Aileen Whelan

Late WSL Heartbreak For LCFC At West Ham

LCFC Women fell to a harsh defeat at Chigwell Construction Stadium as a last-minute winner from Izzy Atkinson gifted all three points to West Ham United Women in the Barclays Women's Super League.

After 90 minutes of pressing, positivity and promising football, City's dominant performance would be undone by a calm finish from substitute Atkinson in the dying moments of the match. 

In an all-out affair, where both sides had chances to settle the scoreline, it was the Hammers who would take the chance to pick up all three points in gameweek eight of the WSL. 

Fresh from a international break, Leicester returned to action with a visit to Chigwell Construction Stadium to face a West Ham side who were seventh in the league heading into the encounter, while new Foxes manager Willie Kirk headed to the capital for only his second game in charge, with his side starting the day in 12th position. 

There were two changes to the side who lost to Arsenal a couple of weeks ago, with Kirstie Levell and Demi Vance being replaced by Demi Lambourne and Carrie Jones. Lining up in a 4-3-3 formation, the Foxes looked to be having an early impact on the game.

The plan almost came to fruition within the first five minutes when an accurate pass from Jemma Purfield was latched onto by Natasha Flint, but as she went to pull the trigger, the West Ham defender did enough to put off the striker. 

Moments later, the travelling side from Leicester were reminded of the threat that the Hammers can pose. Breaking down the right flank, a cross eventually fell to the foot of Honoka Hayasi, but a brave deflection kept the scoreline goalless. 

Over the next 20 minutes, both sides continued to threaten. City did so first when Purfield cut in on her right foot from the edge of the box and tried to curl into the top corner, but the full-back's connection wasn't as she planned and the effort flew wide. 

Seconds later, the visitors were pressing again. Jones picked up a loose ball inside the home penalty area and unselfishly squared it to Flint, who was waiting on the spot, but after taking a touch, the forward fired wide and the chance was gone. 

The final play of the half came for the hosts when a dangerous cross from the right had Lambourne scrambling, but the 'keeper did enough to keep the ball out before she was thanking her backline for deflecting behind Claudia Walker's follow-up attempt. 

The Foxes came out in the second half with the same energy they started the game with, and had an opportunity to take the lead less than 10 minutes from the restart, when a cross into the box by CJ Bott looked to be met by the head of Sam Tierney, but the Leicester player failed to hit the target. 

As the half went by, Leicester got closer and closer to taking the lead, finding a lot of luck from Purfield's corners. Following Tierney's miss, the Foxes came even closer when the ball was flicked onto the crossbar in the 71st minute.

As the ball bounced around the goalmouth, it looked to be Sophie Howard on the floor, trying to force the ball across the line, but following several deflections and blocks, the home side managed to survive the threat and clear any danger. 

Kirk introduced Shannon O'Brien and Missy Goodwin into the game in an attempt to work the tiring Hammers' backline with some fresh pace. Offering new options on the channels, it was a game plan which looked to bring Leicester deeper into the home side's half. 

However, in the 89th minute, City's hard work would be undone when Atkinson would steal the points. On the break, the substitute picked up the ball on the edge of the Foxes' box before firing a low left-footed effort past Lambourne. 

The Foxes thought they had equalised in injury time when Ashleigh Plumptre's deflected shot ended up in the back of the net. But as the defender wheeled away in celebration, a glance to the assistant referee revealed a raised flag, preventing any chance of a comeback. 

The referee brought an end to proceedings seconds later, and Leicester would head back to the East Midlands without anything from their efforts. 

Major moment…

The major moment was the only goal of the game, which came from substitute Izzy Atkinson. On the break, Atkinson picked up the ball on the edge of the box and stuck an effort past Demi Lambourne with a calm finish. 

Who impressed?

Jemma Purfield caused problems all afternoon for the West Ham defence with her direct running and dangerous deliveries from corners. On another afternoon, the full-back may have picked up a couple of assists. 

Where do we stand?

LCFC Women remain 12th in the WSL, still searching for their first points of the season. 

Coming up...

City return to King Power Stadium on Saturday 3 December (3pm kick-off) when they face Chelsea in the Barclays Women's Super League. 

The details…

City: Lambourne; Simon (Goodwin 74'), Howard, McManus, Plumptre; Bott, Whelan (C), Tierney, Purfierld; C. Jones, Flint (O'Brien 63').

Subs not used: Levell, Vance, Brougham, Pike, Jones, Baker, Scofield.

All times GMT.

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