Liverpool Women’s hopes of securing the sole automatic promotion spot back to the WSL are fading after a string of dropped points to start 2021.
The turn of the year saw Liverpool hold onto the hope that they could push for promotion at the first time of asking, but just two games into 2021 and the Reds are well off the pace.
A defeat and a draw in addition to parting ways with manager Vicky Jepson have seen the Reds drift 10 points off leaders Leicester in the FA Championship.
They find themselves in a precarious position as they can only hold cross their fingers that others take points from their rivals while they bounce back to winning ways.
Lost 2-1 vs. Leicester
Drew 2-2 vs. Charlton
A postponement due to a frozen pitch at Prenton Park against Coventry has ensured the Reds have played only two games in 2021 to date, picking up just one point in that time.
The clash with the Foxes was one which had the ability to thrust Liverpool into the promotion debate and an early Missy Bo Kearns goal saw them take one step closer to that reality.
But two missteps in the form of a penalty to Leicester and a red card to Melissa Lawley just seconds after her introduction into the second half saw the Reds down to 10 before ultimately falling to a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat.
A snow-laden pitch then awaited at Charlton where a similarly crushing result would ensue after managing to come from a goal behind to hit the front, only for a late equaliser to deny interim manager Amber Whiteley’s side.
The prolific Rachel Furness got the first before debutant Ceri Holland converted, both from Ashley Hodson deliveries, in a hectic final 14 minutes which ended with Charlton making it 2-2.
The positives remain Liverpool finding a route to goal, but letting winning positions slip through their fingers has all but seen their promotion hopes end with a 10-point gap to overcome with just seven games remaining.
Jepson and Babajide Woes
Unfavourable results have also been compounded by two personnel issues for the Reds, with the first being the aforementioned departure of the manager and the second being a transfer request from the impressive Rinsola Babajide.
Jepson and the Reds parted ways midway through January, merely five days before their all-important clash with fellow promotion rivals Leicester.
It was cited as a departure by “mutual consent” and after falling to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Foxes the decision became more disconcerting.
A slow process to find the next in line for the manager role has left the Reds without a captain of a ship slowing taking on water, with the move one reported to have unsettled Babajide.
The attacker has six goals and three assists to her name this season and is one of the team’s most exciting talents, but a transfer request and multiple potential suitors spell trouble for Liverpool.
It sets up yet another vital summer for the Reds as they look to retain talent with a move back to the WSL not looking likely with points remaining not on their side in 2020/21.
League Points: 22 (4th)
Goals Scored (all comps): 25
Goals Conceded: 17
Top Goalscorer: Rachel Furness (7)
Most Assists: Rinsola Babajide (3)
Clean sheets: 6
London Bees (H) – Championship – Sunday, February 28 – 2pm (GMT)
Crystal Palace (A) – Championship – Sunday, March 7 – 2pm (GMT)
Blackburn (H) – Championship – Sunday, March 28 – 2pm (GMT)
Within the next month, the Reds will meet teams who all sit below them in the table in what will be the last roll of the dice for their season.
Their matchup with Coventry could also be re-arranged to sit within this run of games, which could see a new manager in charge after applications for the post closed on February 12.
With the season entering its final stages, a strong finish is in order irrespective of which division the Reds end up plying their trade in next season.