Liverpool face crucial month in Women’s Championship after promotion setback

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Liverpool FC Women’s unbeaten run to the season came to a halt in October, a month which saw Man United toppled in the League Cup but valuable points dropped in the Championship.

Vicky Jepson’s side headed into their next batch of fixtures throughout October and early November off the back of an unbeaten run which stretched to four games in the league and saw them settle in the top spot of the FA Women’s Championship.

And while a notable win over the WSL’s Man United arrived in the League Cup, the Reds would go on to pick up just one point from an available six in the league to slip to third place.

It represents a missed opportunity for Liverpool after a strong start to the campaign, and their next league fixture has swiftly become a must-win with only one team earning promotion from the division.

Here we take a look at the second month of Liverpool’s season and what is next on the agenda.

 

Results

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 27, 2020: Liverpool's Melissa Lawley during the FA Women’s Championship game between Liverpool FC Women and Charlton Athletic Women FC at Prenton Park. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Won 3-1 vs. Man United (League Cup)
Lost 2-1 vs. Leicester
Drew 2-2 vs. Lewes
Lost 3-0 vs. Man City (League Cup)


The Reds continued to hit the ground running at the start of October, emphatically toppling Man United in the League Cup to the tune of 3-1 to put the first three points on the board in the group stage.

Liverpool’s defence and midfield unit were quick to gain ascendancy and control in proceedings and while a poor clearance saw United strike first, three unanswered goals came the Reds’ way.

Rachel Furness continued her rich vein of form with a double, first from the penalty spot before a back-post header, with Rinsola Babajide’s own penalty sandwiched in between on an afternoon which saw Jess Clarke and debutant Rylee Foster thrive.

The result saw Jepson’s team stretch their unbeaten start to the season across all competitions to five, but while hopes had been that it would serve as another timely catalyst, a defeat came the following matchday.

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 27, 2020: Liverpool's Rachel Furness celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Women’s Championship game between Liverpool FC Women and Charlton Athletic Women FC at Prenton Park. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool made the trip to Leicester, a side who finished sixth in the Championship last season, and found themselves two goals down by the 56th minute.

Clarke would peg one back from close range but, in the end, they were unable to see their pressure on the ball reflected on the scoreboard and returned to Merseyside empty-handed.

Next up were Lewes FC in what proved to be a frustrating affair, as Liverpool were twice pegged back from a winning position after both Amalie Thestrup and Babajide found the net.

Akin to the defeat to the Foxes, it was a case of a lack of a clinical edge which proved costly in addition to not controlling the game after assuming a lead.

For Jepson, while disappointed with the result, it was another crucial point added to the tally, as she said: “There’s a long way to go and we are still in a good place for what we want to achieve this season, which is winning this league and getting promotion.”

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 6, 2020: Liverpool’s Women's manager Vicky Jepson speaks with players after the FA Women’s Championship game between Liverpool FC Women and Durham Women FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

A 3-0 defeat at the hands of the newly crowned FA Cup winners Man City would follow in the League Cup to round off a run of games which returned four points from a possible 12 in all competitions.

The Reds now sit third in the division, three points behind both Durham and Sheffield United – the latter of whom is next up for Jepson’s side.

 

Player of the Month: Jess Clarke

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 27, 2020: Liverpool's Jessica Clarke during the FA Women’s Championship game between Liverpool FC Women and Charlton Athletic Women FC at Prenton Park. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite a mixed run of results, this was a hotly contested gong with the likes of Furness, Babajide and Rhiannon Roberts all putting their hands up.

But Clarke is given the nod here in what has been a bright month of performances which saw the winger make three starts out of a possible four.

Against United in the cup, Clarke was a consistent threat, and her tenacity to keep the ball alive on the byline was rewarded as she was bundled over in the box – a woman-of-the-match performance.

And while it ended in defeat, she gave the Reds a fighting chance in their bid to overturn a two-goal deficit at Leicester after failing to give up on the ball on the goal-line to notch her first of the season.

 

Quickfire Stats

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 27, 2020: Liverpool's Rinsola Babajide during the FA Women’s Championship game between Liverpool FC Women and Charlton Athletic Women FC at Prenton Park. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

League Points: 11 (3rd)
Goals Scored (all comps): 16
Goals Conceded: 10
Top Goalscorer: Rachel Furness (six)
Debuts: Rylee Foster, Mia Ross
Milestones: Rinsola Babajide (50th appearance)

 

What’s Next?

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 27, 2020: Liverpool players form a pre-match huddle before the FA Women’s Championship game between Liverpool FC Women and Charlton Athletic Women FC at Prenton Park. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sheffield United (H) – Championship – Sunday, November 8 – 2pm (GMT)
Blackburn (A) – Championship – Sunday, November 15 – 2pm (GMT)
Everton (A)League Cup – Wednesday, November 18 – 7pm (GMT)
Crystal Palace (H) – Championship – Sunday, December 6 – 2pm (GMT)


The next four-game run for Jepson’s side sees one League Cup meeting amid three all-important league fixtures, with the former pitting the Reds against cross-town rivals Everton.

Sheffield United currently sit at the top of the Championship and will present a stern test having scored a league-high 16 goals in addition to having the best defence with just three goals conceded.

Blackburn and Crystal Palace, meanwhile, sit in eighth and ninth place respectively, and Liverpool should be confident of securing maximum points with both teams possessing a negative goal difference.

It’s another crucial month for Liverpool in their bid to secure promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking.

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