WSL: Brighton v Leicester City
The Foxes pull of the Great Escape and retain their place in the top division
28 May 2023
Leicester City secured safety in the Women’s Super League with a final day 1-0 win away at Brighton & Hove Albion. Second half substitute Ava Baker scored the only goal in the 73rd minute. By staying up, the Foxes created WSL history by becoming the first side to make up a seven-point deficit at the bottom of the league and survive.
The travelling Leicester fans were in good voice on a sunny and warm afternoon at the Broadfield Stadium. They knew a win for their side would keep them up whilst any other result meant they would be depending on Reading not beating Chelsea.
It was Brighton though who made the better start, and they had the first chance in the 5th minute when Elisabeth Terland back-heeled a Katie Robinson cross into the keepers hands. A minute later, Kayleigh Green sent a fierce shot from 25-yards high and wide.
It took until the 15th minute for the next effort. It went the home sides way again when Robinson run down the right side and her cross was deflected into Janina Lietzig’s hands. Robinson’s runs were causing problems but the next cross was overhit and missed her teammates in the penalty area.
In the 17th minute, Leicester had their first opportunity when Hannah Cain dragged her shot wide of the post after being played in by Carrie Jones. It was the Seagulls who had the next effort two minutes later but Terland put her shot wide.
From then onwards, it was near enough Leicester with all the chances. Missy Goodwin put an effort wide from just inside the area in the 23rd minute. Jones miskicked in front of goal in the 32nd minute as they had missed a third good chance to go ahead. Appeals for a penalty for the visitors were waved away by referee Abigail Byrne after Aileen Whelan went down in the area five minutes before the break.
It was goalless at half time but with Reading losing 2-0 at this stage, Leicester would be safe anyway.
Leicester carried on having chances in the second half but not taking them. Remy Siemsen had an effort easily stopped by Megan Walsh five minutes into it. Cain put a free kick over the crossbar in the 53rd minute, before a Cain cross hit Siemsen in front of goal and went behind. Siemsen had another opportunity a few minutes later but put this one went wide. Cain then headed over in the 60th minute.
Substitutions and stoppages then interrupted the game for a spell after the hour mark. It was one of those substitutes who put Leicester ahead. England Under-17 international Baker found the back of the net from close range following a corner.
Three minutes later, another Leicester corner was headed wide by Sam Tierney. Whelan was then denied by a good stop from Walsh seconds after that.
Brighton hadn’t threatened the Leicester goal at all during the second half until the 87th minute when Lietzig saved a Terland shot before Veatriki Sarri put an effort wide. Danielle Carter had an effort blocked for the home side in stoppage time.
A final Brighton effort from Emma Kullberg went well wide, and this turned out to be the last opportunity of the match as the final whistle went shortly after confirming Leicester’s place in the WSL next season.
After the match there were presentations to Victoria Williams, Kayleigh Green, Megan Connolly, Danielle Carter and Megan Walsh after it had been announced they will be leaving Brighton when their contracts expire over the summer.
Willie Kirk’s side Leicester side had a fantastic second half of the season, picking up all their 16 points since January, and this win also saw the Foxes move up to 10th place in the league whilst Brighton dropped down to 11th.
Brighton & Hove Albion (3-4-3): Walsh, Bergsvand, Morse, Stott (V. Williams 73’), Kullberg, Zigiotti (c) (Stefanovic 85’), Symonds (Carter 65’), Green (Pattinson 65’), Robinson (Visalli 85’), Lee (Sarri 85’), Terland
Unused substitutes: Startup, Jarvis, Connolly
Booked – Lee, Symonds
Leicester City (4-1-2-1-2): Leitzig, Bott (Purfield 78’), Howard (Eaton-Collins 89’), Plumptre, Nevin, Tierney, Whelan (c), Jones (Pike 78’), Goodwin (O’Brien 60’), Siemsen (Baker 67’), Cain (Robinson 67’)
Unused substitutes: Lambourne, Reavill, Green
Goal – Baker 73’
Booked - Bott
Referee – Abigail Byrne
Attendance – 3,073