Liverpool returned to action at Prenton Park after the international break, and for the first time this season, there were 900 fans present to root on the Reds. The pesky Blackburn Rovers, who held Liverpool to a draw in the last game before the break, managed to keep the league leaders, Durham, to a draw, so Liverpool were given an opportunity to gain ground in the race for promotion.
Vicky Jepson gave starts to Amy Rodgers, Ashley Hodson, and Meikayla Moore. Ashley Hodson was given the point striker role after impressing playing in several roles against Blackburn, while Moore was finally given a start in her preferred role as a central defender. Amy Rodgers got a start in central midfield as she has worked her way to fitness after an injury layoff. All three would repay Jepson’s faith with positive performances.
Liverpool were all over Crystal Palace from the off, scoring in just the second minute of the game. The move was started from midfield, with a nice pass from Rodgers wide to Rinsola Babajide, who the played a nice one-two with Rachel Furness on the edge of the box before bursting towards goal and slotting the ball past the keeper. It was one of the slickest sequences of the season for the Reds.
Liverpool kept the pressure on Crystal Palace for the rest of the half. Amy Rodgers and Razza Roberts bossed the midfield, leaving Furness free to roam into pockets of space. Rodgers in particular showed an impressive passing range, playing balls into dangerous areas for Babajide, Melissa Lawley, Rachel Furness, and Ashley Hodson.
Hodson, for her part provided intelligent movement up front, sometimes dropping deep to combine with the midfielders, and at other times drawing her defender wide to leave gaps for the other attackers to exploit. Her passing and vision
The other big difference was the Meikayla Moore’s aggressive play from center back. She was involved several times in the first half, stepping up into midfield to make a tackle or win a 50-50 ball to break up any chance of a counter.
Liverpool were in the goals again in the 32nd minute, with Furness again playing provider. The Northern Irish international slid a pass for the onrushing Amy Rodgers to lash home a grasscutter into the bottom corner. It was a well deserved goal for the 20 year old.
The only negative from the first half was Ashley Hodson going down with what looked like a hamstring injury just two minutes from halftime. Hodson was replace with Amalie Thestrup as the Reds took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
Chrystal Palace came out charged up in the second half, and made the game a scrappy affair for a good 15 minutes before Liverpool finally took control again. Missy Bo Kearns replaced Amy Rodgers in a pre-planned sub, and the 19 year old Scouser immediately got involved with some slide rule passes.
Liverpool generated a bevy of good chances, but couldn’t convert again until the 75th minute. For the third time of the day, Rachel Furness provided the assist, but the goal was all about Amalie Thestrup. Furness played a ball that had Thestrup running at an angle away from the right side of the goal. She somehow was able to swivel her hips at full speed to rip a shot back across her body and across the face of the goal into the inside of the side netting. It was a stunning strike for Thestrup’s third goal of the season.
Liverpool were well in control for the rest of the match. The Reds brought on 16 year old Lucy Parry at left back to give the consistently stellar Taylor Hinds a rest. Rinsola Babajide stung the palms of the Crystal Palace keeper with a long range effort, but the ball was well parried. Babajide wouldn’t be denied again, however, as the England international tucked away a tidy finish in extra time for her second, and the teams fourth goal of the game.
All in all, it was an absolutely dominating performance from a Liverpool side who had dropped points the previous two games. In all honesty, it easily could have been a 7-0 or 8-0 win. With the win, Liverpool stay third in a very crowded top of the table. Leicester City sit in first with 20 points, while Durham dropped to second on 19 points. Liverpool are third with 18 points, with Sheffield United nipping at their heels with 17 points.
Liverpool will travel to London City next weekend before a massive fixture away to Durham in two weeks time. With Liverpool starting to hit the reverse fixtures, they can’t afford to drop points in a very tight battle for promotion to the WSL.