favorite. She was a constant threat down the right wing, sending in strong deliveries all match long. She also showcased her strong tackling and tenacity to win the ball back high up the pitch to kill off counters before they could get started.
Cup matches are always a nice change to get minutes for promising youngsters, and Faye Kirby and Hannah Silcock made the most of their opportunities. Kirby got her Liverpool debut in net at just 18 years of age. She didn’t have too much to do from a shot stopping perspective, but she showed great bravery a couple of times to challenge for 50-50 balls in the box. She also showed good composure on the ball, playing some good passes out while under pressure.
Hannah Silcock has grown every match she has played for Matt Beard, and the 18 year old center back was fantastic against Blackburn. She snuffed out several attacks by being on the front foot, stepping up to collect the ball before launching counter attacks. She showed great passing range, sending a couple of fantastic diagonal balls up the wings. She also had several great carries, dribbling past players to progress the ball and earned a free kick deep in the attacking half.
She only played the first half, but Mel Lawley was absolutely everywhere in the attacking half. She floated across the field to find spaces to receive the ball, and then quickly got turned to face up with defenders. On the dribble, Lawley was an absolute menace, using fantastic close control and changes in pace to weave her way down the field time after time. She also put in dangerous passes into the box, both crosses and cut backs, and was unlucky not to score after lining up a shot from distance that crashed back off the crossbar.
Liverpool have struggled more often than not in the WSL to move the ball down the field with the quick passing that became their trademark on the way to the FA Women’s Championship title last season. Against Blackburn, Liverpool consistently were able to play the ball out to in and back out again, moving the ball between wing backs, midfielders, and forwards.
Shot and Conversion Rates
While the win was good, Liverpool generated a LOT of chances, but only managed 9 total shots, despite playing most of the game in the Blackburn half. Some quality goalkeeping kept a couple of the shots out, but the Reds are still failing to convert frequently enough from the opportunities created.
From the Manager
“Mel Lawley was fantastic again – I just love it when she’s got the ball at her feet because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
What Happens Next
After spending a LOT of time on the team bus this past week with away matches to Brighton last Sunday and Reading on Thursday, Matt Beard and his side will stay at home to take on West Ham in league play. The Hammers have been very up and down this season, and have played some tight matches against bottom sides despite sitting sixth in the table. Liverpool will look to continue their trend of picking up points after draws against Brighton and Reading in their last two league matches.