It was a difficult day at Princes Park for the London City Lionesses, as they were beaten 2-1 by visitors Durham.
From the outset, City looked to impose themselves on the game, passing their way through the opposition backline.
Indeed, it didn’t take long for the Lionesses' hard work to be rewarded, as, just 12 minutes in, Mollie Rouse was able to get on the end of a Lucy Fitzgerald cross to guide the ball into the back of the net.
For the rest of the first 45’ City kept coming, with Jamie-Lee Napier and Karin Muya continuing to cause havoc down the channels for Durham, with the former almost making it 2-0 with an impressive shot from range.
However, Durham soon started to get into the game, picking up on a loose back pass and nearly getting the better of the City defence, before Amy Rodgers and Carly Girasoli did enough to force the ball out of play.
Just before the break the Lionesses had another opportunity to double their lead, as Muya weaved her way into the box and played it into Atlanta Primus, who controlled it well and got her shot away, but the keeper was equal to it.
Primus then had another chance to get on the scoresheet, this time with a header off a Rodgers cross, but again, the Durham keeper was steadfast.
As soon as the whistle blew for the second half, Durham were straight on the attack.
Their equaliser came just minutes into the half, with a corner whipped in at speed by Beth Hepple just getting the better of City’s defence.
The second came just a few minutes later; this time a powerful free kick from Hepple that Shae Yanez was just unable to bring under her control.
Whilst the two goals were undoubtedly a blow to the Lionesses, the team never stopped hunting for the equaliser, with Muya, Primus and Napier continuing their pressure on the Durham defence.
Yet even with the bulk of possession, City were unable to crack that defence and in the end it was simply a tale of two halves for the Lionesses.
Speaking after the match, manager Melissa Phillips had this to say on the game:
“We're all disappointed by it,” she said, “this one hits pretty hard to the group as it’s a game defined by the first five minutes of the second half and a couple of set pieces.
“There are some areas of course we can be better in, but once they got the goal back and then went up with another in such quick succession, they then just made the game really hard for us and it was difficult to execute our style of play.”
But of course, with every game, win, lose or draw, there are lessons that can be learned.
“We're going to take some time to reflect on this one. There are always positives that we can pick out and areas that are going to challenge us and stretch us as a group, but first we’ll take some time to reflect.”
One again though, this was a match where from minute one to the final whistle, the players never stopped running and trying to get that second goal.
“It's never a group that I can fault for effort,” said Phillips, “they're determined, they’re willing to work hard and there's a lot of belief in the group and I know we will respond from this.”
One definite positive that can be taken from the game was the debut of one of the January signings, Shanade Hopcroft.
“It was a tough game to come into for Shanade,” said Phillips, “she had to battle through tough conditions and the physicality of the game, but she got on the ball and got into some good spaces. Ultimately, it's just about finding her feet and rhythm with the team and helping her as much as we can.”
For the Lionesses, they next take on Crystal Palace away from home. Click the link to get your tickets and follow the Pride!