Last Sunday Leicester City confirmed their promotion to the 2021/22 Women’s Super League with a 2-0 victory over the London City Lionesses. Sam Tierney and Natasha Flint provided the goals, propelling Jonathan Morgan’s squad into the top flight of women’s football for the first time in their history.
Championships don’t fall out of the sky, of course, and this year’s success is a culmination of the club’s desire to build a strong, full-time women’s set-up through meticulous planning, investment in professional facilities and long-term faith in the coaching staff. But ultimately the players have to go out and deliver and they’ve done just that, leading from the front pretty much from day one.
D2B has taken a couple of peeks into the Foxes campaign this year (here and here) so it seemed only right that we close out what has been a brilliant year for Jonathan Morgan’s side.
“I’m still in a bit of shock. We’ve turned from semi-pro to pro and we’ve had the backing of the whole club and to do it on *Khun Vichai’s birthday, it’s a fantastic feeling because that’s amazing for everyone involved with the Club and the fans. To say we are officially WSL, it’s awesome really. We’ve got to the pinnacle of the women’s game in England and we just want to keep pushing ourselves and getting further and further with it and getting better and better.”Jonathan Morgan, Manager, Leicester City, via LCFC TV and lcfc.com
[*Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was Leicester City’s owner for eight years until he died in a tragic helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium in 2018]
The only team that beat the Foxes in the league this season were the London City Lionesses. So, how fitting then that they secured their berth in next year’s Super League by winning the return fixture 2-0 over the Easter Weekend at Farley Way.
In a nervy affair Leicester gave themselves a chance to forge ahead when defender Sam Tierney was brought down by the Lionesses’ keeper Shae Yanez in the penalty area. But the stopper atoned when she saved Charlie Devlin’s spot kick.
The hosts finally got the party started in the 69th with a goal straight off the training ground. Devlin clipped a low free-kick in from the right, Remi Allen back-heeled it into the six yard box and Tierney finished at the second bite.
In a matter of milliseconds, relief turned to unbridled joy. Even keeper Kirstie Levell sprinted the length of the pitch join the celebrations.
Devlin was involved again for the vital second goal, swinging a quality ball out to Esme de Graaf on the left; the full back cut inside and picked out Natasha Flint arriving in the penalty box and the striker thumped in her 15th goal of a terrific campaign on the half-volley.
“It’s been a long journey. It’s been seven years, where we were playing, in all honesty, off parks and out of tin sheds for changing rooms. I remember when I first started, I didn’t have even a squad. I think we only had 12 players, so to see that growth, it’s been a fantastic achievement.”Jonathan Morgan, Manager, Leicester City, via LCFC TV and lcfc.com
The Foxes had started the season back in September 2020 with a 3-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers. Flint bagged a brace that day and never looked back.
They played all the title favourites early. A late equalizer in a 2-2 draw at Sheffield United, showed that they had some steel and they followed that up with a good point against Durham and a 2-1 victory over Liverpool – when talented youngsters Paige Bailey-Gayle and Lachante Paul engineered the all-important strikes.
Their only defeat of the season came at Princes Park, Dartford back in November, after which they won twelve straight to clinch the title – beating each of their main rivals, crushing Coventry United 9-1 and hitting the London Bees for seven.
In amongst all this Leicester reached the semi-finals of the Continental Cup (eventually going out 0-1 to Bristol City) and ran Manchester City close in a Covid-19 delayed FA Cup Quarter Final.
What with our recent technical, er, ‘issues’, we’ve not really been able to do the team justice here, but there is a brilliant run down of Leicester’s season on the club website complete with video footage of the key games. Well worth a look at the link below: https://www.lcfc.com/news/2070061/lcfc-women-how-the-foxes-took-the-fa-womens-championship-by-storm
Now, of course, Jonathan Morgan has an ultra-tough summer ahead, figuring out whether sticking by a group of players that have achieved promotion is his best bet to competing in the WSL, or whether an influx of new faces will be required. It’s a headache, but one he’s no doubt happy to have. (Probably worth looking at Spurs and Villa over the last couple of seasons in that respect!).
The players, meanwhile, will surely be keen to keep the high going for as long as possible with wins in their last two Championship fixtures at Lewes, and then home to Charlton.
Congratulations from D2B to everyone at the club.
“[T]o be so consistently good this season, it’s been a great feeling and that, for me, is a testament to all the girls and the work they put in and the hard work that went in over the course of this season. So I’m just delighted, really. I think, for me, with the women’s game, it’s still about growing it. It’s still about encouraging the next generation of young female athletes and now the girls of Leicester have got a top team in the best league to look up to and to aspire to. I think that does more wonders than anything that we can ever think about really.”Jonathan Morgan, Manager, Leicester City, via LCFC TV and lcfc.com
Last year, we charted on the Feedspot Top 40 list of Women’s football blogs. No one was more surprised than us here at D2B Towers; there’s so much other good stuff out there. Anyhoo, check out the link above or our new Links page, there’s a heap of great blogs and websites written by people who really know their stuff and have an infectious passion for the women’s game…