A second-half goal from young winger Ava Baker resulted in the Foxes finishing the 2022/23 campaign with a win, as Leicester became the first side to successfully overturn a seven-point deficit to ensure league safety in the top flight of English football.
City arrived to Crawley with just one change to the starting line-up that lost to 2-1 to West Ham United last time out, with the suspended Ruby Mace being replaced by Missy Goodwin, as Sam Tierney filled an important role at the bottom of the midfield diamond in Willie Kirk's variation of the 4-4-2 formation.
It was the hosts who were controlling more of the possession in the opening stages, with Leicester looking to threaten on the break. The first chance for the Foxes came little over 15 minutes in when Hannah Cain was sent through one-on-one, but sadly couldn't find the target when the striker saw her effort drift wide of the far post.
The visitors were pressing high and saw another chance fall their way 10 minutes later when Goodwin was given the freedom to drive into the penalty area, but opted to hit the ball with her left foot, and dragged the effort wide.
The final chance of the half came when Cain delivered a teasing cross into the box, but as Goodwin was inches away from directing a header towards goal, Carrie Jones was free six yards out, but agonisingly saw the ball bounce out of her control as the goal was left open.
In the second half, Leicester stepped up the tempo, keen to finish the season on a high. It was Cain who was the livewire again when she supplied Remy Siemsen in the box, whose touch goalwards was narrowly wide, before the Welsh international sent a powerful right-footed effort past the outside of Walsh's net just moments later.
Looking to stretch the play, City's No.32 was breaking in behind the Brighton full-back, and generated something different for City, and with 15 minutes to play, the Young Lioness dealt a decisive blow to the game.
From a Nevin corner, the 17-year-old was able to turn the ball in from close range, giving Leicester the lead. Over the final stages, Brighton looked to draw back level, and threatened with numerous efforts from inside the box, all of which were heroically blocked by the Foxes.
Deep into the seven minutes that were added, City kept their nerve as German 'keeper Janina Leitzig claimed anything that came her way. Eventually, to the chorus of travelling away fans, the final whistle blew, confirming Leicester's space in the WSL next season.
Kirk will be proud that his team, who were seven points adrift at Christmas, were able to turn things around in such an extraordinary fashion, and close this season with three points in hand.
Major moment - Ava Baker's goal
Ava Baker netted her first WSL goal on Saturday afternoon against Brighton.
Having only just joined back up with her Club team-mates, since featuring for England Under-17s at UEFA U17 Women's EURO 2023, Baker was the difference and the youngster looked determined to confirm safety for her side. A goal late on did just that.
Who impressed - LCFC Women
LCFC Women celebrate Baker's goal at Broadfield Stadium.
With fate in their own hands, the whole Leicester squad played their part in a strong performance, to ensure that they ended the season with three points, and above that dreaded dotted line.
Where do we stand? - 10th in the WSL
League safety was confirmed on the last day of the 2022.23 season.
Saturday's victory not only confirmed safety for the Foxes, but a 10th-placed finish, after leapfrogging Brighton on the final day of the campaign. That is their highest-ever finish in the pyramid. Elsewhere, Reading fell to defeat at the hands champions Chelsea at Select Car Leasing Stadium which confirmed their relegation to the Barclays Women's Championship.
City: Leitzig; Bott (Purfield 79'), Howard (Eaton-Collins 90'), Plumptre, Nevin; Tierney, Whelan (C), C. Jones (Pike 79'), Goodwin (O'Brien 60'); Siemsen (Baker 68'), Cain (Robinson 68')
Subs not used: Lambourne, Reavill, Green
Goal: Baker 73'
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