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  • Writer's pictureHead Scout

First 3pts For Foxes

Leicester City 3-0 Brighton & Hove Albion (Women's Super League)

I was supposed to be at Matlock v Marine on Tuesday night, but the weather had me beaten. It’s the second time a game which I was scheduled to go to this season at Causeway Lane had been postponed, I’m sure I’ll get my fish & chips stop off at Matlock Bath in due course.

No matches booked in for Saturday as the wife’s got me running around after her, so Sunday it is and another ‘football de feminine’ for my feast as the WSL returns from its winter break. Bottom side Leicester taking on second bottom Brighton in the proverbial ‘relegation six pointer’.

Last league match was at the King Power Stadium which I attended as the Foxes were thumped 8-0 by Chelsea, since then they beat Women’s Championship outfit Sunderland 5-0 in midweek, a League Cup game that allowed Willie Kirk’s team to dust off some cobwebs. Brighton themselves not having that luxury as they last played against Manchester City, way back on December 4th.

We’ve taken the dog out to see his friends at the local Beagle meet and I’m running around Gamston Morrisons getting some bits in before heading home for a cuppa and setting off just after 1pm as I head south from Nottingham down the A46 to Leicester.

Sat Nav’s taking me a different route as I’m off the Leicester Western Bypass at Wanlip, a pretty looking village, before coming in to Birstall, which has a mix of Council Houses and Million-pound homes to look at.

Past the back of Watermead Country Park I’m on to the A6 and past Abbey Park, it’s a clear day, cold but bright as I drive down Vaughan Way in the city centre before coming to HMP Leicester and Leicester Tigers Rugby Club on Welford Road.

Straight down Brazil Street I’ve gone too far down Lineker Road, the site of the old Filbert Street Stadium which is now student flats, before I turn around onto Burnmoor Street before seeing the King Power Stadium in my windscreen, pulling up in car park C across the road.

The Venue

The beauty of women’s football is getting to this stadium is so much more accessible with only a small number of fans in comparison to when the men’s team play. Parking opposite you cross the road where the stadium stands alone, nothing much around here, other than a couple of car dealerships and a Holiday Inn, the roads aren’t even busy as I walk towards the Foxes Fanstore and sit down, on a bench near the statue of previous owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who tragically died five years ago in a helicopter crash.

It's 2pm, an hour before kick off as I walk over towards the entrances, accessing turnstile one of the West Stand I scan my mobile app and go through the barriers and into the concourse underneath the stand.

A quick pitstop before ordering a brew and a twirl at the kiosk, I’m served half a cup of tea and a firm cold chocolate bar for £4.50 which I pay contactless.

Up the stairs and out into the stadium open, the girls are warming up as I head up the steps towards my seat, the vast blue arena laid with green carpet in fine nick, I find some comfy padded seats towards the top of the stand, level with the eighteen yard box of the North Stand goal (the sections don’t seem to yet have the most imaginative of names? We still await the naming of the Claudio Ranieri Stand which is to surely one day come).

The Game

There’s a fella sat in front of me who’s at his first women’s game this season, he used to go to watch the men but it became too expensive so stopped going when they got to the Premier League. It’s £4 for him as an OAP. He’s already booking his ticket for the next home game v Manchester City, excited that he can get the Park & Ride from Enderby, it’s an 11:30am kick off on Saturday 4th February, telling me he’ll ‘get off at Aylestone Road and walk across’.

The game kicks off after a familiar rendition of Kasabian's Club Foot and the teams are read out (by a lady) as the players pose for pictures in front of the cameras, there’s a busy section of fans built up around me but the rest of the venue is bare, I’m told they’ll be just under 2,000 inside and it feels busier than the last time I was here, but that’s perhaps because I’m sat a bit lower down than last time and nearer the action of mainly families and parents with a single drummer down below.

I’m impressed by the start of Leicester who knock it around well, some sharp one touch passing and patterns in threes and fours which have me nodding my head in appreciation. Brighton, the away side look sharper on the break, getting it out wide to Katie Robinson who has pace looks their best outlet, she’s electric and causing all sorts of problems on the right, but Leicester have their own effective wingers who are growing into the game, Molly Pike is equally quick and direct down the Foxes right, but the brilliantly named Missy Goodwin is something else on the left, she has guile and swagger, drops her shoulder like Chris Waddle and glides like Jack Grealish, herself a former Aston Villa player, she’s elegant on the ball and never gives it away, she also has the beating, every time of her full back who's in for a tough ride.

The Score

It’s no less than they deserve as Leicester take the lead a minute before half time, intricate football around the edge of the box ends with a one-two and Aileen Whelan finishing low underneath the goalkeeper.

I tell the old boy in front of me who went for an early piss “you’ve missed all the action” as he returns to his seat during the break, he’s been chatting to the steward and now thinks he’s the lucky mascot. I tell him “you should go for a piss more often”.

I say to him “they’ve been the better side” and we debate on whether the Foxes should stick, or twist, during the second half, Leicester come out and have no intentions on holding on to what they have got, they smell blood and immediately attack, a free kick is headed into the box where Sam Tierney is running in unmarked, slotting home a second with just three minutes played.

That goal knocked the sails off Brighton’s boat and it was Leicester who crowned off a perfect day by adding a third, Goodwin’s shot blocked falling to Monique Robinson who’s immediate impact off the bench was to smash home from the edge of the area.

Leicester goalkeeper Janina Leitzig made a couple of decent late stops on debut, but by then, the game already won, the Foxes securing their first points of the season, and closing the gap on Brighton to just four, at the midway stage of the league campaign.

The Stars

Missy Goodwin was not just pleasing on the eye but effective in possession, always very calm she forever found a team-mate no matter how much pressure she was under, and had the beating of her marker whether it be on the outside, or inside, not much pace, not many tricks, a drop of the shoulder and she’s off, like John Robertson the great Scot who played for Nottingham Forest in the late seventies and early eighties, a real classy looking intelligent footballer with a talent to torment full backs just by being very direct.

Other than Goodwin, there were many other magnificent Leicester displays on show, the back four and midfield were all immense, this remember the first WSL game that City have won this season, all players playing their part from goalkeeper to fourth sub, the likes of CJ Bott and Ashley Plumptre assured in defence, Mollie Pike, Aileen Whelan and Carrie Jones, all playing their part in the midfield, Hannah Cain up top was another threat, Brighton defensively just weren’t at the races as they were often out fought and out worked by the home side.

The Albion however did have a couple of players who impressed me with right winger Katie Robinson an absolute speed train who could carry the ball forward very well indeed, not backed up often enough, centre forward Lee Geum-Min played a false nine position, picking the ball up deep and trying to make things tick, she looked a useful footballer with a decent footballing brain, but not enough of her team-mates on the day, dug in with quality to ensure it was they, going back south with the points, rather than leaving Leicester with nothing.

The Verdict

Willie Kirk is relatively new in his role as Leicester manager and with this type of football, this type of confidence, I don’t see why his side can’t pick up plenty more points, as they look to achieve what only a few days ago may have looked like an impossible task ahead.

Brighton could easily get drawn in dependent on whether Leicester’s victory is a one off, or the start of something bigger and better, they’ll be watching with one eye open, and on the eyes that I used to witness their performance in LE2, I won’t be surprised if it’s them come May, that take the unwanted plunge to the Championship instead of Leicester.

In the Seagulls defence, this is their first game of the new year and they still have thirteen to play, in Manager Jens Scheuer who is also new to the job, they have a boss who’s coached at Bayern Munich and Freiburg with a German league title under his belt, he'll need all of his experience to improve matters going forward, as Brighton look to survive the drop.

The Teams

Leicester City: Janina Leitzig, CJ Bott, Sophie Howard, Ashleigh Plumptre (Erin Simon 84), Jemma Purfield, Sam Tierney, Molly Pike, Aileen Whelan, Carrie Jones (Monique Robinson 65), Hannah Cain (Ava Baker 73), Missy Goodwin (Mackenzie Smith 84).

Brighton & Hove Albion: Megan Walsh, Jorja Fox, Zoe Morse, Guro Bergsvand, Poppy Pattinson, Dejana Stefanovic (Brianna Vasalli 38), Julia Zigiotti Olme, Veatrika Sarri (Danielle Carter 58), Katie Robinson, Lee Geum-Min, Kayleigh Green (Maisie Symonds 70).

3pm Kick Off. Sunday 15th January 2023, Leicester City Stadium (att 1,800).

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