Hannah Cain

Champions LCFC Women Suffer Rare League Defeat At Lewes

LCFC Women suffered only their second FA Women's Championship defeat of the season as Lewes Women secured a 1-0 success in the penultimate game of the 2020/21 league campaign at The Dripping Pan on Sunday.

Grace Riglar, Lia Cataldo and Shannon O’Brien came in as City made three changes from the 1-0 Vitality Women’s FA Cup success over Liverpool last weekend, replacing Sam Tierney, Esmee De Graaf and Charlie Devlin down on the South Coast.

After receiving a gracious Guard of Honour from their hosts, marking the Club's recent Women's Championship title triumph, the action got underway in Sussex, with the Foxes deploying a 4-3-3 system, with Hannah Cain in the no.10 role.

It was Lewes, though, who started brightest with Ini Umotong seeing an effort blocked before Kirstie Levell made an excellent save to palm away Lucy Ashworth-Clifford’s drive.

City’s top goalscorer Natasha Flint had an attempt of her own blocked at the other end, while Sophie Howard couldn’t quite get enough power on her header after Remi Allen’s free-kick.

With 20 minutes on the clock, though, the Rooks were awarded a penalty after Ashworth-Clifford was felled in the area and Umotong stepped up to dispatch it from 12 yards out.

In the unfamiliar position of being behind in a league game for the first time since 17 January, the Foxes got to work in their efforts to find an equaliser.

First, Allen slid a quick-thinking short free-kick into Cain’s path, but the former Everton forward missed the target, before Barker was denied on the half volley by Tatiana Saunders in the Lewes net.

The visitors’ best chance of the half came on 35 minutes as Libby Smith charged onto the area, riding several challenges, but Saunders was there again to palm it away from danger.

After the restart, City retained their attacking endeavour with Smith firing wide from a tight angle, before Howard was ultimately injured trying to get on the end of Barker's corner from the left-hand side. De Graaf was the Scotland international's replacement. 

Lachante Paul would later join the action too, swiftly followed by Tierney and Devlin from the bench, but fifth-placed Lewes were defending resolutely in the warm yet windy conditions. Their best chance of the second half, though, came on 74 minutes as it dropped nicely for Flint.

Just inside the 18-yard box, the former Blackburn Rovers Ladies striker spun on the spot and aimed for the far bottom corner. Saunders, however, was able to get a hand to it and make an outstanding stop for the home side. The Rooks' No.1 was there again to catch Cain's curler minutes later too.

Despite Leicester's pressure, it could have got worse for the visitors when Ashworth-Clifford located substitute Filippa Savva in the area.

Her effort, however, was somehow blocked on the line by a combination of Riglar and Barker. City continued to push for a leveller as the temperatures cooled in Sussex and Flint was unlucky with a last-ditch shot at goal, before only Leicester's second league loss of the season was confirmed. 

Major moment

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The Dripping Pan
The Dripping Pan

Sunday's clash at The Dripping Pan was City's final away game of the league campaign.

As the action reached the midway point in the first half, Lewes were presented with the perfect opportunity to score the first goal against the Foxes since Liverpool did so in the middle of January when Ini Umotong stepped up for a penalty.

The Rooks forward opted for power, riffling it down the middle, evading Kirstie Levell and denying her a seventh consecutive clean sheet in all competitions. 

Who impressed?

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Ashleigh Plumptre
Ashleigh Plumptre

Defender Ashleigh Plumptre looks to win back possession for the Foxes in Lewes.

Leicester-born centre-back Ashleigh Plumptre has been so vital in helping City keep six clean sheets in a row in all competitions in recent weeks and, regardless of the frustrating outcome at The Dripping Pan, she was once again impressive on Sunday.

Whether it was organising her team-mates, or making last-ditch challenges, the 22-year-old proved her qualities yet again for the visitors, despite being unfortunate to concede the spot-kick for the Foxes. 

Where do we stand?

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LCFC Women
LCFC Women

The Foxes were afford a Guard of Honour by their hosts before kick-off in Sussex.

The champions hold an eight-point advantage at the top of the FA Women's Championship, currently sitting on 47 points with a goal difference of +34 after 19 matches this term.

Coming up…

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LCFC Women
LCFC Women

Leicester went into the clash with Lewes on a 12-game winning run in the league.

Leicester’s last outing of the 2020/21 FA Women’s Championship season is the visit of Charlton Athletic next Sunday (2pm kick-off), before the Foxes head to Manchester United in the fifth round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup on Sunday 16 May (2pm kick-off).

The details…

City: Levell; Howard (De Graaf 56'), Riglar, Plumptre, Cataldo (Tierney 65'); Allen, Barker (c), Cain; Smith (Devlin 65'), Flint, O’Brien (Paul 61').

Subs: Lambourne, Everett, Fleming, Farrow, Fergusson.

All times BST.

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