RIANNA Dean fired a first-half double before Liverpool held off a storming Watford comeback to earn their first win of the FA Women’s Championship season. 

Having lost 1-0 to London City Lionesses on the opening day, Liverpool got off to the perfect start a week later when Missy Bo Kearns scored direct from a corner before Dean got her first two goals for the club to make it 3-0 at the break. 

Watford were a different team in the second half though, as Anne Meiwald’s thunderbolt gave them hope before skipper Helen Ward set up a grandstand finale but the Reds held on as the Golden Girls slipped to a second straight defeat. 

Watford goalkeeper Georgie Ferguson had already superbly saved from Ceri Holland when Melissa Lawley’s shot was deflected behind on four minutes and Kearns’ teasing corner went all the way in at the far post. 

Dean’s stooping header then dropped agonisingly wide but she had her first Liverpool goal on the half-hour mark when she picked the ball up outside the box and fired a strike into the top corner. 

And seven minutes later, the ex-Spurs striker made it 3-0 by expertly slotting home from Lawley’s sumptuous through-ball. 

Dean narrowly headed over in search of her hat-trick after half-time but Watford were a much better side as Rosie Kmita forced Rylee Foster into a sharp save and Ylenia Priest nodded just wide. 

The hosts got their reward on 78 minutes when defender Meiwald burst forward and brilliantly found the corner from the edge of the box, while the deficit was then reduced to 3-2 early in stoppage time when Kmita’s pinpoint cross from the left was headed past Foster by captain Ward. 

However, there was to be no last-gasp equaliser as Watford’s margin of defeat matched their opening-day 2-1 loss to Durham but Liverpool got their campaign started in earnest.

Watford goalscorer Anne Meiwald said: “The second half was a superb performance from everyone again but we left ourselves far too much to do from the first half. 

“Going to a back three after half-time gave us the width out wide to hit those long balls and really get at them in the wide areas. That really helped, it allowed me to get up and hit the ball in the back of the net, which is good. 

“They’re rare for me. To score a goal like that in this stadium was a great feeling but I wish it had come with the result as well. 

“It’s been a tough start to the season – Liverpool and Durham are both very good teams expected to do really well in this division. It’s encouraging signs that we feel we should have got a point out of each of those games though and hopefully we’ll get those results going forward. 

“It was amazing to have the fans back – we’ve really missed them these last two seasons. To have them here and the atmosphere behind us, the 12th person, it really makes a difference and I want to thank the fans who came out today. 

“The next game against Blackburn is a big one for us. We’ve had lots of lessons about what it takes to be a Championship team, we’ll take that forward and I think we’ll get the result next week.”