Signs of promise

Women’s football is back! Oh how wonderful it is to finally say those four words after a 196-day absence.

Life as we know it changed in the snap of a finger in March and for those of us who had witnessed West Ham Women beating Liverpool 4-2 in February ahead of the international break, the season being curtailed seemed like a pipe dream.

A number of sports were suspended until a decision could be made as to whether they could continue in the new world of Covid-19.

Women’s football was one of those that made the decision to end prematurely. It clearly wasn’t a easy one to make for the authorities but with the knock-on effect heading into the 20-21 season and the costs concerning Covid testing, it was clear for all to see why such a choice was made.

Heading into the weekend just gone, women’s football was returning after a busy summer transfer window.

West Ham weren’t alone in players moving on and bringing in new additions to strengthen their squad.

Those signings somehow felt like normality as we continued to abide to social distancing rules — it gave us something to focus on away from the realities of a global pandemic.

So watching the Hammers walk out onto The Hive for the match against Tottenham Hotspur Women filled the void that many of us were missing.

We would have all loved to have been there for a match against our close rivals but until such a time as we are allowed, following the game from home is a worthy substitute.

After a patchy season where inconsistencies had let us down, our squad looked to have much more depth than ever before.

New signings such as Maz Pacheco and Katerina Svitokova slotted in seemlessly; clearly benefitting from spending time with the squad in pre-season.

We were treated to the further debuts of Emily Van Egmond and Rachel Daly, both of whom had positive effect when introduced on the field.

Adrianna Leon’s stunning goal brought us back into the tie after an unfortunate own goal from Grace Fisk while Mackenzie Arnold impressed as our new goalkeeper.

While there were moments throughout the 90 minutes when we clearly weren’t our best, securing a point from the tie was an indication of how far the squad has come a year on.

That wouldn’t have been a game we would have clawed our way back into and as some of our later additions to our squad settle in, the performances are only going to get better and better.

It offers hope. Hope at a time when many of us are unsure of how the world is going to look in the space of a week let alone where it will be in six months.

There’s still a long way to go and in what may be the most unusual of seasons, supporting West Ham Women is going to offer the greatest comfort of all.