Northampton Town Women lost 1-0 at home to Loughborough Lightning in the FA Women’s National League Division One Midlands on Sunday afternoon.
The Cobblers put in a valiant performance against their top-of-the-table opponents, whose winner came from the penalty spot.
Joint-managers Josh Oldfield and Liam Williams made one change to the side that began the New Year with a loss away to Leek Town last week, as Ruby Heselden replaced Paige Ridley in the starting line up.
Both sides had early chances blocked, Vicky Barrett making an interception at one end before Alex Dicks’ effort from Jade Bell’s square pass was snuffed-out by a defender.
Jade Arber smashed into the side-netting from a tight angle and fired a low shot across the face of goal as the Loughborough striker had two great chances to open the scoring midway through the first half.
The Cobblers created their best opportunity shortly before half-time, Fay Noble firing narrowly over after Bell’s low cross was touched away from Alex Dicks by a defender.
Ella-Mai Coutts and Lauren Purchase both sent speculative long-range efforts wide in the opening 10 minutes of the second period, whilst Kim Farrow had a similar chance at the other end on the hour mark.
Loughborough substitute Molly Sutherland’s 30-yard free-kick was heading for the top corner before Katie McLean pushed the ball past the post a few minutes later.
The visitors were controversially awarded a penalty soon after, and another sub, Zynia Delglyn, placed the spot-kick into the top right corner.
The Cobblers came closest to equalising in an end-to-end second half heading into the final quarter-of-an-hour, when sub Laila Channell’s cross dropped to Noble, who was denied by ‘keeper Alicia Grimmond from close range.
Oldfield and Williams’ side host Northamptonshire Women’s & Girls Football League Premier Division side Brackley Town in the Northamptonshire FA Women’s Cup quarter-finals next week.
Cobblers: Katie McLean, Zoe Boote, Vicky Barrett, TJ Warren, Ruby Heselden, Jess Evans, Mia Richards, Fay Noble, Kim Farrow, Alex Dicks, Jade Bell
Substitutes: Holly Mayfield, Laila Channell, Bianca Luttman, Paris Mallon, Ona Ndefo