Leicester City Women Football Club

Season Review Part 3: October

After a difficult September in the League, Leicester City headed into October with 4 back to back home league matches to re-find their form. The Foxes faced early pace-setters Huddersfield Town as well as unbeaten AFC Fylde alongside visits from Derby County and Stoke City. In the League Cup, Jonathan Morgan’s side had been drawn at home to newly promoted Bolton Wanderers Ladies meaning they would spend the whole of October at Farley Way.

LCWFC 0 – 0 AFC Fylde
Date: Sunday 1st October 2017
Competition: FA WPL Northern Division
Venue: Farley Way Stadium

Having lost 4-0 on the opening day of the 2016/17 season away to AFC Fylde, a 0-0 draw could be seen as a good result showing the journey the Foxes have made. The feeling after the game though, was certainly focused more on the two points dropped rather than one point gained.

AFC Fylde rarely tested Charlotte Clarke in the Leicester goal, with the Foxes creating a number of good opportunities at the other end only to be denied by the Fylde ‘keeper, the woodwork and on more than one occasion, simply poor finishing.

The best chance of a slow first half fell to Rosie Axten who twisted past two defenders but her curled shot from just inside the area was tipped away for a corner by the Fylde goalkeeper.

In a marginally more lively second half, AFC Fylde’s Natasha Flint struck an effort from distance that was well saved by City keeper Clarke, before Nat Johnson crashed a header against the crossbar from a Rosie Axten corner. Neither side could find a telling breakthrough leaving the points shared at the final whistle.

LCWFC 3 – 2 Huddersfield Town
Date: Sunday 8th October 2017
Competition: FA WPL Northern Division
Venue: Farley Way Stadium
Goalscorers: Nat Johnson ’21 ’51, Leigh Dugmore ’64 | Hannah Campbell ’33, Brittany Sanderson ’45

Huddersfield Town arrived at Farley Way sitting a point ahead of Leicester having played one game more. The Terriers though had led the table after winning their opening three matches, but arrived in Leicester without a win in 4 games.

Despite a nervy opening to the game, it was Leicester who took the lead an in-swinging corner from Rosie Axten was headed in by Nat Johnson who claimed her 4th goal of the season.

Huddersfield responded well after going behind, top scorer Hannah Campbell producing a great shot from the edge of the area which narrowly eluded the outstretched arm of Charlotte Clarke to bring the visitors back level. Things went from bad to worse for Leicester who conceded again on the stroke of half time, Brittany Sanderson allowed plenty of time on the ball inside the Leicester area to calmly walk the ball round the keeper before slotting into the empty net.

Leicester did respond well after the break, with Manager Jonathan Morgan’s words still ringing in there ears they got themselves back on level terms as Nat Johnson got her second of the game. Rosie Axten delivered a brilliant free kick into the Huddersfield area which the keeper spilled into the path of Nat Johnson who fired the ball home.

The equaliser sparked Leicester back into life, and the Foxes took just another 10 minutes to retake the lead, Charlotte Greengrass perfectly timing her through ball over the top for Leigh Dugmore to chace, the City striker controlling the ball well before slotting past the on-coming keeper to give City the lead again.

Leicester did had chances to kill the game off inside the final half an hour including Dugmore hitting the crossbar but they failed to make Huddersfield pay for defensive mistakes. Leicester’s missed chances almost cost them inside stoppage time when substitute Emily Heckler fired a dipping shot from the edge of the area but Charlotte Clarke matched it with a great save.

LCWFC 4 – 0 Derby County
Date: Wednesday 11th October 2017
Competition: FA WPL Northern Division
Venue: Farley Way Stadium
Goalscorers: Sophie Domingo ’16 ’56, Leigh Dugmore ’63, Kim Farrow ’82

Having picked up their first League win in 4 matches in the win over Huddersfield, Leicester were in good spirits heading into a local derby with Derby County Ladies.

The Foxes started the game brightly and took just 3 minutes to have the first shot on target when Sophie Domingo set up Leigh Dugmore whose first time shot was tipped over the bar from close range. five minutes later and again City went close, Dugmore this time turning provider as her low cross into the box caused a mix up with the Derby defence but Nat Johnson’s shot was straight at the keeper.

With just over 15 minutes on the clock, Leicester finally found the breakthrough, Nat Johnson put a low cross into the box which Dugmore turned goalwards, the Derby goalkeeper could only parry the ball back out and Sophie Domingo turned home the rebound to give the Foxes a well deserved lead.

City continued to press throughout the first half but failed to find the killer pass, Sophie Domingo almost grabbed her second of the game with a shot from just inside the area but it was well saved by the Derby shot-stopper. Deep into first half stoppage time, Holly Morgan played a perfectly weighted through ball for Sophie Domingo to chase down, the City youngster was through on goal when she was brought down by the goalkeeper, with the referee deciding only to brandish the yellow card. City failed to make anything of the free kick and headed into the break with only a slender 1-0 lead after a dominating performance.

In the second half, Leicester looked up for the fight again, Sophie Domingo took just 10 minutes to double the scoreline as she controlled the ball well inside the Derby 18 yard box before turning inside her defender and firing a shot low into the bottom corner. The 2nd goal gave Leicester the confidence to push on and just 5 minutes later they had themselves a third. Sophie Domingo this time turning provider to put a well timed cross into the box for the arriving Leigh Dugmore to head home.

City could have extended their lead further in the second half as the Derby defence started to tire, substitute Kim Farrow struck the post seconds after coming on but made amends inside the final 10 minutes as she picked the ball up from the goalkeepers clearance to calmly round the keeper and power the ball home to round off the scoring.

LCWFC 3 – 4 Stoke City
Date: Sunday 22nd October 2017
Competition: FA WPL Northern Division
Venue: Farley Way Stadium
Goalscorers: Leigh Dugmore ’10, Sophie Domingo ’46 Rosie Axten ’56 | Hannah Keryakoplis ’16, Rachel Ball ’34, Ashleigh Hayes ’89, Kelsey Richardson ’90

City’s final league game of October saw them entertain a Stoke City side who had suffered a 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough in their last League match before taking Blackburn all the way to penalties in the league cup, only to lose 4-3.

Despite the potentially tired legs, it was Stoke who started the game brighter, with Hannah Keryakoplis testing Charlotte Clarke out early on but the City keeper was sharp to protect her near post. With just 10 minutes on the clock it was Leicester who took the lead, as Leigh Dugmore rounded off a fine solo move to beat the Stoke keeper from just outside the 6 yard box.

Leicester’s lead lasted just 5 minutes as Hannah Keryakoplis tested Clarke again from a similar distance, this time perfectly finding the corner of the net to give Charlotte Clarke little chance of keeping it out. With the scores back level again, it was Stoke City who looked most likely to re-take the lead, the visitors were testing Leicester’s defensive line in numbers with Leicester Captain Holly Morgan being called on for some important defensive blocks.

With 10 minutes of the first half to go, Stoke’s pressure finally paid off, Rachel Ball was allowed time and space on the ball to travel into the area where she picked out the far corner of the net to hand the visitors the lead heading into half time.

A second half response was needed from Leicester and that was exactly what came, Sophie Domingo took just 90 seconds to level the scores up as she pounced on a defensive error  before curling a well placed shot past the Stoke goalkeeper. With the scores level, it was Leicester who now looked likely to push for a winner.

Jonathan Morgan’s side did find themselves in front just 10 minutes later, Olivia Mitcham managing to nick the ball away from Stoke City’s defence and play a perfect ball through to Leigh Dugmore who unselfishly pulled the ball back for Rosie Axten who simply rolled the ball home to re-take the lead.

City pushed for a fourth goal to kill the game off but Stoke’s defence held strong, with the keeper Natalie Hall producing some fine saves to keep the visitors in it. The saves would prove to be key, as heading into the final minute, Stoke City found themselves back on level terms, substitute Ashleigh Hayes picked out the top corner with a fantastic effort from the edge of the area to spark jubilant scenes on the visitors bench.

Despite the game then looking destined for a draw, Stoke carved out one final chance inside stoppage time as Kelsey Richardson hit a superb half volley arrowed into the top corner to hand the visitors all three points. Things went from bad to worse for Leicester as defender Charlotte Greengrass earned herself a red card after a coming together with a Stoke City forward before the referee eventually blew the full time whistle to bring to an end a crazy final five minutes.

LCWFC 3 – 0 Bolton Wanderers Ladies
Date: Sunday 29th October 2017
Competition: FA WPL League Cup (2nd Round)
Venue: Farley Way Stadium
Goalscorers: Rosie Axten ‘9 ’89, Olivia Mitcham ’75

Having seen off Chorley Ladies and The New Saints Ladies away from home in the previous two rounds, Leicester were handed a home tie with newly promoted Bolton Wanderers Ladies the visitors to Farley Way.

Bolton started the match brightly, with some fast link up play almost catching Erin Hannah out but she recovered well to prevent an early goal. Once Leicester found their rhythm there only looked to be one winner, even if Leicester were helped out by a little bit of luck. The opening goal coming inside the first 10 minutes as Rosie Axten put an in-swinging corner into the box which somehow evaded everybody and crept into the net at the back post.

The Foxes pushed for another goal inside the first half but two fantastic saves from the Bolton keeper denied both Paige Crossman and Sophie Domingo from extending their lead. Rosie Axten picked out a fantastic free kick to the back post in the final minute of the first half, but Rachel Brown’s late run couldn’t quite reach the ball to divert it goalwards.

It was one way traffic again in the second half as Leicester strived to find the elusive second goal, Leigh Dugmore struck the upright with a shot from the edge of the area before substitute Shauna Cossens diverted a header just wide of the near post from a corner. With 15 minutes left on the clock, Leicester eventually found the second goal, Olivia Mitcham heading home after a deep cross into the box from Rosie Axten.

Having picked up her first goal of the day in lucky circumstances, there was nothing lucky about Rosie’s 2nd of the afternoon, heading into stoppage time, Rosie Axten picked the ball up just inside the Bolton half, took the ball past two defenders before drilling the shot low into the bottom right hand corner past the outstretched arm of the visiting keeper.

The victory for Leicester sealed a place in the third round draw of the FA Women’s Premier League Cup, a draw which pulled them out in a home tie against local rivals Loughborough Foxes.

October in numbers

LCWFC Goals: 13
Top Goal Scorer: Leigh Dugmore, Sophie Domingo & Rosie Axten (3)
League Standing: 3rd