Seven years ago, the Women’s Super League was very different to what it is today. Eight teams competed in the 2013 season, with the title race still wide open when Liverpool hosted Chelsea on 17th August 2013.
Matt Beard’s Liverpool were chasing their first ever league title, having finished bottom of the league the previous year. Meanwhile, the visiting Blues were languishing in the lower reaches of the division, managed by Emma Hayes who had just replaced the outgoing Beard in 2012.
At the Halton Stadium, it was Chelsea who struck first inside two minutes through Sofia Jakobsson. Eniola Aluko doubled the Blues’ advantage six minutes later, giving the visitors early control of the game.
Fara Williams pulled one back when her free kick squeezed past Carly Telford in goal, before Nicole Rolser equalised from close range before the hour mark.
However, Liverpool’s hard work was undone by an own goal, Becky Easton heading the ball into her own net to put Chelsea back in front. Hayes’ side looked to be heading back to London with all three points, but Liverpool were not going down without a fight.
Natasha Dowie’s diving header drew the Reds level with seven minutes to go, before Rolser’s second of the game snatched all three points for the hosts. Two late goals in two minutes stole the win for Liverpool, who went three points clear at the top of the league.
Starting XI: Quantrilll; Bronze, Engen, Bonner, Schroder; Omarsdottir, Fors, Rolser, Williams; Da Costa, Dowie.
Substitutes: Laws, Easton, Longhurst.
Key Talking Point
Liverpool needed the win to keep their title hopes alive, but their defensive flaws were exposed as they went 2-0 down inside eight minutes. While they pulled one back soon after, the Reds had work to do to get anything from the game.
Beard’s side showed great character to get back into the game, but poor defending once again cost them to allow Chelsea to retake the lead. All hope looked to be lost, but Liverpool fought hard and stayed composed to score two late goals and win the game.
Their defence was certainly a problem, but for all their defensive weakness they made up for it with fantastic spirit and determination. The Reds were worthy winners at the Halton Stadium, deservedly coming away with all three points.
Starting XI: Telford; Buet, Holtham, Davies, Ingle; Ogimi, Dos Santos, Coombs, Bleazard; Jakobsson, Aluko.
Substitutes: Ward, Spence.
Key Talking Point
Chelsea proved they meant business right from the first whistle, with their high pressure and direct attacking football propelling them into a 2-0 lead. Goalkeeper Telford was unlucky to let Williams’ free kick in, but the Blues remained in control going into the break.
However, they went on to concede a scrappy equaliser and found themselves drawn back. Easton’s goal from some excellent work by Jakobsson put them back in front, but the west Londoners lost their concentration and organisation at the back, as Liverpool struck twice late in the game.
Hayes’ side were disappointed with the way they lost the game, but showed promise on that summer’s day in Cheshire. Chelsea had taken the league leaders right to the edge and put in a worthy performance, though it wasn’t enough to secure a much needed win.
What Aged the Best
Chelsea ended the season in seventh, just four points off the bottom. However, that proved to be the turning point for the Blues. One year later, they finished second in the league, only missing out on the title to Liverpool on goal difference.
Emma Hayes’ appointment in 2012 was a massive moment in Chelsea Women’s history, with the London-born manager revolutionising the Blues. They went on to win the double in 2015, before retaining both the Women’s Super League and FA Cup in 2018 with their second double.
Chelsea are now one of the finest women’s teams in the country, currently flying high in the league in their pursuit of a third league title. The west London side have come so far since that night in 2013, and are showing no sign of slowing down ahead of a prosperous decade.
What Aged the Worst
There couldn’t be a greater contrast between the fate of Chelsea and Liverpool. While the Reds went on to win back to back league titles in 2013 and 2014, Beard’s departure the following year was the start of the reigning champions’ sorry downfall.
Liverpool avoided relegation by five points in 2015, and have not won a single piece of silverware since their consecutive league titles. The Reds currently sit rooted to the bottom of the Women’s Super League, with just one solitary win in 14 games.
Liverpool may finally be approaching the end of their top flight stay, and in devastating fashion having once been the best team in the country. The Reds now find themselves fighting for survival, but how they wish for a return to the glory days of seven years ago.
What Happened Next?
Liverpool went unbeaten in their final six games of the season, including their 2-0 win over Bristol Academy on the final day. The title decider was settled thanks to goals from Louise Fors and Katrin Omarsdottir, as the Reds won the Women’s Super League for the first time ever.
On the other hand, Chelsea lost all four of their remaining games, managing just three goals. Despite losing all of their last six games of the season, the Blues avoided relegation by four points with a seventh place finish, the eventual turning point in the club’s history.
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