The defender, a legend in the game, is to take up a new role working for the England women’s national team under new manager Phil Neville, and her arrival on the pitch before kick-off was greeted by a guard of honour by both teams.
After previous back-to-back defeats in the Women’s Super League, this was an important victory for Scott Rogers’ charges and the Reds moved six points clear of the Lady Black Cats and into third spot ahead of Arsenal.
Jess Clarke netted twice and Bethany England also continued her rich vein of goalscoring form.
Once the action got under way, Liverpool Ladies quickly took the game to their opponents.
On four minutes a lovely move around the edge of the Sunderland penalty area saw Ali Johnson release England in space but her first-time effort went just wide of the post.
Clarke was proving to be a real threat on the right flank as her pace and direct play caused the Sunderland backline a lot of problems.
So it was no surprise that she broke the deadlock on 18 minutes. The goal owed much to a surging run down the left flank from England star Alex Greenwood, and her superb low cross found the No.9, who made no mistake as she drilled the ball beyond the reach of Rachael Laws.
The away side were proving dangerous on the counter-attack, though, and ex-Red Lucy Staniforth went close with a curled effort from the edge of the box that was well stopped by Becky Flaherty.
Greenwood came close to making it 2-0 on 31 minutes when her snap-shot just cleared the bar after more excellent work down the right from Clarke.
A minute later Sunderland drew level. The vision of Staniforth created an opening with a fine pass that found Dominique Bruinenberg, who produced a superb finish beyond the reach of Flaherty into the bottom corner.
The away side almost took the lead a minute before the break when Bridget Galloway’s cross from the right flank almost went into the net, but the Ladies goalkeeper showed tremendous reflexes to keep the effort out.
Five minutes after the restart the Reds regained the lead and it was the same combination as provided the opener. Greenwood did brilliantly down the left and her cross was met by an excellent header from Clarke to claim her second goal of the evening.
And it was soon 3-1. Laura Coombs’ pass sent Caroline Weir racing away down the left and the Scotland international laid the ball into the path of England, who made no mistake from close range.
She came close to extending the lead further when another rampaging run from Greenwood saw the ball fall kindly to the No.11 in the penalty area. The striker turned and saw her goalbound effort somehow blocked away for a corner by ex-Red Ellie Stewart.
Stoney left the field to a tremendous ovation from the Liverpool Ladies supporters in the final minute of the game, having enjoyed a winning end to what has been a memorable playing career.
Liverpool Ladies: Flaherty, Turner, Greenwood, Stoney (Longhurst, 90), Harris, Ingle, Johnson, Coombs, Clarke, Weir, England (Babajide, 85).
Subs not used: Ramsey, Rodgers, Hodson.