Here, in her own words, Palace's Women's newly appointed captain, Annabel Johnson, talks through how the armband was awarded to her plus the team's start to the season.
The manager called me during lockdown and asked me if I’d like to captain the club. And although all clichés, it doesn’t make them any less real when I say I was honoured to be asked and I’m proud to wear the armband.
I’ve been in the women’s game for 10 years now, so I do view myself as a leader due to the experience I have, but for Dean to have that confidence in me and see that, too, meant a lot.
Free digital matchday programme: Crystal Palace Women v London City Lionesses10 September 2020
The situation I’ve come in to as captain, with seven months between our last game of the 2019/20 season to our opener against Charlton Athletic earlier this month, is a bizarre one. And that has helped me to a certain extent in my new role, because everyone was returning for a fresh start and desperate to play, plus we’ve had several new faces join the squad.
One of those new additions was Chloe Morgan, who communicates to the defence extremely well. Furthermore, Lizzie Waldie has come in alongside me in central defence, too; she was part of the squad last season but after confident performances in pre-season she was been handed her chance and has taken it.
In fact, those two have been our Players of the Matches in our two opening games, which is pleasing for us as a defensive unit and helps build confidence throughout the team that the defence are tighter this time – we know last season we conceded too many goals, and we are aiming to correct that this time.
It’s clear to us all that we’ve gone up a level. In our season-opener against Charlton, although the late equaliser was tough to take, our stats for passes and attacks in the final third were the highest they’ve ever been. That performance laid down the marker of what we can do and carry forward throughout the rest of the season.
London City Lionesses are a full-time team, so to get a draw against them, in a different manner – through defensive determination – was another pleasing example that we’ve improved on last season. We might perhaps have let that game get away from us last season.
We face Blackburn Rovers today, who were in this league last season. However, they are a bit of an unknown quantity this time as they’ve had a squad overhaul - when we played them last season, they were physical and their game management was fantastic and it ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat.
This time we will be at home, though, something we weren’t able to have with lockdown preventing Rovers coming to south London in the return fixture. I spoke to the girls after the London City game, and we want to make our home of Hayes Lane an intimidating place to come to; a fortress. It’s off to a good start but it must continue tomorrow.
The Palace Women's programme for Sunday's game is now available to read for free below!