With several changes from Sunday’s starting 11, it was a young Lionesses side, including a debut for 18-year-old Lilly Pursey, that valiantly competed against Tottenham Hotspur in the first of three FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup group matches.
The London City Lionesses fought hard, improving on their previous performances and yet the back of the net still alluded them. The pick of the Spur’s goals came from an Alanna Kennedy's free-kick whilst Juliette Kemppi had two good chances, the first stopped by a pull back and the second turned past the bar by the Spurs keeper.
Pivotal Points In The Match:
Tottenham opened the scoring in 12 minutes when Rosella Ayane's low cross was pushed out by London City goalkeeper Shae Yanez and unfortunately into the path of Ria Percival, who planted it firmly into the roof of the net.
Five minutes later Alli Murphy nearly equalised with a fabulous 30 yard strike which just dip too late time and instead bounced off the top of the bar. A Kennedy's free-kick beat Yanez at her near post with just under half an hour played to make it 2-0. The third goal came on 35 minutes after Kit Graham played a ball through for Ayane to finish. Yanez made another fine save for the Lionesses just before half time.
In the second half the Lionesses continued their all-round good performance with midfielder Poppy Wilson creating some good space and the team moving the ball with confidence, when in possession. However, the Lionesses just couldn’t convert the opportunities to send the ball into the back of the net, as Tottenham’s continued to press high .
The determination and hard work didn’t stop though and on 63 minutes Kemppi burst through the Spurs defence to see her strike tipped over for a corner. Minutes later her intelligent run gave Alli Murphy the opportunity to cut back in, but the shot was blocked. Angela Addison then added Spur’s fourth on 81 minutes firing from close range after Ashleigh Neville's cross had fallen her way.
Coach and Player Reactions:
Melissa Phillips, Assistant Coach said, “I’m really pleased with our second half performance. I thought the girls showed tremendous fight and were also able to break into the game with some exciting opportunities. Credit to Tottenham who is a fantastic team. They scored some really quality goals against us in the first half.
“We learned a lot about ourselves and will take those lessons as we build and move into the next game against London Bees.”
London City Lionesses Player of the Match, midfielder Poppy Wilson said, "I thought we did really well in competing against a top side and I thought we showed what we are capable of. Individually, I thought some of the players today showed what they can do and as a team, collectively, I thought we did really well.
"We spoke at half-time about being disciplined, our attitude, our work rate, being together as a team and I really think the girls put a good effort in during the second half. All we can do is take the positives. It's tough in these games and you need to step your intensity up and I think we did that today.
"Some of the players out there, you just watch and you think 'wow' at some of the things they do and you can only learn from playing against players like that. I don't necessarily think that the result reflected our performance, but we were up against a top side."
Tottenham striker Rosella Ayane said, “A win has been a long time coming, but we finally got that today and all the girls deserved it; a clean sheet, four goals and hopefully we can take that momentum into Saturday. I think getting an early goal in those types of games is massive and we managed to do that through Ria [Percival], so that was really good for us."
“They banked up and in the second half they performed well, but as I said, four goals and a clean sheet is massive for us.”
Lionesses Defender Grace Neville added her thoughts, “The first half I think maybe we gave them a little too much respect, we let them play in front of us. But in the second half we came out a lot better. Played it around at the back, switched the play."
“I definitely take the positive out of it. At times we had really good combination play in wide areas and through the centre. So just taking the positives through to the game on Sunday against Bees and lots to work for the next Conti Cup game.”
London City will now face London Bees on Sunday. They sit below the Lionesses in the league table having not recorded a point and also suffering a 4-0 Conti Cup defeat against Bristol City.
SETL Player of the Match: Poppy Wilson
Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-3): Becky Spencer, Ashleigh Neville, Hannah Godfrey, Shelina Zadorsky, Kerys Harrop, Alanna Kennedy, Josie Green, Kit Graham, Gemma Davison, Rosella Ayane, Ria Percival
Substitutes: Lucy Quinn for Percival 46, Lucia Leon for Graham 46, Angela Addison for Davison 46, Anna Filbey for Kennedy 46, Rianna Dean for Ayane 62
Substitutes not used: Amy Martin, Siri Worm, Elisha Sulola
Goals: Percival 12, Kennedy 29, Ayane 35, Addison 82
Bookings: Godfrey 70
London City Lionesses (4-3-2-1): Shae Yanez, Chantelle Mackie, Harley Bennett, Ylenia Priest, Grace Neville, Alli Murphy, Lilly Pursey, Poppy Wilson, Annie Rossiter, Kallie Balfour, Atlanta Primus
Substitutes: Juliette Kemppi for Rossiter 46, Lucy Fitzgerald for Balfour 46, Hayley Nolan for Wilson 60, Leanne Cowan for Primus 84
Substitutes not used: Lucy Thomas, Freda Ayisi, Lily Agg
Bookings: Bennett 28
Referee: Sarah Garratt