It was a trip to the northeast to remember for the London City Lionesses, as they ran out 2-0 winners against Sunderland A.F.C Ladies.
It took little over four minutes for City to make their stamp on the game, with Jamie-Lee Napier cutting it back in the box, from a corner, for Carley Girasoli to find the back of the net, for her first goal for the club.
Yet it didn’t take long for Sunderland to come looking for an equalizer, with Emma Kelly having a free kick well saved by Shae Yanez.
However, when it came to dangers from dead balls, Amy Rodgers was a constant threat for London City, with the first half seeing her send in one particularly dangerous cross for Girasoli, whose header was just inches wide of doubling the Lionesses lead.
But it was the pressure City put on which really made a difference in that opening half, with one such move seeing Rodgers steal the ball of the Sunderland back line, to then find Karin Muya with a through ball, who squared it to Rianna Jarrett, whose shot was just wide.
With just a minute left to play of the first half, it looked like the Lionesses might just have got that second goal they had been searching for, when Lucy Fitzgerald cut back inside the box to curl a shot towards goal, yet it sailed just past the post.
The second half saw Sunderland come out of the break with a point to prove.
After getting a half chance from a corner, which saw a header find the crossbar, they came back again from a throw-in, with their midfield combining nicely to get a shot away that needed Yanez at full stretch to keep out.
Yet London City were able to weather the storm and keep on pushing for that second goal that would ensure a victory.
And with 88 minutes on the clock, they managed it, a mistake by the keeper saw the ball drop to Brooke Nunn, and then to Jarrett who made no mistake in sticking it in the back of the net.
Speaking after the final whistle had gone, manager Melissa Phillips was pleased with the way her team conducted themselves over the 90 minutes.
“Sometimes you just have to grind out a result and credit to Sunderland, they've been a very tough team to play against in the league this year.
“They're organized, they work hard, they made it a tough game and I think we did a good job to control the game with our possession.
“We could have been a bit better in wide areas at times, but ultimately, we were able to convert two set piece goals which is a focal point for everybody in the league, and certainly ourselves as of late.”
The work that the team has done on set pieces in training was clear for all to see on Sunday, with the first goal especially a clear sign of the direction things are moving in for the Lionesses.
Indeed, for Phillips, the timing of the goal, as well as the nature of it, was reason enough to be cheerful.
“The early goal obviously builds a bit of confidence, but it also changes the game,” said Phillips, “it means that the opposition can't just sit in on you, they have to come to play.
“We faced a few challenges in transition with them, but I think we managed those moments really well and we dealt with their set pieces really well.
“They're one of the best teams in the league with their delivery on set pieces, so I think we did a really good job, executing our game plan and making first contact.”
Of course, it also helps having a forward in as good form as Rianna Jarrett is in.
“Rianna got into some really good spots, and she's maybe a bit unfortunate not to tuck a few more away when she's been in those kinds of positions,” remarked Philips, “But, we know she can be very, very clinical and it's great for her to get the goal.
“But ultimately it was a product of us closing out the game properly and seeing it out to draw the set piece near the corner late in the game.”
London City Lionesses: Yanez (GK), Fleming (Rossiter 92'), Primus, Muya (Nunn, 79'), Fitzgerald, Bennett (C), Napier, Fronc, Jarrett (GOAL, 88') , Rodgers (Rouse 74'), Girasoli (GOAL, 4')
Subs not used: Neville, Thompson, Pedersen, Short
For the Lionesses, they next face Sheffield United Women at Princes Park. Click here to find out more and get your tickets now!