The Blues forward was part of the Team GB side that lost to Canada in the quarter-finals at London 2012, but she returned to domestic duty with a real showcase of her talents.
Goals from Jodie Taylor and Chelsea Weston got Blues on their way before Carney rounded the scoring off. Bonnie Horwood pulled one back for Lincoln, but the result was never in doubt.
Blues welcomed back Carney and Rachel Williams to the starting line-up following their London returns, but were without the injured Rachel Unitt and Eni Aluko who was preparing to sit exams.
Lincoln were able to call on Sophie Bradley and Jess Clarke following their Team GB exploits, but the Lady Imps were without influential captain Casey Stoner as she served her suspension for the red card picked up against Liverpool.
The visitors kept the ball well in the early exchanges, but Blues had the two best chances early on. Jo Potter struck a long-range free-kick that was comfortably held by Nicola Hobbs and Rachel Williams fired wide after good work down the left-flank from Isobel Christiansen and Kerys Harrop.
Carney then struck a 25-yard free-kick that had Hobbs at full stretch to tip around the post, before the England international hit the bar at the back post from the resultant corner.
It was a good period of pressure for Blues and Carney whipped in a corner that was almost turned into the Lady Imps’ net for an own goal, but Hobbs was alert to claw the ball back off the line.
Set-pieces were looking the most likely source of an early goal and a Jo Potter corner was nodded wide at the back-post by Williams.
The Blues were piling the pressure on the Lady Imps’ defence and it was not long before they broke through. In the 17th minute, Weston’s long diagonal pass caught the Lincoln defence flat-footed and Taylor stole in to poke the ball around Harris before tapping her 10th goal of the season into an empty net.
Lincoln were struggling with balls into the box and it nearly worked again for Blues as Potter’s free-kick fell to Harrop who fired the ball across the box and Taylor touched it just wide. Blues should have extended their lead in the 24th minute when Jade Moore seized on a loose ball in midfield and charged through defence but she fired straight at a busy Hobbs.
Lincoln tried to mount a comeback a minute later as Carla Cantrell spread play out wide to the left-flank where Jess Clarke cut inside and curled an effort just wide. On the half-hour mark, Clarke was again given space down the Blues’ right side, but her carbon-copy effort from minutes before again went just wide.
The half had begun to peter out, but on the stroke of half-time Blues doubled their advantage. Potter’s hanging corner was headed clear to the edge of the box, Isobel Christiansen’s effort was blocked but the rebound fell to Weston who rifled in from just outside the area.
Lincoln replaced Sophie Walton with Precious Hamilton at the break, but it was Blues who started the second period in brighter fashion. A slack pass in midfield was picked up by the impressive Potter, but her shot went harmlessly over. Blues were then almost caught out by a short-corner as Horwood picked up the ball up free on the edge of the area, but her curled effort went marginally over.
It was indicative of the way the second half had begun that Lincoln’s Remi Allen was booked for a scrappy tackle from behind on Christiansen. However, the half then exploded into life as Carney curled in the resultant magnificent free-kick in from 25 yards.
However, Lincoln responded immediately as Horwood converted a ball in to back post from the right side with a classy flicked finish across Hourihan.
Blues tried to instantly regain their three goal advantage but Williams forced a good low save from Hobbs after good work from Carney down the left-flank. The Team GB star was beginning to have a real influence on the game and her cross gave Taylor a golden opportunity but the striker’s header was straight at the Lincoln goalkeeper.
Horwood came close to doubling her goals tally for the day as she strode onto a clever corner just outside the box, but her effort was deflected and cleared off the line by Jade Moore.
Lincoln made their final change in the 78th minute as Megan Sergant replaced Laura who had been booked moments earlier for tripping Williams.
Blues were comfortable in the dying stages of the game and could have made it four when Williams slipped Taylor through, but the striker could not double her tally for the day as her shot struck the post.
Blues Ladies: Marie Hourihan; Chelsea Weston, Laura Bassett (C), Emily Westwood, Kerys Harrop; Karen Carney, Jo Potter, Jade Moore, Isobel Christiansen; Rachel Williams, Jodie Taylor
Unused subs: Emily Simpkins, Anna Wilcox, Hannah George, Harley Simpson, Marie Ballard, Christina Torkildsen.
Goals: Taylor (17), Weston (44), Carney (60)
Lincoln Ladies: (Numerical order) Nicola Hobbs; Laura Alleway, Rachel Daly, Sophie Bradley, Carla Cantrell, Remi Allen, Jess Clarke, Bonnie Harwood, Sophie Walton (Precious Hamilton 46), Sophie Barker, Lucy Staniforth (Megan Harris 68)
Unused subs: Martha Harris, Meaghan Sergant, Emily Roberts.
Player of the Match: Karen Carney