It was a tough day at the office for the London City Lionesses, as they fell to a 2-0 defeat away to local rivals Charlton Athletic.
From the outset it was clear that City were going to have a battle on their hands, with Charlton showing their attacking threat in the opening few minutes, with a long-range effort being sent towards goal.
Yet keeper Shae Yanez was quick to dive into action and tip it over the bar and out of play for a corner.
However, that very corner proved to be lethal for City, with Mia Ross rising highest in the box to get her head on the whipped ball in, giving the home side the lead after 10 minutes.
City came back at them quickly though, with Amy Rodgers having a free kick on 20 minutes. A dangerous ball was sent into the box, but after a scuffle, Charlton were able to regroup, and Carly Girasoli’s shot was unable to trouble the keeper.
The threat that City had from set plays was clear to see throughout the game, with Atlanta Primus working alongside Rodgers to send in numerous well-placed crosses into the box. Yet the home side dug in to keep their noises Infront.
The second half was a different story for the Lionesses, as they immediately looked to assert their dominance in on the home side.
Indeed, an own goal following a mix-up at the back saw Charlton double and their lead very much against the run of play.
Yet not for one minute did the players' heads drop, as they kept pushing to get the goal that would get them back in the game.
Indeed, through some trademark fancy footwork, Karin Muya was able to carve out of the opportunity of the match, and she weaved her way into being through on goal and getting her shot away. But the keeper was equal to it.
For the rest of the half Charlton continued to keep the pressure up, but the City backline held firm, maintaining their shape to catch them offside and cause their third goal to be chalked off.
But in the end, after a tough 90 minutes, the referee blew her whistle and Charlton’s three points.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Manager Melissa Phillips speaking after the game, “they scored on a set piece goal and then we had a little bit of a mishap with the own goal, but these things happen.
“In the second half we were able to assert ourselves much more, but we just didn’t create enough, and that’s the way it goes today. We were far from our best, and credit to Charlton they came out and competed in the first half and made it very difficult for us.”
Charlton were difficult opponents to say the least, motivated by a cheering home crowd throughout the match.
“They hunted very well in their press and that’s something we knew about them,” said Phillips.
“But ultimately in the second half we were able to make adjustments and nullify a bit of the physicality, so going forward it’s just about recognising these things a little bit quicker in the moment and having a bit of versatility in our attacking play.”
However, there was never any point in the game where the Lionesses looked beaten or defeated.
“We never have any doubts about being in a game, we always believe that we’re in a game,” said Phillips, “and you can tell that by the performance in the second half.”
“It’s a real credit to the players; their growth mindset and their humility will always propel us and it’s just about the response from here.”
It was also clear during the match, that the changes in personnel made during the game had a real impact in keeping the tempo up.
“We know the depth that we have in our team and we know that everyone on our bench has the potential to make a real impact on any given game,” remarked Phillips.
“It’s a group which believes in themselves and backs themselves. And that’s why we’ve been so competitive because we have a team that is 24 strong.”
And, of course, every setback offers up lessons going forward, so what will Phillips be taking away from Sunday’s performance?
“We learn about ourselves every single game and pick out different trends from different games, but ultimately it’s going to be about the character that we show when we’re down and the ability to respond and fight back, and I do think we showed that in the second half.”
For the London City Lionesses, following the international break, the next game in the calendar is the first FA Cup clash of the season. Stay tuned to see who our opponents will be!
London City Lionesses: Yanez (GK), Fleming (Rouse 60'), Primus, Muya, Fitzgerald (Nunn 60'), Bennett (C), Napier, Fronc (Thompson 60'), Rossiter (Jarrett 60'), Rodgers, Girasoli
Subs not used: Neville, Pedersen, Short, Pursey, Mehmet
Photo Credit: Keith Gillard