Bristol City 2-4 Leicester: Seven-minute blitz sees Foxes triumph
Resilient Leicester scored three times in seven minutes either side of half-time to come from behind and spoil Bristol City’s return to the Women’s Super League with a 4-2 win at Ashton Gate.
Back in the top flight after an absence of two seasons, the Robins went ahead when Carrie Jones marked her debut with a brilliant strike in the 33rd minute. But new signing Aimee Palmer, playing against her former club, produced an equally stunning effort to fire the Foxes level in first-half added time.
And the visitors took control after the break, Shannon O’Brien putting them in front and German striker Lena Petermann heading a third on her debut three minutes later. Fellow debutant Jutta Rantala increased Leicester’s lead before Amalie Thestrup netted her first Robins goal from the spot to provide a silver lining.
The Robins began tentatively and it was Leicester who played the more cohesive football. Missy Goodwin was at the heart of the visitors’ best work and her early cross narrowly failed to find Petermann, while Sophie Howard was inches too high with a thunderous drive from range.
Foxes debutant Janice Cayman then squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to break the deadlock, the veteran Belgian international scuffing her shot wide when unmarked after Goodwin had again prized open the defensive cover.
City finally discovered their mojo 12 minutes before the break, Brooke Aspin delivering a free-kick towards the penalty area which caused consternation in Leicester ranks. Surrounded by five defenders, Wales international Jones wriggled free and produced a sublime finish from the edge of the 18 yard box to beat Janina Leitzig and open her account following her summer move from Manchester United.
Now firmly on top, the Robins almost added to their tally when Morgan whipped in an inviting cross from the right and Howard almost put through her own goal as she stretched full-length to clear the danger.
But the Foxes weathered the storm and produced the perfect riposte in added time. City only half cleared a corner and Palmer, sensing an opportunity, drove her shot left-footed beyond Fran Bentley’s despairing dive and into the top corner from 20 yards out.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Leicester scored twice in three minutes early in the second half to turn the tables. O’Brien fired the Foxes in front with an angled shot after being set-up by Courtney Nevin and, moments later, new signing Petermann netted with a bullet header following a corner.
City head coach Lauren Smith introduced Jamie-Lee Napier and Ellie Syme in a bid to revive her team’s fortunes, but Leicester extended their lead eight minutes from time, substitute Rantala slotting home on her debut. Substitute Thestrup became the fifth debutant to score in the game, pulling a goal back for the home side from the penalty spot after Catherine Bott had fouled Mari Ward.