Ellie Mason’s last-gasp goal saw London City Lionesses claim a dramatic and entertaining 3-2 win over Lewes in the FA Women’s Championship.
Lewes’s Ini Umotong scored her first goal for the club to give the home side the lead but two goals in four minutes from Atlanta Primus and a brilliant Kallie Balfour strike changed that.
Umotong converted a penalty in injury time that looked to have earned Lewes a point, but Mason poked home in injury time to give the Lionesses a third straight victory.
The Lionesses started on the front foot with Primus almost beating goalkeeper Tatiana Saunders at her near post in the 7th minute.
Against the run of play, Lewes capitalised as a whipped Emma Jones delivery was first met by Lucy Ashworth-Clifford before Umotong calmly eased the ball into the roof of the net.
The Lionesses’ response was emphatic, as they struck twice in quick succession.
Alli Murphy instigated the equaliser, her teasing delivery was not cleanly grasped by Saunders and Primus made her pay for the error, lashing the ball hard past the stricken keeper in the 22nd minute.
And, just 5 minutes later, Balfour delivered the game’s moment of outstanding quality.
Lily Agg made a nuisance of herself in the penalty area and as Lewes dithered in clearing the ball, Balfour unleashed a spectacular half-volley that Saunders could do absolutely nothing about.
In the 45th minute and the break looming, the Lionesses almost extended their lead when Juliette Kemppi nearly flicked the ball into the net from Primus’ cross.
In the second half the Lionesses continued to push for more goals and almost got their third when Murphy blazed over from the penalty spot. As Umotong calmly slotted home eight minutes from time, it looked as if Murphy’s miss would be costly.
But the Lionesses defender Mason delivered Valentine’s Day heartbreak for Lewes in the dying moment of the game. On her return from injury Mason saved the day, and secured all three points for London City, when she snuck home a bouncing ball from a corner.
London City remain in 5 place but equal on points with Liverpool in fourth, who have a game in hand.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Kallie Balfour is a proven goal scorer at Championship level, but she will have struck few sweeter than the Lionesses’ second goal of the day.
HEAD COACH’S REACTION
London City Lionesses Head Coach Melissa Phillips said: "We squeaked that one out. It ended up being a much more emotional game than we had anticipated."
“We haven't conceded a goal or two goals in a while and I'm just incredibly pleased with the way that we responded after going a goal down and then being equalised on. The group is always hungry, and that just continued to shine through today."
“This team just continues to show so much character in how they’re growing and how they’re challenging themselves together, and they never sway from that. That’s always going to help us create long-term success."
“We still believed at 2-2. That’s something that is really foundational in our group, and that’s belief. We talk about continuing to believe good things are going to happen and putting in the work to match."
“We take so much pride in being difficult to play against."
“Our identity is tough, it’s hard-nosed, it’s organised, it’s competitive, it’s fit and it’s always believing we are in it. For me, we want to continue to push as high as we can go."
“It’s Coventry next, and we just continue to build. Ultimately, the focus is never about the table for us. It's about who we are, our performance, and what we can control. If we continue to focus on the things that we can control we're going to put ourselves in a really good situation and continue climbing the table”.
Lionesses defender and match-winner Ellie Mason said: “It’s a great feeling. The last few months have been hard, but I've worked hard to get back. I wanted to go out on that pitch and show what I can do and help the team out as much as I can."
“Fair play to Lewes, they came at us and gave us a good game. We had chances, we kept fighting until the end and that’s what we did and luckily, we got a goal."
“It was amazing and to help the team as much as I can and to get our last-minute winner is the best feeling ever especially with the last few months I’ve had."
“The most important thing is that we got three points."
“We keep fighting as a team. We keep performing like we have been as we’ve been really good lately”.
SETL PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Poppy Wilson
Lewes (4-2-3-1): Tatiana Saunders; Sophie O’Rourke, Nicola Cousins, Rhian Cleverly (c), Sammy Quayle; Ellie Leek, Mollie Rouse; Emma Jones, Zoe Cross, Lucy Ashworth-Clifford; Ini Umotong Substitutes: Charley Boswell for Quayle 46, Georgia Timms for Cross 70, Katie Rood for Ashworth-Clifford 70, Simran Jhamat for Jones 90 Substitutes not used: Laura Hartley (gk), Danni Lane, Ellie Hack, Filippa Savva, Megan Mackey Goals: Umotong 11, 82 (pen) London City Lionesses (4-1-4-1): Shae Yanez; Alli Murphy, Harley Bennett (c), Hannah Short, Grace Neville; Hayley Nolan; Atlanta Primus, Poppy Wilson, Lily Agg, Kallie Balfour; Juliette Kemppi Substitutes: Ellie Mason for Neville 46, Annie Rossiter for Balfour 72, Elizabeta Ejupi for Kemppi 72 Substitutes not used: Nina Wilson (gk), Chantelle Mackie, Ylenia Priest, Freda Ayisi, Lucy Fitzgerald, Flo Fyfe Goals: Primus 23, Balfour 27, Mason 90 (+2) Bookings: Agg 63, Mason 74, Rossiter 83 Referee: Lou Saunders