Liverpool Ladies impressive unbeaten run came to an end on Sunday afternoon as they suffered a heavy 7-0 defeat on the road at Chelsea Ladies.
Chelsea took the lead in the second minute through Gilly Flaherty, while Fran Kirby and Ji So-Yun both scored on the stroke of half-time to extend the lead.
Any hopes Liverpool held of a comeback ended when Maren Mjelde scored at the start of the second half, and Karen Carney, Erin Cuthbert and Drew Spence finished off the rout.
The hosts – playing their final game at Staines Town F.C. before their move to Kingsmeadow – first found the back of the net as Flaherty converted Carney’s corner. The set piece swung in and Flaherty got the slightest of touches on the ball, nodding it between Siobhan Chamberlain and Casey Stoney.
Despite the final scoreline being lopsided, the tie had seemed perfectly balanced in the approach to the midway stage – Chelsea holding the 1-0 lead yet Liverpool knocking on the door.
Ellie Fletcher, who was making her first start for the first team since captaining the reserves to the league title, breaking up play from left-back. The youngster picking out Sophie Ingle and her cross towards Caroline Weir in the area intercepted.
Weir herself then sent a dangerous free kick into the Chelsea box, Millie Bright able to clear this before it could reach a Red shirt. The Chelsea and England centre-back also heading away a cross from Weir minutes later.
Liverpool were looking more and more likely to grab an equaliser, Weir almost finding the run of Natasha Harding and the Welsh international trying to return the favour – Deanna Cooper there to intercept.
Meanwhile at the back Ashley Hodson did enough to put Crystal Dunn of her cross which flew behind the touchline, and Chamberlain gathered a ball from former Liverpool winger Gemma Davison that was searching for Kirby.
A sign of more goals to come however came when Liverpool were again under threat from a set piece. Stoney thrice getting the ball clear, only to see it come back each time and the Reds only let off when Bright’s header was ruled out for offside.
The reprieve wouldn’t last long, ten minutes later Kirby racing onto Carney’s pass and firing the ball past Chamberlain.
Then it was three, Davison’s fierce cross whizzing across the face of goal to land at the feet of So-Yun – the South Korean making no mistakes from a yard out.
Out for the second half there was no letting up from the Chelsea attack, Mjelde extending the lead to four nil only three minutes in.
Liverpool still had their chances to get back into the game, Niamh Charles brought down by Katie Chapman and Coombs’ free kick sent out for a corner.
Bright then beat Harding to a cross in from Shanice Van De Sanden. While Harding also squared the ball to Sophie Ingle in an advanced position, Ingle looking for Van De Sanden yet goalkeeper Carly Telford getting there first.
One of the Reds biggest chances came in the 64th minute, Van De Sanden fizzing a cross across the face of goal but Weir arriving a second too late and unable to connect.
Scott Rogers made a trio of changes over the course of the second half, Jess Clarke on for Fletcher and Katie Zelem on for Weir – Ali Johnson entering the action later on for Harding.
The first two subs came either side of Carney’s strike, the England midfielder skipping out of the way of a challenge from Stoney to score Chelsea’s fifth.
Chelsea also made substitutions of their own, Mjelde replaced by Erin Cuthbert, Ramona Bachmann replacing Kirby and Drew Spence on in place of Davison.
In spite of being five-nil up and cruising, the Londoners refused to take their foot off the pedal and scored twice more in quick succession. Both Cuthbert and Spence piling on the misery for the Reds to ensure a heavy defeat for the league leaders.
A glimmer of hope came when Laura Coombs looked to have volleyed the ball home for a late consolation – Telford producing a brilliant save to tip the effort over the crossbar and sending Liverpool back North empty handed.
An uncharacteristic performance from Scott Rogers’ side, who will review the game before taking on Manchester City at the Select Security Stadium on Saturday afternoon – 3:30pm kick-off.
LIVERPOOL LADIES: Chamberlain, Hodson, Bonner (C), Stoney, E.Fletcher (Clarke), Ingle, Coombs, Weir (Zelem), Van De Sanden, Charles, Harding (Johnson)