Leicester City registered their first win of the FA Women’s Championship season as three second half goals gave them a comfortable win over Lewes.
After a goalless opening half, the Foxes opened the scoring when Hayley James followed up Annabel Blanchard’s saved effort early in the second-half.
Tricky winger Lachante Paul doubled Leicester’s advantage with a superb solo goal, jinking past a Lewes challenge before curling a controlled effort high into the net.
And substitute Libby Smith sealed the points for the away side with seven minutes remaining, rounding Lewes goalkeeper Faye Baker when played clean through for a one-on-one.
Leicester fully deserved their win on the balance of play, controlling possession in a first-half which lacked attacking impetus from either side.
Yet Lewes did come closest to breaking the first-half deadlock, as midfielder Ellie Noble struck the bar from 25 yards out, with striker Jess King scuffing the rebound wide.
Leicester finally managed to find the breakthrough five minutes after half-time as Blanchard escaped the Lewes defenders to break clear, and while Barker was equal to the Leicester forward’s effort, James was on hand at the rebound to poke the ball home.
Ten minutes later, the Foxes grabbed an important second goal as Paul cut inside from the left and curled an unstoppable effort past Faye Baker, who was rooted to the spot.
And despite some slight pressure from Lewes to reduce the deficit, Smith ran clear on goal and rode a challenge from Baker to tap the home in to secure a valuable away win.
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Lewes midfielder Amy Taylor said: “We’re very frustrated. As a team it’s been really positive the last couple of weeks. Obviously we haven’t got the results, but the result shouldn’t have gone our way today. The better team won.
“They worked harder than us both on and off the ball. We do need to look at ourselves and see what’s gone wrong today.
“I don’t think we ever dominated the game. We’d like to consider the way that we play, because we keep the ball and play very good football.
“But Leicester are a really good side, they’re a young side so you’re going to expect energy when they come down.”
Leicester defender Lucy Johnson said: “It’s been coming for a long time. All the girls are so happy because we didn’t have the best start and we know that we’re better than what we were like at the start of the season but it’s really nice.
“We just worked so hard in training the last few weeks and believed in ourselves and the coaches just built so much confidence in us. We knew that we could play better than what we were and we knew we could win.”
Lewes (4-4-2): Faye Baker (c); Ella Powell, Caitlin Hayes, Rhian Cleverly, Sammy Quayle; Danielle Lane, Filippa Savva, Ellie Noble, Amy Taylor; Zoe Ness, Jess King
Substitutes: Emma Jones (for Taylor, half-time) Emily Donovan (on for Savva, 58), Sophie O’Rourke (on for Quale, 66) Substitutes not used: Ava Rowbottam, Sophie O’Rourke, Sienna Howell.
Leicester (4-2-3-1): Scarlett Field; Lia Cataldo, Georgia Popple, Nat Johnson, Lucy Johnson; Holly Morgan (c), Rachel Brown; Hayley James, Annabel Blanchard, Lachante Paul; Paige Bailey-Gayle
Substitutes: Leigh Dugmore (on for James, 64), Libby Smith (on for Bailey-Gayle 96), Freya Thomas (on for Rachel Brown, 85) Demi Lambourne, Aimee Everett, Simran Jhamat, Freya Thomas.
Goals: Hayley James 50, Lachante Paul 63, Libby Smith 83
Referee: Lucy-Ann Briggs