London City Lionesses put in a creditable performance against Brighton in our final Continental Cup game, but the WSL side ran out 4-2 winners.
The starting XI showed seven changes from the win at Blackburn, and we started the game well against a strong Brighton side.
An energetic midfield denied the Seagulls time and space on the ball and Annie Rossiter had the first shot of the game, warming the hands of Brighton keeper Sophie Harris.
The gameplan suffered a blow when Kallie Balfour limped out of the action early on, and a few minutes later we fell behind as Fliss Gibbons’ cross was converted at the far post by Matilde Lundorf.
Aileen Whelan fired narrowly over for the Seagulls but a disciplined defensive display kept Hope Powell’s team largely at arm’s length before half time.
And almost immediately after the restart, we levelled as Annie Rossiter was fouled by Emily Simpkins, and a cool and collected Evie Clarke dispatched the penalty.
However, Brighton restored their advantage pretty quickly, with Ini Umotong netting Amanda Nilden’s cross from close range.
Ellie Mason, on at half time, went close to an equaliser with a piledriver that was a portent of things to come.
But an unfortunate own goal, credited against the otherwise excellent Harley Bennett, made it 3-1 to the Albion and Simpkins got a toe-end to a Lundorf cross for her side’s fourth.
Lionesses rallied late on and after Clarke volleyed wide, Mason’s dynamic run was topped off by a beautiful curling finish from the edge of the box for the pick of the night’s goals.
However, Brighton took the win and with it a place in the knockout stages.
Afterwards, first goalscorer Clarke said: “In the first half we tried to make it as hard as possible for them. We stayed compact and did all right in containing them.
“We need to cut out the mistakes we made but to score two goals against a Super League side is a real positive.
“I was a bit nervous taking the penalty but I took a deep breath, went bottom right and thankfully it went in.”
London City Lionesses: Thomas; Neville, Priest, Bennett, Fitzgerald; Ejupi (Mason 46); Rossiter, Balfour (Kemppi 13), Fyfe (Ayisi 64), Clarke; Susanna.
Subs not used: Mackie, Bailey.