It was another memorable derby day for the London City Lionesses, as they ran out 2-0 winners over Charlton Athletic, in front of the Princes Park faithful.
Going into the match, there were a few returning faces to the London City starting 11, with Karin Muya back from injury and Grace Neville making her first league appearance of the season.
From the outset, the Lionesses looked to impose themselves on the game, with the first real chance of the match falling to Brooke Nunn, who was played in over the top by Katie Kitching.
Nunn was able to beat her defender, but her shot was covered by the Charlton keeper.
The momentum was very much with City from that point, with Jamie-Lee Napier setting up the next big chance for the home side, as her shot from outside the box was deflected into the path of Lily Agg.
Agg was able to control it and bring it round past the Charlton centre-back, but her shot just nicked off the far post.
Heading into the end of the first half, City continued to build pressure on the visitors.
Once again it was Napier down the flanks causing problems for Charlton, with a pin point ball into the box, which evaded everyone except Muya, who was able to get on the end of it and volley it home.
The second half brought more pressure from City, but the visitors were not content to sit back, forcing the Lionesses to react quickly to their pressing.
With just over 60 minutes played, London City brought on Shanade Hopcroft and Annie Rossiter to add to the attacking unit, with the former making an immediate impact and getting a shot away that was a whisker wide of the post.
A corner soon followed, with Hopcroft sending in a well struck cross which was met by Harley Bennett, forcing the keeper into a goal line save.
But it would prove to be Muya’s day, as she won the ball back from the Charlton centre-back to go one-on-one with the keeper, and slot it past her in the dying minutes of the game.
Speaking after the full-time whistle, manager Melissa Phillips had this to say on the match:
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Phillips, “such was the nature of how the game went last time, and the way that Charlton have performed out of possession throughout the season.
“We’re really happy to get two goals on them today, but for us, most importantly it was about competing.
“We want to be a hard-working team and really difficult to break down, and we proved that today, and goals come off the back of having that mentality.”
The win brings to an end a difficult few weeks for the Lionesses, with a couple of tight games going against them.
But for Phillips, that’s where the importance of the mindset of the team can be seen.
“Our mindset has been a big focal point for us recently because we’ve had a few results not go our way, and we've performed well in some of those matches and performed okay in others,” said Phillips.
“We haven’t had a stint of games yet this season where we dropped points multiple games in a row. So, we had to find it within ourselves to have a growth mindset and show a bit more grit, which I think that we proved today on the pitch.”
That grit was certainly there for all to see, from both familiar and returning faces to the starting 11.
“It’s great to have Karin back in the line-up,” said Phillips, “for her second goal, something we encourage her to do all the time is to jump on that weak side, and it really paid off today.
“It was also fantastic to have Grace back in today, she put it in absolute shift, and was always very calm and clean, especially out of possession.
“With the way we play, our fullbacks have to make a lot of decisions, especially against an opposition who play so direct in wide areas, so it was great to see her, Katie and Jamie put in such shifts.”
Next up for the Lionesses, it’s the international break, before a midweek clash with Lewes under the lights of Princes Park.
“For us, the next few days will be about rest following this six-game stint, and then all eyes will focus on Lewes, and working to emulate the performance that we put in today.”
The Lionesses return to Princes Park in just over a week to take on Lewes on Thursday the 14th of April! Click the link to get your tickets now!