London City Lionesses take a trip to Prenton Park to face Liverpool for the final game of the 2020/21 FA Women’s Championship season.
The Lionesses have secured a sixth place finish this season and will have a tough challenge against the former Super League side who currently sit in third place.
The Pride come into this fixture after a weekend off, having last played in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup on April 16 which resulted in a 5-0 defeat to Chelsea.
London City Lionesses’ Head Coach, Melissa Phillips, has had her contract renewed for the 2021/22 season, following a successful first-season campaign. Looking towards next season, does Phillips think the Lionesses will develop and push further up the table?
Phillips said, “That’s the goal. I had come in as the assistant coach right as the pandemic had hit and our goal then was to move from the mid table spot into competing for a championship. That will always be the goal. We want to be at the top of the women's game, and we know that that's a process and a journey to get there. I think it's about having the right people, the right processes in place."
“Some of the things that we are proud of this season are that we've had a lot of special moments, a couple good runs throughout the league but ultimately we have had only one team who has turned us over for six points this season, so we have been very competitive. I am looking forward to our last opportunity against Liverpool to continue building a foundation for our success moving forward.”
Looking ahead at the Liverpool game, Phillips said “It's a huge opportunity for us. We’re focused on the long-term goals at this point, but I think this is an opportunity to propel us towards that and finish the season on a high. I think we’re an incredibly deserving group. I have been really proud of the performances we’ve had. Especially in our tough FA Cup and Conti Cup draws, to go out and be a hard-nosed, organised, tough, competitive group. I think this group has only scratched the surface of the success we’ll have in years to come.”
In response to the question of any challenges playing Liverpool will bring, Phillips said, “We look at each game as a big game, so Liverpool will be just that. It's a great opportunity for us to continue testing ourselves and I’ve said this after every game we're going to grow regardless of the result because there's going to be opportunities within the failures that we may have throughout the game and opportunities from successes to learn more about ourselves. I think it's important for us to go and focus on our performance as we always have“.
Speaking to Lionesses’ forward, Lucy Fitzgerald, about the mood in the camp ahead of the Liverpool game, she said, “The environment within the camp and the girls has been really good throughout the season. We have grown so much as a team and I think the whole squad is buying into Mel’s way of bringing the team together and way of working. Mel’s made the environment really positive, and we’ve all bought into that.”
Following a recent tough fixture against Super League side, Chelsea, and looking ahead to facing a former Super League side on Sunday, what has Fitzgerald learned from her respective opponents?
She said, “Their physicality has stood out to me. When we played Chelsea, their physicality was just next level. Their acceleration off one to two yards was just incredible. To reach that next level, the physicality between the two leagues is the biggest difference at the moment. Us young players can grow and just learn the best we can from them and keep developing.”
Due to London City Lionesses participating in the social media boycott over the weekend to help battle the on-going issues surrounding racism and online abuse, there will be no live match updates on the London City Lionesses Twitter feed this Sunday. English football, alongside other sports, organisations and individuals, will switch off social media accounts from 3pm 30 April until 11.59pm on Monday 3 May.