Jemma Purfield

Late Heartbreak For City As Brighton Snatch Victory

LCFC Women came within seconds of claiming their first point of the campaign in Sunday’s narrow 1-0 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion at AMEX Stadium.
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Just one switch from the side that was defeated by Manchester City in Leicester’s last Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixture saw Sophie Howard come in for Paige Bailey-Gayle.

There was also a change of system with Leicester reverting to a three-at-the-back system for the clash on the south coast. The hosts, who have had their best-ever start to a top-flight season, enjoyed a lot of early possession without testing Kirstie Levell.

However, the Leicester shot-stopper was called into action for the first time just after the 15-minute mark, parrying Danielle Carter’s deflected effort away from danger to keep the scores level.

The away side had a chance of their own shortly after, when Molly Pike played a neat ball through for Esmee De Graaf to run onto and see her shot parried by Seagulls ‘keeper Megan Walsh.

Few other opportunities were created before the break, though Ferne Whelan did spring the offside trap and looked to be in on goal, before Foxes captain Abbie McManus slid in to prevent her shot reaching the target.

The second half was initially lacking in goalmouth action, though just after the hour mark Megan Connolly tried her luck from a free-kick positioned in line with the corner of the 18-yard box, but couldn’t keep her attempt on target, as Levell watched it sail over the bar.  

Whelan then latched onto the end of Fliss Gibbons’ through ball and her low cross was cut out by McManus. A goalmouth scramble ensued in the Leicester box from Connolly’s corner, before Levell held on to Seagulls skipper Victoria Williams’ header.

Leicester started to see more of the ball as the game entered the final 20 minutes, which also signalled the arrival of Bailey-Gayle, introduced into the action in place of Shannon O’Brien on the left wing, adding fresh impetus to City’s attack.

The visitors might have snatched all three points when Jemma Purfield’s free-kick was flicked on for Georgia Brougham to head towards goal – but she was unable to beat Walsh from close range.

And after Natasha Flint replaced Jess Sigsworth, the Foxes went even closer to an opener. McManus’ cross landed at Sam Tierney’s feet, but her shot was blocked, before Brougham turned the ball home – though referee Ryan Atkin had already spotted an infringement and awarded Brighton a free-kick.

In a frantic final few minutes, a flurry of chances were created. Seagulls substitute Inessa Kaagman’s curling cross was met by Emma Koivisto, who couldn’t keep her effort down. Katie Robinson also fired over the crossbar with her first touch of the game.

At the other end, McManus connected with Purfield’s corner and Walsh was equal to it, before the sucker-punch came during added time, in the 93rd-minute. It was going to take something special to break the deadlock and Maisie Symonds managed to provide it with a superb free-kick which curled into the far top corner and sealed the win for the hosts in front of 3,566 supporters at AMEX Stadium.

Major moment… 

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Kirstie Levell
Kirstie Levell

Kirstie Levell was a dominant presence between the sticks for the Foxes.

It was a battling performance from the Foxes, who defended resolutely and had several opportunities of their own on the south coast. However, they were unable to claim a precious first WSL draw courtesy Maisie Symonds’ wonder strike.

Who impressed?

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LCFC Women
LCFC Women

It was a real team performance from the Foxes.

Shannon O’Brien was a bright spark for the Foxes on the left-hand side, particularly in the first half, but it was captain Abbie McManus who marshalled the troops at the back and was a calming influence throughout. The defensive display from the whole team deserved to earn a point on the road.

Where does it leave us?

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Jess Sigsworth
Jess Sigsworth

The Foxes forward also helped back to complete her defensive duties.

Leicester remain 12th in the Barclays FA Women's Super League standings, yet to get off the mark after their opening seven top-flight fixtures.

Coming up… 

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Sam Tierney
Sam Tierney

Sam Tierney battles with Geum-min Lee for possession in the midfield.

LCFC Women turn their attention to the Continental Tyres League Cup next Wednesday, travelling to face FA Women’s Championship leaders Durham in their second group stage fixture at Maiden Castle Sports Park (7pm kick-off).

The Foxes’ next league encounter is on Sunday 21 November, when they welcome Everton to Pirelli Stadium (2pm kick-off).

The details…

City: Levell; Brougham, McManus (c), Plumptre, Howard, Purfield, Pike, Tierney, Purfield; O’Brien (Bailey-Gayle 69’), Sigsworth (Flint 75’), De Graaf.

Subs not used: Lambourne, Barker.

All times GMT.

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