Natasha Flint’s double fired Leicester City to their 11th consecutive FA Women’s Championship victory and a step closer to promotion with a 2-0 win over Coventry United at Farley Way.
The Foxes now hold a five-point lead at the summit of the table - with a game in hand - as strugglers Coventry were unable to move clear of bottom-place London Bees.
Jonathan Morgan's title-chasers didn’t have it all their own way in the first half as Coventry battled hard, though Flint gave them an early warning after spurning a pair of gilt-edged chances.
She first forced Sue Wood into a smart save before heading over when unmarked from just six yards out.
Leicester continued to pile on the pressure and moments after Sophie Howard had hit a piledriver against the post, the deadlock was broken on the stroke of half-time.
A quick corner was played back to Flint on the edge of the box, who emphatically fired home to give the hosts a 1-0 lead heading into the break.
The Foxes continued to press for a second and went close on the hour mark when Ashleigh Plumptre smashed a 20-yard effort against the post.
But moments later that crucial goal came as Flint was played through on goal and made no mistake, firing past Wood from the edge of the area.
Chasing her hat-trick, Flint’s well-hit free-kick was saved well by Wood before substitutes Libby Smith, Millie Farrow and Freya Thomas all went close with their own chances.
But Leicester had to settle for a 2-0 win to edge themselves ever-closer to a place in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League – and leave Coventry still needing vital points to ensure their own safety
It was Flint's first strike on the stroke of half-time that broke the deadlock in Loughborough, with the Foxes ace firing low into the corner after receiving possession on the edge of the box.
WHAT THEY SAID
Leicester boss Jonathan Morgan: “I’m really proud - I believe that 11 wins in a row is a Championship record and no other team has done that before. I think the girls really deserve the plaudits for that - they’ve worked really hard over the last few weeks.
“Today was always going to be a difficult game and we knew Coventry were going to come out fighting as they did, but to get the 11th win and to go within one win of winning the league is a fantastic feeling. We’re focused now on London City next week.
“I know Jay very well and I knew she’d set them up very well and knew they would come here to be stubborn and difficult. Must give credit to our girls - they were patient. I thought we were a little bit wasteful in the first half, I think we had 25 opportunities but it was a very competitive game and glad that we came out with a victory.”
Coventry boss Jay Bradford: “I thought we played well and I think we’ve been undone, the first one by a set-piece which is a little bit disappointing. But you’re up against a full-time team who have the time to practise those things.
"And then the second goal is just a bit of a lapse in concentration on our part, but I can almost forgive them because of how hard we worked, when previously we’ve given teams those moments and not worked as hard.
“I’m super confident we will stay up - we’re not even talking about that relegation spot, because when we’ve got performances like that in our locker, I think we will be fine. Our keeper was not pulling out saves - a lot of their chances were flying over but I thought we were solid defensively. We’re fully focused on moving forward as a club and making sure we are putting our best foot forward."
Leicester City (4-4-2): Kirstie Levell; Sophie Howard, Sam Tierney, Grace Riglar, Esmee de Graaf; Lachante Paul, Sophie Barker, Ashleigh Plumptre, Hannah Cain; Natasha Flint, Shannon O’Brien
Substitutes: Freya Thomas for Farrow 70', Millie Farrow for Howard 70', Libby Smith for O’Brien 70', Lia Cataldo for Flint 74', Jess Camwell for Cain 83'
Substitutes not used: Sophie Harris, Aimee Everett, Charlotte Fleming, Olivia Fergusson
Goals: Flint 45', 60'
Coventry United (4-4-2): Sue Wood; Ashlee Brown, Becky Anderson, Nikki Miles, Anna Wilcox; Helen Dermody, Fran Orthodoxou, Katy Morris, Destiney Toussaint; Keeley Davies, Amber Hughes
Substitutes: Phoebe Warner for Dermody 31', Beth Merrick for Hughes 50', Georgia Stevens for Davies 69'
Substitutes not used: Hollie Chandler, Liv Clark, Hayley Crackle, Alice Hassall, Jenna Roberts, Alanah Mann
Bookings: Orthodoxou 19', Toussaint 72'
Referee: Lucy Oliver