London City Lionesses earned their 5th clean sheet in a row as they extended their unbeaten run to 5 games with a 1-0 win away to London rivals Charlton.
The Lionesses put in another strong defensive display and have gone 510 minutes without conceding a goal in the Championship as they close the gap on the division’s top four.
PIVOTAL POINTS Before breaking the deadlock, Mel Phillips’ side had enjoyed plenty of the ball but the clear-cut chances weren’t necessarily materialising.
In the 29th minute, a fierce hit from Kallie Balfour was the first chance of note but the attempt was blocked by some brave defending from Charlton’s Rachel Newborough.
The game was settled in the 40th minute by a piece of individual magic from Balfour, the winger’s second goal of the season swinging the contest in her side’s favour before the break. The Charlton midfield invited Balfour to drive forward into open space, she needed no second invitation to surge into the penalty box before unleashing a vicious drive into the far corner of Eartha Cumings’ goal. Charlton bid to get back into the game, with an attempt 6 minutes after the break but were denied by a superb save from Shae Yanez.
Another good save from Yanez in the 66th minute as the keeper continued to frustrate the home side.
8 minutes from time, Lionesses’ Atlanta Primus almost put the game to bed as the Lionesses looked to add a second, but her effort went narrowly wide. MOMENT OF THE MATCH
It often takes moments of individual class to seal tight games and in Kallie Balfour, London City Lionesses had the figure to provide just that on Thursday evening.
Balfour’s smart run and powerful finish made for a terrific way to win the game for the Lionesses, whose strong defence came to the fore thereafter.
HEAD COACH’S REACTION
London City Head Coach Melissa Phillips said: “That’s what it takes to build momentum: the grit, the will, the determination, and every single player owning their role, buying into what we’re doing and working hard.”
On playing under the lights in a London derby, “That’s what builds momentum, we create it ourselves. [I’m] so incredibly proud of the group.”
Commenting on the development the Lionesses have made since they lost to Arsenal in the Conti Cup, Phillips said, “They are willing to look at themselves every single day and stretch themselves. They’ve challenged themselves to come together as a group and build relationships on the field [and] off the field.”
“They play with loads of passion. They have an incredible work ethic. They keep driving the team forward.”
Lionesses defender Harley Bennett gave her reaction on the win “We were excited to play because we’ve been getting some good results and momentum is on our side. it took a lot to protect that one-nil lead, but we had grit, determination, and a great performance from the whole team. We just want to win every single game so whether that be local, away, or home we just want to get three points and keep climbing up the ladder of the league”.
SETL PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Shae Yanez
Charlton Athletic (4-4-1-1): Eartha Cumings; Lois Heuchan, Grace Coombs, Olivia Smith, Rachel Newborough; Ellie Dorey, Vyan Sampson, Alice Griffiths, Charlotte Gurr; Charley Clifford; Jess King Substitutes: Ciara Watling for Clifford 60’, Elisha Sulola for Sampson 60’, Beth Lumsden for Gurr 60’, Emma Plewa for King 72’, Katie Godden for Dorey 83’ Substitutes not used: Angie Dunbar-Bonnie, Shauna Vassell, Lexi Lloyd-Smith London City Lionesses (4-1-4-1): Shae Yanez; Alli Murphy, Harley Bennett, Hannah Short, Grace Neville; Hayley Nolan; Atlanta Primus, Lily Agg, Poppy Wilson, Kallie Balfour; Elizabeta Ejupi Substitutes: Freda Ayisi for Wilson 26’, Juliette Kemppi for Ejupi 52’, for Lucy Fitzgerald for Balfour 84’ Substitutes not used: Hope Smith, Chantelle Mackie, Ylenia Priest, Annie Rossiter, Flo Fyfe, Lilly Pursey Goals: Balfour 40’ Referee: Stephen Hughes