Liverpool FC Women returned from their international break this weekend to a special treat - 200 fans were allowed into their home stadium of Prenton Park to watch the Reds take on Crystal Palace, for the first time since the pandemic began.
Just as 2000 fans were allowed into Anfield later in the same day, the Women playing across the river had the benefit of Liverpool fans watching from the goal end, shouting and showing their support in the best way that they could. And it paid off, as Liverpool completely dominated Palace, scoring four times and keeping a clean sheet to secure all three points.
In a league as tight as the FA Women’s Championship, with only one team being promoted at the end of the season, every match and every point count.
There was so much good to this match, as well, outside the fans returning. Liverpool well and truly controlled the match, with Crystal Palace rarely getting a sniff at goal. Amy Rodgers returned from injury and scored the second goal of the day in the first half. Rinsola Babajide scored a brace, celebrating her Player of the Month status, and Amalie Thestrup got on the scoresheet as well, scoring her third for the season so far.
There was very little to complain about, really, as the Women showed just how much they truly deserve to be promoted back to the Super League - although at this point they are still third in the table behind Durham and first place Leicester City.
The first goal came literally two minutes in, as Rinsola Babajide picked up a peach of a pass from Rachel Furness, with Babajide shooting low and getting just behind goalkeeper Chloe Morgan.
The second came from Amy Rodgers after another assist by Rachel Furness, and Rodgers shot with power through five defenders and into the back of the net to double the scoring for the Reds.
Crystal Palace got a bit more of a foothold in the match after those two goals, with Leeta Rutherford taking a chance at a shot that went wide after Taylor Hinds intervened. Liverpool maintained majority control over the match through the first half, and though they weren’t able to stretch that lead, there was a calmness in that control that things would work out.
Amalie Thestrup came on just before the halftime break as Ashley Hodson came off with a hamstring problem, and it would be Thestrup that would score the third in the second half. Cutting inside the penalty area, our Danish star fired a shot well past Morgan to make it three for the Reds with 15 minutes to go.
Then of course, into stoppage time, it would be Babajide again bookending the match with a fourth goal, consolidating the win and the three points for the Reds.
It was as calm and composed a match as any fan could hope for, whether at the stadium, at home, or abroad like me. Seeing this team finally come together, as well, through this incredible season, has been one of the few joys of 2020 and though there are still plenty of matches to play, there is a lot of hope that they will overtake Leicester and get promoted in the end. This is what they had been working towards, after all the struggles of last season, and their performances in the Continental Cup has proved that they do deserve to be back in the Super League, competing against teams of that level like our Premier League rivals.
Even manager Vicky Jepson had high praise for the players following the match, saying that it was “the best start I’ve seen from us."
“Certainly the way we applied ourselves in possession in the final third and making the runs in behind, it was great. Rins got two goals, so I know she’ll be delighted and to see Amalie get back on the scoresheet was great. So it was good day for us,” Jepson told the club website following the match.
As many of their problems previously had come through an inability to find connections in the final third, to see that the manager pointed that out as a strength on the day is a huge improvement. That struggle to make and take advantage of chances has always been a big weakness of Liverpool’s and they have improved on it brilliantly this season - this 4-0 win a case in emphatic point.
The win puts Liverpool in third place with 18 points, just one behind second place Durham and two behind first place Leicester City. Their next match is next Sunday the 13th of December, against London City Lionesses - which will hopefully also be free to watch on YouTube and LFCTV Go.