Following a minute’s silence on Remembrance Sunday, it was a scrappy start to proceedings in Quorn, with Katie Rood hitting the side netting for Lewes after 11 minutes.
However, in the 29th minute, the Foxes were able to break free of the quagmire with a long ball landing to Bailey-Gayle in behind the defence – and the No.17 made no mistake with an emphatic finish.
In possession of a one-goal lead, the home side attempted to keep the ball and build from there, but Lewes continued in their attempt to try and hurry them with a persistent pressing game.
After the break, meanwhile, City went close through Bailey-Gayle again, forcing Laura Hartley into a decent stop, as the Foxes remained admirably patient against an effective and organised defensive block.
Leicester so nearly doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second period when Annabel Blanchard nodded De Graaf’s cross towards goal. Hartley, though, brilliantly got a hand to it.
Bailey-Gayle almost turned provider, too, when she broke free and crossed for Lachante Paul, who couldn’t quite apply a finish at the far post, such was the pace on the cross.
The home side continued to dominate possession, probing throughout the latter moments of the second half but, more often than not, Lewes were able to clear the danger just in time.
Half chances continued to come Leicester’s way, notably to second-half substitute Millie Farrow, but it did not matter in the end, as the Foxes held out for their fourth league success of the 2020/21 campaign.
Paige Bailey-Gayle struck midway through the first half to ultimately win the game for the Foxes.
Naturally, in any one-goal victory, the only goal of the game carries added significance and Paige Bailey-Gayle’s 29th-minute effort was worthy of winning any match.
Taking down a high ball, which had evaded everyone in the Lewes defence, before hitting a side-footed strike beyond Laura Hartley, it was a typically confident hit from Bailey-Gayle.
The young City forward was a regular thorn in the side of the Lewes defenders.
Forever a menace for defenders, Paige Bailey-Gayle continued to cause problems for the Lewes backline at every turn at Farley Way Stadium with her ferocious pace and unique skill.
The poise required for her first-half winner was commendable, taking down an awkward ball to slot it past Laura Hartley, while she endeavoured to link up with her colleagues until the final moments.
Where does it leave us?
Esmee De Graaf
Leicester remain within touching distance of top spot in the FA Women's Championship.
LCFC Women stay fourth in the FA Women’s Championship, but go within one point of leaders Durham, who rescued a late 1-1 draw with Charlton Athletic earlier in the day.
City are on 14 points, level with Sheffield United and Liverpool, both above Leicester on goal difference, after the Reds beat the Blades 1-0 at Prenton Park.
LCFC Woman, managed by Jonathan Morgan, are back in action next Sunday.
The Foxes travel to Butts Park Arena next Sunday for an FA Women’s Championship clash with Coventry United (2pm kick-off), before tackling Birmingham City in a Continental League Cup Group E decider at Damson Park the following Wednesday (7:30pm kick-off).
City: Levell; Smith, Tierney, Plumptre, De Graaf; Barker (c), Allen, Blanchard (Devlin 67’); Paige Bailey-Gayle, Paul (Farrow 67’); Flint.
Subs: Lambourne, Riglar, Everett, Cataldo, Howard, Thomas, Fergusson.
Goals: Bailey-Gayle 29’.
All times GMT.
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