Birmingham City Ladies 2
Linnett (47 mins), Harrop (88 mins)
- Match reports
- 29 June 2014 16:03
- Posted by @roline_mcfc
Manchester City Women's impressive winning streak was brought to an end in Solihull with a 2-0 defeat to league leaders Birmingham City Ladies.
Second-half strikes from Kirsty Linnett and Kerys Harrop were enough for the victory, as the visitors were left to rue a host of missed chances, hitting the woodwork twice before the hosts killed the game with two minutes of normal time remaining.
MCWFC headed into this clash in the knowledge they could leapfrog David Parker's team to the top of the FA Women’s Super League with a win, depending on other results and if only temporarily.
With that in mind and on the back of four successive wins, Nick Cushing made just one change to the side that defeated Everton 2-0 back in May, with Natasha Flint coming in the replace the injured Toni Duggan.
Against a side unbeaten in the division, MCWFC knew they would have to be at their best to have any chance of leaving the Midlands with a win and they started the brighter of the two sides, enjoying long spells of possession and patiently building from the back without creating any clear-cut chances.
As it turned out, it was the home side who fashioned the first real effort on seven minutes, as Hannah Keryakoplis crossed for Linnett. Fortunately for the Mancunian side though, the striker’s control evaded her and the ball bounced wide.
Aside from that attempt, Birmingham’s main threat in the first-half came from set-pieces, as Josanne Potter fired an effort over the bar before a corner caused havoc in the visitors' penalty area on 20 minutes, allowing Harrop to unleash an effort that deflected wide.
As they began to grow in confidence, the home side pressed to break the deadlock and the Midlands outfit should have taken the lead on 33 minutes. Having capitalised on a defensive mistake, Linnett delivered an inch-perfect cross into the unmarked Keryakoplis, who somehow headed over from six yards out.
It was a real warning to Cushing’s side, who were shocked back into life. Towards the end of the half, the visitors regained a foothold in the game and even managed to find the back of the net as Isobel Christiansen’s corner sailed in, only for referee Sian Pettit to rule out the effort for a foul in the box.
Karen Carney then drilled an effort wide of the target for the hosts in what proved to be the final attack of the half and the sides went in level at the break.
Birmingham continued where they left off after the restart and within two minutes, had taken the lead. Linnett – a thorn in the visitors’ side all afternoon – latched on to a loose ball in a dangerous area before rolling the ball past Karen Bardsley and into the far corner.
After the initial panic had died down, the away side responded well and sought an equaliser. Jill Scott was presented with a chance to run at the Birmingham defence on 55 minutes, picking up the ball in the centre. As the midfielder bore down on goal though, she opted to play Krystle Johnston through but the pass was misplaced and the chance was lost.
Jess Holbrook then tried her luck from range before an injury to the referee lead to a long stoppage in play. After the restart, Cushing's side continued to press and were unlucky not to draw level.
Scott skewed a first-time effort wide from Christiansen's lay-off, before Betsy Hassett saw an effort cannon off the crossbar.
Flint then tried her luck with a low effort that bounced back off the post before a Houghton header flew over the bar.
No matter what MCWFC tried, the ball would not go in - and they were made to pay.
The visitors were hit with the killer blow on 88 minutes, as Harrop rose to meet a cross from the right, planting a header towards goal which proved too strong for Bardsley to keep out.
That strike knocked the stuffing out of the Mancunian outfit, who never managed to recover, despite the fact there were twelve minutes of added time left to salvage something from the game.
Houghton attempted to net a last-minute consolation with a free-kick but her effort sailed high over the bar, summing up the visitors’ afternoon.