Natasha Flint

LCFC Women On A Roll With Blades Victory

LCFC Women's season gathered further steam on Sunday as a 2-1 victory over Sheffield United - the Foxes' sixth league success in a row - opened up a three-point gap at the FA Women's Championship summit.
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City, who were top at Christmas, began 2021 by making two changes to the starting XI with Scotland international Sophie Howard starting along with full debutant Liv Fergusson at Farley Way Stadium.

New goalkeeper Sophie Harris, meanwhile, was on the bench as the hosts went into the clash on the back of Jonathan Morgan and Natasha Flint scooping manager and player monthly accolades in December.

Sheffield United, though, were likely to pose a stern test for the Foxes, after only missing out on three points back in the return fixture, back in September, due to Flint's dramatic last-gasp spot-kick.

The former Blackburn Rovers striker almost struck against the Yorkshire side once again after just two minutes in Quorn, rattling the post with a fierce effort, while Paige-Bailey-Gayle couldn't get to the rebound.

Visiting goalkeeper Frances Kitching had to be alert shortly afterwards when Flint latched onto Fergusson's inventive through ball, saving well from the 24-year-old, but the linesman's flag was raised anyway.

On 23 minutes, Leicester were in front. It came about as Sophie Barker's corner landed to Ashleigh Plumptre to open her account for 2020/21 with a powerful header, with Kitching unable to get a hand to it.

An indirect free-kick then offered Flint a chance to go for goal inside the area, with Kitching stopping well, before Plumptre nodded a corner towards Howard to go for goal herself, forcing the Blades shot-stopper into a fine save.

Charlie Devlin was frustrated by the United 'keeper, too, before the break, with City looking to open a two-goal lead, but the Blades remained within a single goal of their hosts at the interval. 

Managed by former Leeds United men's manager Neil Redfearn, the visitors carried a heightened threat in the second period, with Courtney Sweetman-Kirk breaking free, but blazing over from an acute angle.

The introduction of Katie Wilkinson, last season's Championship Player of the Season, added further attacking menace to the Blades' line-up - and it was their No.9 who levelled the scores with a sweetly struck free-kick.

That 73rd-minute effort threatened to derail City's perfect run of consecutive league victories since 1 November, but it took just four minutes for Leicester to reassert their dominance on the scoresheet. 

After good work from substitute Lachante Paul down the flank, Remi Allen was able to keep the ball in play and locate Devlin who, in turn, found Flint to hit it with the outside of her boot into the far corner.

While the visitors strived forwards in hunt of a second equaliser to deny the Foxes, the home side were composed, sealing a sixth win in succession against a side considered by many to be big promotion candidates.

Major moment

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Natasha Flint
Natasha Flint

Natasha Flint took her 2020/21 tally up to 13 in all competitions.

Lesser teams may well have been disheartened by losing their lead midway through the season half, but LCFC Women have already demonstrated their mental resolve on several occasions this term.

It came in typically industrious fashion, too, as Lachante Paul ran relentlessly down the flank, before Remi Allen refused to allow the ball to trickle out of play, while there was no surprise in the quality of Natasha Flint's finish.

Who impressed?

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Remi Allen
Remi Allen

Remi Allen, left, was impressive once again for the Foxes.

The engine in the middle of City's line-up throughout the entire 2020/21 season has been Remi Allen - and Sunday's visit of Sheffield United was no different for the former Reading midfielder.

The LCFC Women Academy graduate, who achieved admirable success away from the Club, returned last summer and offered another reminder of her tireless midfield play against the Blades.

Where does it leave us?

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Ashleigh Plumptre
Ashleigh Plumptre

Ashleigh Plumptre opened the scoring for City - a fitting reward for her performances of late.

The Foxes remain top of the FA Women's Championship - a place they have occupied since early December - with 29 points and a goal difference of +20 from 12 outings so far in 2020/21.

Second-placed Durham, on the other hand, were held to a 1-1 draw by Lewes earlier in the day, meaning City now lead by three points at the league's apex.

Coming up

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Liv Fergusson
Liv Fergusson

There was a full debut for Liv Fergusson on Sunday.

A trip to Hayes Lane to tackle Crystal Palace in the quarter-finals of the Continental Tyres League Cup is next up on Thursday (8pm kick-off) before heading to Liverpool in the league on Sunday (2pm kick-off).

The details...

City: Levell; Smith, Tierney, Plumptre, Howard (Farrow 88'); Barker; Bailey-Gayle (De Graaf 78'), Allen, Devlin, Fergusson (Paul 67'); Flint.

Subs not used: Harris, Riglar, Cataldo, Thomas, Littlejohn, Cain.

Goals: Plumptre 23', Flint 77'.

All times GMT.

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