Esmee De Graaf

Foxes Conclude WSL Season With Narrow Spurs Defeat

LCFC Women left north London empty handed, losing 1-0 to Tottenham Hotspur in the final Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixture of 2021/22 on Sunday afternoon.
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Lydia Bedford opted to name an unchanged team from the goalless draw at Reading a week ago and the visitors started brightly at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Freya Gregory’s cross flicked towards goal by Missy Goodwin, who saw it blocked, and neither Shannon O’Brien or Sophie Howard converted another Gregory cross.

Tottenham were also on the front foot early on. Former Fox Rachel Williams’ clever pass sent Ashleigh Neville through on goal and Leicester needed Demi Lambourne to race out and smother the ball.

Maeva Clemaron then tried her luck from distance, but City’s No.1 was equal to it, while she was able to watch Eveliina Summanen’s long-range effort sail past the post.

City broke away themselves when Goodwin played in Gregory down the left and then got on the end of her latest ball into the box, volleying narrowly over the bar.

Neville was again the architect of Spurs’ next opportunity, cutting inside onto her left and curling an effort just wide of the upright. Rosella Ayane also fired wide of target, before Lambourne held her second attempt.

Back at the other end, Ashleigh Plumptre leaped highest to meet Abbie McManus’ free-kick, though Becky Spencer was able to claim and it was the home side who finished stronger, with Kerys Harrop marauding forward and her strike clipping the post on its way wide.

Clemaron had the first effort of the second period, dragging a shot wide, though it took a deflection on its way and Tottenham took advantage of the resulting set piece. Jessica Naz crossed for Neville to head home four minutes into the half, an early blow for the away side. 

Lambourne had to be alert again to rush out and deny Asmita Ale as the full-back tried to flick the ball over the ‘keeper, ahead of Ayane dragging another effort wide and Neville was not far away from hitting the target and adding to her tally.

New Zealand international CJ Bott – making her return from injury - and Natasha Flint were introduced into the fold by Bedford shortly after the hour mark, though City were unable to find a leveller. Spurs could have even grabbed a second when Molly Bartrip fired narrowly over the crossbar.

Ava Baker’s involvement from the bench, meanwhile, was an immediate spark, running onto Flint’s through ball and seeing a shot blocked, before Flint did well to control the ball in the box before firing wide. A third opportunity in quick succession arrived when Baker found herself free on the left, though was unable to pick out a team-mate in the middle.

With the clock ticking towards 90 minutes, a Flint free-kick was blocked and, in the subsequent melee in the area, Baker appeared to be hauled down, though referee Kirsty Dowle gave a free-kick the other way.

Though as City pushed more bodies forward, also bringing on Paige-Bailey Gayle and captain Sophie Barker, spaces opened up for the Lilywhites. A late foray forward from Spurs was led by the influential Neville's strong run and eventual shot, which Lambourne was equal to.

There was time for a stoppage-time strike from Flint, who was teed up by McManus, but she struck over the crossbar and ended hopes of a late equaliser.  

Major moment…

 

The only goal, coming shortly after the interval, proved to be the difference and though Leicester gave it everything in the second half to try and find a breakthrough after Ashleigh Neville’s opener, there was no way through.

Who impressed? 

 

Full-back Esmee De Graaf never stopped running throughout the 90 minutes, putting in an energetic performance up and down the right wing and was part of a backline that largely kept Spurs at bay.

Where do we stand?

 

City finish the campaign 11th in the WSL, collecting 13 points from 22 matches, finishing two points ahead of Birmingham City.

The details…

 

City: Lambourne; De Graaf, Howard, Plumptre, McManus (c), Purfield (Bott 64’); Goodwin (Flint 64’), Tierney, Pike (Barker 85’), Gregory (Baker 70’); O’Brien (Bailey-Gayle 85’).

Subs not used: Harris, Brougham, Devlin, Boddy.

Photo: Tottenham Hotspur FC

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