FAWC Preview: London City Lionesses

Founded in 2019, London City Lionesses are still one of the most successful of all the fledgeling clubs within the women’s football pyramid. Coached by Melissa Phillips, after she was promoted from assistant coach to the role of head coach after the departure of Lisa Fallon. Phillips was formerly the youngest head coach of an NCAA Division One program at CSU Bakersfield, before becoming an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania. 

In the famously cancelled season of 2019/20, London City were credited with finishing in fourth place, the position they held at the time of the cancellation, although teams below with games in hand might argue that given the chance they would have climbed above them had the season progressed.

Last season they finished a very respectable sixth place, above local rivals Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic. Phillips will be looking to improve on their total of twenty four points and a goal difference of zero. While they were tough to beat they struggled to score enough goals, something Phillips has looked to address by bringing in Rianna Jarrett (Brighton & Hove Albion), Amy Rodgers (Liverpool) and Jamie-Lee Napier (Chelsea).

Also joining the squad are Brooke Nunn (London Bees), Charlotte Fleming (Leicester City), Karin Muya (San Marino FC), Carly Girasoli (Rangers), Anna Pedersen (Everton), Mollie Rouse (Lewes) and Melis Mehmet on loan from Arsenal.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s game with Liverpool, Phillips told me, “Recruitment is something that’s done all year long, not just within the transfer window in terms of identifying the right fit personnel on the field, but the right people who compliment the culture that we’re building. So it was a very busy summer, but we’re incredibly pleased with the players that we’ve been able to bring in and who they are as people and how they’ve added value to the team.”

``We started looking at players, even such as Rihanna (Jarrett) this time a year ago and evaluating players within the Super League, within our league and internationally, pending new Brexit rules.``

For me, the new additions will make London City more dangerous going forward but I am most excited about seeing how young forward Atlanta Primus continues to develop and build on her tally of four goals. Phillips describes Primus as having an incredbile drive to improve and a desire to drive standards in all areas of the team. Adding, “Her ambitions and values match the direction the club is moving and we are eager to work alongside her in the pursuit of both her personal/professional and our team goals.”

After the departure of last season’s co-captains, Ellie Mason (Lewes) and Ylenia Priest (Watford) the club have again named co-captains in Harley Bennett and Shae Yanez.

Looking forward to the future, with the Women’s Championship moving closer to becoming fully professional I asked Phillips how she felt the club are set up to manage that transition. She told me, “I think when you look at London City’s goals and ambitions and being that we’re only going into our third season as a member of the Women’s Championship, let alone as a club. We’ve had an unbelievable amount of growth year to year leading into this year. I think we’ve gotten incredible backing within our Chair Woman, Diane Colgan and our board, and an incredibly ambitious group of staff and players to drive the club forward.”

“The goal is to be in the Super League but the goal is to create an environment where players thrive, develop and where they’re challenged competitively. That’s what we take pride in, in terms of our processes and how it sets us up for success on the field.”

You can follow the opening of their campaign this weekend against Liverpool at Prenton Park. Live coverage of the match can be found via free streams on YouTube and the LFC Women Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Photo: London City Lionesses