A second-half goal from Ash Goddard ensured the London Bees earned a share of the spoils at home to Brighton & Hove Albion. It was their first game of the inaugural FA WSL Spring Series, and saw them get off to a poor start at the Hive.
After missing a good chance to break the deadlock at the start of the game, Alessia Russo made amends with a brilliant solo goal in the 14th minute. She put the visitors ahead after cutting inside on the ball, beating two defenders and striking into the top corner.
Kate Natkiel, who was deadly linking up with Russo, had a chance to double Brighton’s advantage, only to be denied by goalkeeper Shayla Burgess after being put through one-on-one. The Seagulls are newly promoted to the WSL 2 but dominated the first half at the Hive, and may feel they should have gone into the break with a bigger lead.
London Bees made the visitors pay for not putting the game to bed in the first-half, dominating proceedings after the restart and finding an equaliser in the 55th minute. Goddard grabbed the leveller, heading home at the back post, and the hosts came close to going ahead in the game not long after.
Jo Wilson capitalised on poor defending from Brighton, rounding goalkeeper Emma Byrne, but saw her effort cleared off the line by Jenna Legg. The game finished as a draw, with both sides feeling they should have fared better when they were on top.
After the game, Brighton goalscorer Alessia Russo was happy to get on the scoresheet and revealed how well her and Natkiel have been linking up on the pitch.
“I can’t really remember the goal, I just saw the space open up and took it on. I should really have scored earlier anyway.
“Kate Natkiel is a great player and she’s great to play with. We’re both attack-minded and on the same page. We went in all guns blazing for our first match in the WSL and it was a bit like an FA Cup clash at times.
Russo also called on her side to build on their second-half performance: “We’ve got to keep going, doing what we’re doing, and working on some of the little things which didn’t work as well.”
London Bees winger Paula Howells was pleased he side responded positively, saying: “We wanted to show what we can do after a hard loss last time – this was all about expressing ourselves.”
Howell admitted the hosts struggled with nerves in the first-half, but managed to get a foothold in the game after the break. “We were a bit nervous as a squad at the beginning but we soon got into our stride and played better.
“Now we turn our attention to Watford in two weeks. It’s a local derby, and we’ve got a lot of ex-Watford players in our team, which should make things interesting!”