LCFC Women

Reviewing LCFC Women’s Debut WSL Campaign

The main objective was achieved for LCFC Women in 2021/22 as the Foxes maintained Barclays FA Women’s Super League status for a second season.
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It was far from an easy task for the side promoted to the top-flight for the first time as FA Women’s Championship champions, following a successful first season as a professional team.

The summer brought widespread change, with nine players released and eight coming in during the transfer window, including former Manchester United pair Abbie McManus and Jess Sigsworth, Georgia Brougham and Molly Pike from Everton, ex-Birmingham City duo Abbi Grant and Connie Scofield, as well as Bristol City’s Jemma Purfield and later Luana Zajmi.

There was also stability in the form of nine key players from the title-winning squad signing new contracts to remain at the Club until at least 2023. Last season’s top scorer and Supporters’ Player of the Season, Natasha Flint agreed a new deal, alongside fellow forward Paige Bailey-Gayle.

New captain Sophie BarkerLachante Paul and Hannah Cain all agreed to extend their stays with the Foxes, alongside Sam Tierney and Esmee De Graaf, who would both continue their LCFC Women careers.

Goalkeepers Kirstie Levell and Demi Lambourne also joined Ashleigh Plumptre and Charlie Devlin in committing their futures to the Club.

Women

McManus Nets City's First WSL Home Goal

Abbie McManus was on the scoresheet during her LCFC Women home debut against former club Manchester United at King Power Stadium.

After much build-up and anticipation, the campaign began on Saturday 4 September, 2021, with City travelling across the Midlands to take on Aston Villa at Banks’s Stadium in Walsall.

A dream start for the visiting Foxes saw Flint open her account for the season with City’s maiden WSL goal, though a crazy two-minute period after the break allowed the hosts to take the points, as Sarah Mayling’s free-kick was followed by former Fox Remi Allen almost immediately slotting home the winner.

Defeated on the opening day, but far from disheartened by the display against the Villans, there was still plenty of optimism when the Foxes welcomed Manchester United to their new permanent home, King Power Stadium, a week later.

In front of a bumper crowd of 4,473 – a record attendance for a LCFC Women home match, the Red Devils ran out 3-1 winners, despite ex-United centre-back McManus scoring Leicester’s first home WSL goal.

A disappointing day at the office against West Ham United led to a 4-0 away defeat, before City’s 2020/21 Vitality Women’s FA Cup Quarter-Final, rearranged due to COVID-19, took place at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium. Holding out during the first 45 minutes, the hosts scored six in the second half to end an impressive cup run.  

Women

O'Brien & Pike Steer City To League Cup Success

First goals of the season for both Shannon O'Brien and Molly Pike helped LCFC Women record a 2-1 win at Durham in the Continental Tyres League Cup.

Into October and Leicester legend Emile Heskey was named as the Club’s new Head of Women’s Football Development, while on the pitch, Tottenham Hotspur edged a competitive Filbert Way encounter 2-0 at the start of the month, with over 2,000 fans cheering the Foxes on, unwavering in their support for the team.

City then came close to earning that elusive first WSL point away at Chelsea, battling valiantly against the title holders until two late goals confirmed another 2-0 defeat at Kingsmeadow. An impressive display from shot-stopper Levell led to her being nominated for the WSL Player of the Month.

Following the international break, the Continental Tyres League Cup group stage kicked off, with Everton the visitors to Pirelli Stadium - where LCFC Women would play several home fixtures across the campaign.

Plumptre’s first goal of the season wasn’t enough for a positive start, as the Toffees triumphed 3-1 in Burton, and there was to be further bad news as City lost Wales international Cain to an ACL injury that would rule her out for the rest of the season.

Women

Howard & Tierney Seal First WSL Success

Enjoy both strikes from LCFC Women's 2-0 home victory over Birmingham City in the Barclays FA Women's Super League.

Another impressive attendance greeted the Foxes at King Power Stadium when Manchester City arrived in Leicester, and supporters were almost immediately off their seats when Sigsworth fired in her first goal for the Club inside 60 seconds. The Citizens roared back, however, to win 4-1.

More late heartbreak was to come at AMEX Stadium against Brighton & Hove Albion, as, with almost the last kick of the game, Maisie Symonds scored a stunning free-kick to snatch a 1-0 victory for the Seagulls. The game marked Levell’s last appearance of the campaign, due to injury, a big loss for the Foxes.

A morale-boosting success was to follow in the League Cup, however, with goals from Shannon O’Brien and Pike sealed a first win of the season, beating Durham 2-1 at Maiden Castle.

Back to league matters and yet another late goal consigned Leicester to a 1-0 defeat, this time at home to Everton in Burton, and it proved to be Jonathan Morgan’s final game in charge, as he departed and was replaced by England Under-19s coach Lydia Bedford.

Bedford, alongside assistant Brent Hills, watched on as Leicester produced a stunning away performance to defeat Manchester United 4-3 on penalties in the League Cup group stage, with Lambourne saving two spot-kicks after Sophie Howard and Flint scored during a 2-2 draw in normal time.

Women

O'Brien's Finish Secures Crucial Brighton Victory

Shannon O'Brien's second-half strike helped LCFC Women to a 1-0 home triumph over Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.

The new manager's first official game at the helm could not have been any tougher, away to league leaders Arsenal, who claimed a 4-0 victory against 10-player Leicester, who had Purfield sent off in the first half at Meadow Park.

The biggest game of the season to date then came six days before Christmas, as City hosted fellow strugglers Birmingham City. Leicester picked up a vital three points, moving off the bottom of the table thanks to strikes from Howard and Tierney – their first goals in the WSL to mark the team’s maiden top-flight success.

England Under-23 international Pike was subsequently nominated for the December Player of the Month award, while Scotland international defender Howard’s stunning strike against the Blues was up for Goal of the Month.

Leicester moved quickly in the January transfer window to recruit England Under-19s duo Missy Goodwin and Freya Gregory from Aston Villa, the former on a permanent deal, but they could not prevent a narrow 1-0 defeat at Reading in their first fixture of 2022.

Needing a win and a nine-goal swing to progress in the League Cup against Manchester City, Bedford opted to hand out five debuts, with four Academy players also named in the starting XI. Their cup campaign came to an end after a 5-0 reverse, but a better result followed back in the league against Brighton.

O’Brien’s second-half breakthrough sealed a second successive home victory at King Power Stadium either side of the winter break, a vital time for the forward to notch her debut WSL goal.

Women

Sigsworth & Purfield Provide The Goals At Birmingham

First-half strikes from Jess Sigsworth and Jemma Purfield proved decisive in LCFC Women's 2-1 WSL success over Birmingham City on Sunday.

Conceding late goals continued to be City’s Achilles heel, however, with Aston Villa recording another 2-1 success over the Foxes at Pirelli Stadium a week later, when Alisha Lehmann scored deep into injury time.

January ended positively, beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 after extra-time to book a place in the fifth round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup. Trailing with less than 10 minutes to play, O’Brien’s sensational effort, later named as the winner of the Club’s Goal of the Month competition, drew the away side level at The Hive.

Makeshift striker Howard then netted seconds into extra-time, before De Graaf sealed the Foxes’ progression in added time. Reinforcements were soon welcomed to Belvoir Drive. Wales defender Esther Morgan arrived on loan from Spurs, before England youth international midfielder Elysia Boddy joined on a permanent deal.

New Zealand international full-back CJ Bott was then added to Leicester’s ranks, while Grant and Zajmi headed out of Belvoir Drive on loan.

Adding fresh faces to the squad, the momentum continued to grow when facing Birmingham at St. Andrew’s Stadium. Sigsworth’s penalty, followed by another goal direct from a corner by Purfield, had City in front and it was a lead they held on to despite Louise Quinn’s late consolation.

Women

Flint, Plumptre & Gregory Strike In Hammers Success

All the goals from LCFC Women's emphatic 3-0 triumph over West Ham United at Pirelli Stadium.

A third consecutive victory across all competitions was secured via a 3-0 success at home to West Ham United – Leicester’s biggest win of 2021/22 and first at Pirelli Stadium. Flint broke the deadlock early on, before Plumptre added a second – her maiden WSL strike. Loanee Gregory notched a first Foxes goal to add gloss to the scoreline in the second half.

February’s performances led to Purfield and Plumptre both earning nominations for the WSL Player of the Month, and while neither won the award, manager Bedford took home the league’s Manager of the Month prize. There was bad news on the injury front, though, as Sigsworth picked up an ACL injury that meant she would not play again in 2021/22.

The Foxes’ FA Cup journey ended at Chelsea, losing 7-0 after an early sending off for Howard, which was late rescinded, ahead of a tough run of games in the league. Five consecutive defeats followed, included losing to the top four - Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City.

The Foxes were somewhat unfortunate not to take anything from their trip to Everton, however, losing 3-2 despite Purfield opening the scoring and Tierney drawing the away side level at half-time.

Those results left City just four points above the relegation zone as they took on Reading in their final home game of the campaign, battling to a goalless draw at King Power Stadium that all-but guaranteed survival.

Birmingham’s loss at Manchester City the following midweek ensured LCFC Women would be playing top-flight football once more in 2022/23, ahead of a 1-0 reverse at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which brought the curtain down on a whirlwind campaign.

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