Reds hit Blades for six in penultimate league fixture

Liverpool FC Women correspondent Lauren McCann reflects on a landmark day for Matt Beard’s Championship-winning side…

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Liverpool Women produced a Champions performance with a thumping 6-1 victory over Sheffield United in front of a record crowd at Prenton Park on Sunday, to crown their trophy lift in style.

A double from Katie Stengel and goals from Leanne Kiernan, Melissa Lawley, Missy Bo Kearns and Jasmine Matthews secured the win which Liverpool’s dominant performance merited, and the result extended their unbeaten run to a remarkable twenty games.

Manager Matt Beard made two alterations to the side who defeated Bristol City 4-2, a win which clinched promotion, with Yana Daniels and Kearns replacing Megan Campbell and Ceri Holland.

They got off to the perfect start in the Prenton Park sun when Stengel opened the scoring after just three minutes. Taylor Hinds won the ball in the centre circle and fed Melissa Lawley. The winger drove forward before slipping the ball through to Stengel, who produced a deft chipped finish over Frances Kitching for her eighth goal since arriving in January.

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Their second goal arrived on 15 minutes with Kiernan ending her goal drought by converting Lawley’s cross at the back post. Kearns almost added a third soon after, but her low effort from inside the box was beaten away by Kitching.

Kiernan and Lawley reversed roles for the Reds’ third goal after the break, with the Irish striker fizzing in a cross which the winger turned home. A poignant moment followed in the celebrations, with the whole squad running over to hug boss Beard, after the sad passing of his father on the eve of the game.

Stengel smashed home her second and Liverpool’s fourth on 67 minutes when she fired home from Daniels’ inviting delivery.

The visitors pulled a goal in the 78th minute after some poor defending from Liverpool. Ellie Wilson headed home unmarked past Rachel Laws, after meeting an inswinging free kick.

Kearns then restored their four-goal advantage seven minutes from time. Substitute Holland rattled the crossbar with a volley before Stengel recycled possession out to Kearns on the edge of the area, with the midfielder bending a first time cushioned effort into the top corner.

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Holland also played a part in the sixth goal which arrived three minutes later, as she nodded down a corner into the centre back’s path and Matthews did the rest, guiding the ball into the far corner to complete the demolition. She would be denied a second late in the game by a reflex save from Kitching.

The performance and result crowned what has been a remarkable season for the Reds, particularly at Prenton Park where they have been almost formidable since the opening day.

Lawley and Stengel were the standout performers, with the former delivering a goal and two assists and the latter two goals and an assist, with the Blades failing to deal with the two all game.

Kiernan’s relief at finally being back on the scoresheet was palpable in her celebrations and a deserving reward for a player who has been selfless in recent weeks in the Reds’ promotion push.

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Kearns and Furness were again an effective midfield partnership whilst Hinds and Daniels have really thrived in the wing back roles this campaign in an attacking sense.

Fahey’s Henderson-esque trophy lift was a sight to behold as the Reds finally got to celebrate their brilliant campaign in front of their equally brilliant fans, who have come out in numbers all season to get behind the team.

Whilst planning has begun in earnest for the almighty step up to the WSL, Liverpool’s players will enjoy their well-earned promotion while they can, and hope to round off the season with a win in their final fixture against Lewes on Sunday.

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