Roberts' header maintains Durham's unbeaten run Emily Roberts’ header earned Durham a hard-fought 1-0 win at London City Lionesses to extend their unbeaten FA Women’s Championship campaign to 15 games.
The hosts gave as good as they got but ultimately fell to defeat with Danielle Brown’s fine first-half cross cushioned home by Roberts. Hayley Nolan came closest for the Lionesses, her header having to be cleared off the line, as Durham moved three points clear of Leicester City at the top of the table.
KEY MOMENTS: Durham had the first opportunity in the 20th minute when Sarah Robson hit a driving shot towards goal from the edge of the area that was just deflected wide. But, Lionesses striker Elizabeta Ejupi almost scored moments later when her dipping volley from the edge of the area went just over the bar. The home side continued to attack and Kallie Balfour went close when she dribbled from the right wing and fired a left-footed shot just past the post. But Durham broke the deadlock shortly before half-time as Brown found space on the right wing and crossed to the far post where Roberts headered powerfully past Lionesses goalkeeper Shae Yanez. The Lionesses began the second half with more urgency but were unable to get through Durham's disciplined defence.
Atlanta Primus almost levelled in the 64th minute as she sprung Durham's offside trap and controlled a long ball forward but Durham keeper Megan Borthwick made a last-ditch interception to deny the Lionesses striker. Durham nearly doubled their lead with 15 minutes remaining when Bridget Galloway drove into the Lionesses area and hit a low shot that Hannah Short blocked wide. And Nolan then went close for the Lionesses seconds later as her header was cleared off the line after Durham had failed to clear a corner, but Durham held firm to take all three points in their first game for a month.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH:
There were not many chances to shout about in a tight game, but Roberts delivered a moment of quality just when her title-challenging side needed it.
Having been neatly found in the box by Brown’s cross, she could have easily rushed the effort but instead calmly picked her spot and nodded home.
WHAT THEY SAID:
London City Lionesses midfielder Hayley Nolan said: “Obviously, we're a little bit disappointed to lose the game because we were unbeaten in five so we were really confident coming into the game and we started a bit slow in the first half but picked up in the second and we were unlucky. “We had a couple of chances and one cleared off the line and created a lot of chances which weren't converted in the first half so we are a tad disappointed but we look ahead to Coventry on Sunday." “Durham are a great side, they've got a unity and an identity and are very hard to break down and play for each other and that’s why they’re not losing games. They give 100% for 90 minutes." “Honestly, I did think it [her header which was cleared off the line] was heading in and thought it might just loop over their head but they had two on the line and they did their job so I'm a little disappointed but we go into the next game and hope those chances go in next time.” Durham defender Becky Salicki said: “We're absolutely over the moon, we knew this was going to be a really hard place to come, London City are a really good team and we've got a lot of respect for them so we knew it was going to be hard but we stuck to our gameplan and I thought we played really well in the first half and dug out the result in the second half."
“We knew it was going to be a bit of a chess game and tactical, we knew it would be a battle in terms of physicality and how they play football as well.
“They had a few good chances which we managed to nullify and [Megan] Borthwick did well in goal but defensively we managed to keep them out." “We really linked up well down the right-hand side and Dan [Danielle Brown], who's been fantastic since she came in, and brought another element to our game, we said to her before the game to try and have a look up and try pick someone out. She did that and it's won us the game.”
London City Lionesses (4-4-2): Shae Yanez, Chantelle Mackie, Harley Bennett, Hannah Short, Grace Neville, Hayley Nolan, Poppy Wilson, Alli Murphy, Kallie Balfour, Atlanta Primus, Elizabeta Ejupi.
Substitutes: Juliette Kemppi for Ejupi 32, Flo Fyfe for Mackie 45, Lucy Fitzgerald for Neville 83. Substitutes not used: Hope Smith, Ylenia Priest, Freda Ayisi, Annie Rossiter, Lilly Pursey, Nina Wilson. Bookings: Bennett 89 Durham (4-4-2): Megan Borthwick, Kathryn Hill, Lauren Briggs, Sarah Wilson, Sarah Robson, Beth Hepple, Molly Sharpe, Becky Salicki, Ellie Christon, Emily Roberts, Danielle Brown. Substitutes: Abby Holmes for Brown 62, Bridget Galloway for Sharpe 69, Mollie Lambert for Roberts 80. Substitutes not used: Brooke Mackain, Dee Bradley, Lily Crosthwaite. Goals: Roberts 37 Bookings: Robson 32 Referee: Emily Heaslip