It was a night to forget for Leicester City as they were thumped 11-1 in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup against a free-flowing Manchester United side.
The result now means that Leicester City can no longer mathematically qualify for the knockout stages but manager Jonathan Morgan wasn’t naive about the mountainous task his side faced coming into the group.
“We’d been put in the group of death really for an FA Women’s Championship team to come up against Man City, Man United, Everton, and Birmingham” Morgan told FA Women’s Super League Full-Time. No one would have fancied that from our point of view.”
As if being the only semi-professional side in the group wasn’t hard enough, Morgan’s young team must also juggle other commitments outside of football which, on a night like last night, throws up it’s own issues.
“It’s very hard coming here on a midweek game,” he acknowledged. “Almost all of our girls are still at school, doing A-Levels, college courses, and then to come here straight afterwards is difficult.”
Morgan’s focus remains on the bigger picture rather than one off games. He added “People know what we’re doing here, we’re looking to build over two to three years.
“We’ve brought in a lot of good youngsters, eight of our starting XI were 18 (years-old) or below, four of them being 16.
“That is not normal at this level but that shows you what we want to do and how we want to do it.
“A lot of these girls were playing for top development teams last year and they were just used to winning and doing what they want.”
When asked what kind of benefit coming up against far more senior, full-time players could have on his fledgling side, the Leicester City manager had this to say, “I think from a positive point of view it is a great learning curve for them.
“I said to the girls before the game ‘today will be a crash course in experience’ and I don’t think they’ll learn any more on the training ground than they did tonight.
“The tempo and the intensity that they are playing at, we have to up our game just to stay within the vicinity of their players during the game.
“These games have helped us become much more defensively compact, focus on our defensive responsibilities and our defensive transitions better. So this competition has allowed them to understand the importance of the opposite side of the game.”
Although Morgan recognises that the evening was far from ideal, he still emphasises the importance of finding a silver lining amongst what was an inexorable tempest of clouds.
He said “Obviously it was just the one goal and it was 5-1 but we still cheered and celebrated really loudly because for us it’s a small win and we’ve got to take the positives when they come.”
Morgan also took time post-match to reflect on the achievement of his team to penetrate through a United defence that has been impregnable at times in the last 18 months.
“That’s two years on the bounce now we’ve been able to get a goal against them and Libby Smith got them both times, so we might have something there to break them down but just not consistently enough from our point of view” Morgan analysed.
“To get a goal here was brilliant and it was nice for the girls to have something to go home with.”
Up next for Leicester City is a Midlands derby in the league against newly-promoted Coventry United. The Warwickshire side sit bottom of the FA Women’s Championship and with Leicester City unbeaten in their last two league games The Vixens will see this as ample opportunity to gather some momentum in the lead up to Christmas.