Ten-woman Crystal Palace held on for a point against the dominant London City Lionesses as the two sides played out a goalless draw at Princes Park.
Palace’s Amber Stobbs received her second booking on the hour mark but Liz Ejupi’s header against the crossbar from the resulting free-kick was as close as the hosts came to finding a winner in a hard-fought FA Women’s Championship clash.
A tightly contested opening 15 minutes between the two sides offered few chances. The first opening of the game came in the 18th minute when the Lionesses midfielder, Freda Ayisi’s, shot from 25 yards drifted just wide of the target.
Lucy Fitzgerald then forced Chloe Morgan into action on 32 minutes, reacting quickest to a loose ball on the edge of the box and firing in a stinging shot which was saved by the Palace goalkeeper.
At the other end, Cherelle Khassal almost opened the scoring for Palace three minutes later but shot into the side netting having been played in by Kate Natkiel.
Atlanta Primus came close to breaking the deadlock for the Lionesses on 57 minutes when she ran across the Palace defence to meet a low cross from Lily Agg but sent her effort just over the crossbar from six yards out.
Then came a potential turning point as Stobbs lunged in on Ayisi and was shown her second yellow card with half an hour still to play.
The Lionesses were inches away from opening the scoring from the resulting free-kick but Ejupi’s powerful header came back off the bar and Palace continued to frustrate London City.
The Lionesses continued to push to score a goal with Agg’s 78th minute attempt going wide of the post.
With three minutes to play, Flo Fyfe’s dipping effort was superbly kept out by Morgan, who produced an acrobatic fingertip save to preserve her side’s point.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
In the 60th minute Lionesses’ forward Ejupi almost broke the deadlock from a set-piece. Ejupi rose above the Crystal Palace with her header hitting the bar.
HEAD COACH’S REACTION
Lionesses Head Coach Mel Phillips commented “I was proud of the way the players competed. I was proud of the way that they came out of halftime and made adjustments, and really dominated the second half."
“Super pleased for the clean sheet and there were a lot of lessons from it. I think we just continue to move in the right direction."
“Any one of the looks that we had on goal were quality. The keeper had to make a big save and had a couple of decent blocks and if one of those goes in, of course it changes the game. Those are the finer details in the margins that we play within. So, it's just about improving ourselves and continue to push forward this week in training”.
With back-to-back clean sheets, Phillips said “I think it's just a testament to how hard the players are competing, how organized their commitment is to stick together in the game plan. It's fantastic”.
London City Lionesses midfielder Lily Agg said: "It was tough, but I think we played really well. It was small margins; we were just missing the final little bit.
"We can't fault the team, we worked hard, we battled and left everything out there. We've just got to keep building and those small margins are going to come”.
With the Lionesses dominating the second half, Agg said “I thought we grew into the game and towards the end, the game was there for the taking.
"We wanted it, we were pushing, hitting crossbars and just missing - and their keeper made some good saves.
"We've just got to keep trying. We were hoping for the three points and we've got to keep building and take that momentum into Bees and Charlton."
SETL Player of the Match: Lily Agg
London City Lionesses (4-4-2): Shae Yanez, Leanne Cowan, Harley Bennett, Hannah Short, Grace Neville, Hayley Nolan, Lily Agg, Freda Ayisi, Lucy Fitzgerald, Elizabeta Ejupi, Atlanta Primus
Substitutes: Flo Fyfe for Ayisi 61’, Juliette Kemppi for Lucy Fitzgerald 77’
Substitutes not used: Ylenia Priest, Hope Smith, Annie Rossiter, Chantelle Mackie, Poppy Wilson, Lilly Pursey, Kallie Balfour
Bookings: Harley Bennett 53’, Hayley Nolan 85’
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Chloe Morgan, Amber Stobbs, Annabel Johnson, Leeta Rutherford, Ffion Morgan, Kirsty Barton, Coral-Jade Haines, Kate Natkiel, Cherelle Khassal, Leigh Nicol, Hannah Churchill
Substitutes: Siobhan Wilson for Nicol 65’, Bianca Baptise for Khassal 75’, Ashlee Hincks for Haines 79’
Substitutes not used: Aoife Hurley, Amy Taylor, Georgia Clifford, Andria Georgiou, Ashleigh Goddard, Amy Goddard
Bookings: Kirsty Barton 54’
Red Cards: Amber Stobbs 60’
Referee: Lucy Ann Briggs