After two weeks without a match, London City Lionesses are back in action this weekend facing London rivals, Charlton Athletic.
The Lionesses hope to emulate the performance that earned them the three points against Charlton earlier in the year, where the Lionesses won the away fixture 1-0 after a great strike from Kallie Balfour.
After two defeats on the bounce, the Lionesses are hoping to find the form that got them an unbeaten run of six games earlier in the season, as they continue their strong progression under Melissa Phillips.
Speaking to Lionesses’ Head Coach, Phillips, about the level of competitiveness in the Championship, she said “Regardless of the position in the table, this league is competitive and that's what we've learned. We've referenced it a lot in previous chats, our result against Leicester, we are the only team who's beaten them. And then you look at the Leicester - Durham game that happened just a week ago, it was a close match. So, it doesn't matter where you are at the table. You have to show up, compete and assert yourself and execute the game plan on the day. That will be important for us this Sunday.”
Looking towards another London derby on Sunday and reflecting on the 1-0 away win against Charlton earlier in the season, Phillips said “It was an incredibly tough match against them. It was a tale of two halves."
“I think we had the better of possession and opportunities in the first half. Then they made some changes in personnel and they had a little bit more momentum in transition in the second half. So, we really had to grind out a result on the road and an incredible 1-0 win. I think that was our first win on the road in over a year, given the break with COVID as well."
“But it’s ultimately the difference of scoring a goal, so we know we'll have to be able to produce quality chances and do that again on Sunday.”
Speaking to Lionesses defender, Lenny Priest, about the mood in the camp, she said “We’re determined. I think we've all set goals as individuals and as a group going into each game to finish as high as we can."
“Training has been really good. It's been intense at times which is good. But like Mel says we've also had some easier sessions, a bit of team bonding which has been nice. I think everyone is really focused on getting as maximum points as possible.”
On the London derby against Charlton this Sunday, Priest commented “It'll be a very tough game, they're a great side. Obviously with the new manager as well, they're all going to be wanting to impress her. It will be like the previous six years; it’s going to be tough. Both teams are going to be really up for it and really wanting to win. I think it'd be a really good game to watch.”
“I think there's naturally more of a buzz to it because it is a derby and it's a fixture that you really want to win and obviously the players know each other as well. So that adds to the competitiveness. To be honest it’s the same as any other game. Every game in this league is very tough.”
Commenting on the strong defensive displays the Lionesses have produced this season in comparison to last season, Priest said “I think the difference probably is confidence, one clean sheet brings confidence into the next game. We had a really good run of clean sheets which as a defender that just breeds confidence. Especially for the attacking players because they know they have just got to score a goal and then we'll win the game. Also, having a year together last season has led into this year, in terms of building relationships and having an understanding with who you're playing with.”
You can follow the build-up to Sunday’s match at 4:30pm with the live match updates via the London City Lionesses Twitter feed. The match will be available for live streaming via the FA Player app.