Southampton FC Women shared the points with London City Lionesses in their final league game of 2022.
Two second half goals saw the sides share the spoils in one of the most competitive games of the season.
London City started the brighter of the two sides, enjoying the majority of the possession in the opening ten minutes.
Saints did well to absorb the early pressure, with captain Rosie Parnell rising above a number of plays inside the first five minutes to deny from a corner.
When they did get possession however, Saints looked as dangerous as they have done in previous games; Lucia Kendall provided an intelligent dink over the top to feed Katie Wilkinson, only to see the flag raised on the far side.
The home side were cursing Saints’ number one in the eighth minute, as Kayla Rendell denied from close range at least three times before the defence were able to properly clear.
Leeta Rutherford and Beth Lumsden were the next pairing to trouble the Lionesses, as a defence-splitting ball from Rutherford saw the Saints number ten rush through into the left side of the penalty area and send a cross-shot slicing towards Shae Yanez, who scrambled it away.
Saints grew into the game, with possession becoming increasingly equal as the half wore on.
Ella Morris went inches from scoring, as a looping ball over the top saw her rush forward, going one-on-one with Yanez. The London City Lionesses keeper did well to make herself big and deny, much to the exasperation of the travelling Saints contingent.
Rendell was once again called into action as the game passed the half an hour point as ball into the box saw a close range shot smashed goalward. Rendell did fantastically well to once again deny London City an opening goal.
The first half petered out with a lack of real opportunities from either side, but with the early dominance of possession in the opening exchanges, Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side would likely be thankful of a chance to re-group.
A scrappy start to the second half saw Saints once again have to absorb pressure in defensive areas of the pitch, with Megan Collett, Paige Peake and Katie Wilkinson all putting their bodies on the line to deny opportunities for the home side going forward.
Despite the pressure, it took until the 60th minute for the home side to fashion a real chance, as Milly Mott lost her balance cutting out a pass to see London City able to get in behind the lines. They farmed the ball around the back, but Rendell was untroubled by the eventual shot from the edge of the area.
The home side’s eyes lit up in the 63rd minute as they were awarded a free-kick just outside the area for a hand ball.
The subsequent delivery into the box was well defended, and Saints were once again able to clear their lines.
The first change of the game saw Wilkinson, who had received a number of knocks during the game, replaced by Ella Pusey.
Saints looked to fashion their own chances going forward, and Beth Lumsden almost did it all on her own in the 67th minute, as she drove in-field past blue shirt after blue shirt, sending her rising shot just off target.
It was London City’s substitute and current top goalscorer Sarah Ewens that broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, as a free kick in a near identical area to the one Saints had just cleared was turned home.
With the home side taking the lead, some fresh legs in Megan Wynne took to the pitch in the 78th minute.
With it all to gain, Saints pressed higher and higher up the pitch, and the pressure paid off as Pusey raced into the box and was brought down by the London City Lionesses’ keeper, the referee pointing straight to the spot.
It was cool and collected Paige Peake who stepped up to take, making no mistake in hitting the back of the net to secure her first ever competitive Saints goal in the 90th minute.
A tough eight minutes of injury time to come, but in the end, Saints held on to earn a point at the league leaders.