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London City Lionesses 0-1 Crystal Palace: Lessons learned in the opening game

It was a battle of a London derby for the Lionesses, as they fell to a narrow 0-1 defeat against Crystal Palace in the opening game of the Barclays Women's Championship season.

Heading into the game, both sides handed debuts to summer signings, with Sarah Ewens and Lois Heuchan making theres in front of an electric Princes Park.

From the opening few exchanges, it was clear that the Lionesses were keen to make their presence known early on, with Lily Agg coming close just two minutes in, after getting her head on the end of a free-kick, whipped in by Amy Rodgers.

A few minutes later, and it was the turn of Ewens to come close, who managed to get her shot away, under pressure from the Palace backline, but it was just over the bar.

Rodgers meanwhile continued to pose a threat from free kicks, with the ball she played in just before the 20 minute mark, forcing the keeper into a save.

Yet Palace, however, emboldened by their travelling supporters, soon started to grow into the game.

With 25 minutes played, Shae Yanez was forced into the first of a number of crucial saves, when Isabella Sibley cut inside and sought to curl her shot in the far post.

As the visitors started to pose more of a threat, likewise City continued to ask the questions of their backline, with Jamie-Lee Napier and Atlanta Primus linking well on multiple occasions to try and force through an opening.

Indeed with just seconds left until the end of the half, Primus nearly got the home side ahead, with a well struck effort from outside the box, but she could only find the post.

Yet despite the best efforts of both sides, they went into the break goalless.

The second half started in much the same way the first had ended, with both sides pushing hard for the opening.

Captain, Harley Bennett, driving the team forward from the backline

And five minutes later it was Palace who got themselves in front.

After a long range effort was struck and came off the crossbar, it was Sibley who was there to follow up on the rebound and edge it just past Yanez.

Palace then looked to double their lead, yet the City backline held firm, with Hayley Nolan making a number of vital challenges in the box.

City continued to cause problems for the South London sides defence, with the home side putting the pressure on and forcing them into mistakes, which they came close to capitalising on several times.

As the half progressed both teams continued to push for that second goal, with Yanez continuing to be called into action and pulling off more remarkable saves to keep the scoreline at 0-1.

Yet even with changes made, such as Lucy Shepherd and Lois Joel coming on for their debuts, Palace held firm.

However, with only a few minutes left on the clock it could have been a very different outcome, as Napier was through on goal and about to get her shot away, Annabel Johnson was able to get back and put in a challenge.

And then with just two minutes to play, a long range effort from Molly Sharpe was sent goalwards, but, once again, Yanez was a match for it, palming it over the crossbar.

A difficult opening game for the Lionesses, but one where plenty of lessons will be learned, ready for another tough test next week, away to Charlton Athletic.

Amy Rodgers looks to dictate play from the middle of the park

After the match, we caught up with Head Coach, Melissa Phillips, to get her thoughts on the game:

“Disappointing result for us today but certainly not one that defines us,” said Phillips, “we know how competitive it is going to be at the top of the league and games will come down to fine margins and finishing chances.

“It was a tale of two attacking halves, both ourselves and Palace had chances that rifled off the frame of the goal.

“We have a competitive fixture ahead to prepare for which will give us an opportunity to respond and that’s where our focus is at now.”

And don't forget London City fans you can be at Princes Park for our next home clash, this time against Bristol City on the 11th of September! Click the link to get your tickets now!

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