Elizabeta Ejupi scored twice as London City Lionesses produced an impressive attacking display to defeat Blackburn Rovers 3-0 at Princes Park.
Ejupi and Atlanta Primus both struck to put the Lionesses ahead just before half-time and Ejupi added a second early in the second half to complete a perfect afternoon for the hosts.
The Lionesses almost opened the scoring after 12 minutes, but Kallie Balfour’s shot rattled the underside of the crossbar and was judged not to have crossed the line. In the 28th minute, a world-class save from Lionesses goalkeeper Shae Yanez, prevented Blackburn from breaking the deadlock. One minute before the break, Ejupi delivered a stylish finish to put the Lionesses in front and end the Lionesses’ goalless run.
And before anyone could breathe, Primus got her goal in stoppage time to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage at the break. After the halftime interval, Blackburn applied the pressure to get back in the game with a 52nd minute attempt from Saffron Jordan going closest to scoring.
But then the Lionesses extended their lead four minutes later when Ejupi found herself in plenty of space and was able to place the ball home
for her second goal. Elise Hughes saw Yanez off her line in the 67th minute, but the keeper was able to get back to collect from the clever attempt.
Lionesses were unable to create any clear-cut chances to get their fourth goal but continued to attack the Blackburn defence with shots on goal in the 87th and 89th minutes. Another strong defensive display from the Lionesses saw them collect their 4th consecutive clean sheet.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Elizabeta Ejupi's classy finish for her opener provided the platform for the hosts to build upon.
HEAD COACH’S REACTION
London City Lionesses Head Coach Melissa Phillips said: “I’m always proud of this group but I think we’ve done such a good job keeping belief in our identity and who we are. Having not scored a goal in a couple of games we just kept knocking on the door. The opportunities we put away today, we were creating in previous matches."
“We move on from each game. It wasn’t in the back of our minds that we hadn’t scored goals. We know what we did in training to prepare. We always believed that it’s coming, even in the last matches."
“The goals were indicative of another true team performance. Everyone was a part of them, there was some good build-up play. Everyone’s playing well but that’s what it takes. It takes us coming to the training ground every day, chipping away, continuing to build our identity. We feel prepared on match day."
Lionesses forward Kallie Balfour gave her view after the game, she said “We started off really strong. I think that the energy before the game was high, everyone was just on it. We tried to get an early goal to keep the pressure on them.”
Commenting on the Lionesses breaking the goal drought, Balfour said “It felt amazing. I think it’s been coming for a long time. It feels really good for us to get the goals and especially the 3 points.”
“The three points today will give us a lot of momentum and we’ll take that into Thursday and push on”.
SETL Player of the Match: Liz Ejupi
London City Lionesses (3-4-3): Shae Yanez, Harley Bennett, Hannah Short, Grace Neville, Alli Murphy, Hayley Nolan, Lily Agg, Poppy Wilson, Atlanta Primus, Kallie Balfour, Elizabeta Ejupi
Substitutes: Lucy Fitzgerald for Balfour 64’, Juliette Kemppi for Primus 75’, Lilly Pursey for Wilson 82’
Substitutes not used: Hope Smith, Chantelle Mackie, Leanne Cowan, Ylenia Priest, Freda Ayisi, Flo Fyfe
Goals: Ejupi 44’, 56’, Primus 45’
Bookings: Agg 28’
Blackburn Rovers (4-3-3): Emma Bradley, Isobel Dean, Ellie Stewart, Jade Richards, Charlotte Newsham, Natasha Fenton, Emma Doyle, Aimee Hodgson, Elise Hughes, Saffron Jordan, Georgia Walters
Substitutes: Ali Johnson for Hodgson 53’, Annabel Blanchard for Walters 64’
Substitutes not used: Ellie Fletcher, Maria Edwards, Leah Embley, Meg Boydell, Hannah Coan, Ria Montgomery
Bookings: Fenton 59’
Referee: Simon Finnagan