Liverpool are inching forward to their WSL season opener in three weeks time. They took on West Ham United in London in their penultimate friendly. Matt Beard continued to showcase the depth of the squad, chopping and changing the lineup yet again, but still managing to put out a strong side.
Emma Koivisto showcased her versatility, lining up at left wing back with Taylor Hinds not in the team (hopefully nothing serious for Tay). Gilly Flaherty, Niamh Fahey, and Jasmine Matthews gave Liverpool a very experience back three.
Liverpool jumped straight into the game, dominating proceedings for the first ten minutes. The Reds saw a good chance early on as Katie Stengel did well to set up Missy Bo Kearns for a shot from inside the box, but she could not beat the keeper.
West Ham worked their way back into the game, showing they too could be a danger on the counter. Kirsty Smith sent a ball in to Ziu, but the shot flashed wide of the post.
Liverpool didn’t let West Ham get too settled, however, and the Reds opened the scoring in 16th minute. Emma Koivisto started the move on the left, releasing Shanice van de Sanden. The Dutch winger sent a deep cross to the back post that was tracked down by Melissa Lawley, who turned and whipped a cross in from the right. Katie Stengel was in the box to send a brilliant flicked header past the keeper and just inside the far post to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead.
Liverpool and West Ham traded chances over the next 30 minutes, with the Reds seeing the better of the opportunities. Liverpool looked like they could have earned a penalty after Missy Bo Kearns saw an effort blocked by an arm, but the referee declined to award the spot kick.
The front three of Stengel, van de Sanden, and Lawley created issues for West Ham by swapping roles, with van de Sanden in particular popping up all over the field.
Liverpool made on change at the half, bringing on Megan Campbell for Razza Roberts, with Campbell going to the left wing back and Koivisto switching to the right.
The Reds almost scored twice to open the second half, both times through Katie Stengel. Emma Koivisto played a great ball into the American striker, who turned and shot from close range, but saw her shot turned around the post by a great save. The resulting corner was sent in and Stengel headed the ball towards the goal but saw it ricochet off of the crossbar and West Ham were able to scramble it away.
The Reds were not to be denied in the 54th minute, however. Melissa Lawley sent in a great cross from the left a driving run, and it was met with a back post by Shanice van de Sanden, who nodded the ball into the net for a 2-0 lead!
Liverpool made two changes after the goal, bringing on Leanne Kiernan and Rachel Furness for Shanice van de Sanden and Missy Bo Kearns. The Reds continued to control the match with the fresh legs, showing great ball movement.
Liverpool earned a penalty kick n the 65th minute as Leanne Kiernan was cleaned out while trying to twist past a defender. The Irishwoman stepped up to take the spot kick that she had earned, and saw her initial effort saved, but she alertly followed up and drilled the ball into the roof of the net to give Liverpool a 3-0 lead.
Kiernan showed her poacher’s instinct, finishing off an excellent sequence in the 69th minute. The Reds showed off their high press, winning the ball back in the attacking third of the field. Ceri Holland drove to the byline on the left side of the box, and then cut towards the goal. The Welsh midfielder played the ball back to the center of the box where Kiernan had cut her run off to receive the ball and sweep it into the net for a 4-0 lead!
Matt Beard made a triple change after the goal. Yana Daniels and Carla Humphrey came on up front for Melissa Lawley and Katie Stengel. Leighanne Robe replace Gilly Flaherty in the center of defense.
Leanne Kiernan has decided she can’t stop scoring, getting on the end of yet another sweeping move by Liverpool. Megan Campbell started the move down the left, feeding the ball to Carla Humphrey. She played the ball to Leanne Kiernan, who ripped a shot past the keeper for the hat trick!
Liverpool made more changes, bringing on youngster Hannah Silcock for Jasmine Matthews. Rachael Laws also joined in the fray in net, replacing Eartha Cumings.
Carla Humphrey almost added a sixth goal. She was sent clear into the right side of the box, but her low shot was well saved.
Liverpool saw the rest of the match out to take the 5-0 win over West Ham. While it is preseason, and the results don’t really mean anything, it is nice to see Liverpool dominate another WSL side. Matt Beard should be happy with the overall performance of the squad, they controlled the match for long stretches even before blowing the game wide open in the second half. The squad depth is impressive, and should help Liverpool wear down many of the other teams outside the top few in the league.