Monday, 12 March 2012

FA Cup - Birmingham Ladies v Liverpool Ladies

Birmingham City Ladies progressed to the Quarter Finals of the FA Women's Cup after a comprehensive 3-0 victory at home to Liverpool. Goals from Jodie Taylor, Izzy Christiansen and Maz Ballard secured the win and the perfect start to what promises to be an exciting season for The Blues. 

The home side were out of the traps early, passing the ball around quickly and trying to use the flanks for the runs of Taylor and new signing Aluko, and midfield dynamo Jade Moore had the first attempt of the match, shooting over on 2 minutes. Liverpool's first corner on 12 minutes came to nothing, but a minute later, Carney's first corner was cleared, but only straight back to the England winger, who sent in a dangerous cross which was headed wide by debutant left back Rachel Unitt. 

Katie Brussell looked lively for the visitors, testing Hourihan in the home goal on 20 mins, but Birmingham always looked more threatening, with Carney, Christiansen, Taylor and Aluko all linking very well considering the lack of playing time together. The pressure finally paid on 26 minutes, when Unitt's inviting cross was smartly finished by Jodie Taylor. Barely a minute later, Eni Aluko had her first real chance of the afternoon, racing through one-on-one with Liverpool's debut 'keeper Aroon Clansey, but was tharted by a good save. Captain Laura Bassett was next to venture forward, threading a fine through ball to England striker Aluko, but the Liverpool defence got back just in time to sniff out the danger. Taylor almost doubled the lead and her tally before the break after being put through by Carney, but Clansey was on hand to make a smart save.
Half Time: Birmingham City Ladies 1-0 Liverpool Ladies
The second half started as the first finished, with Birmingham on top and in full control of the game, with a lot of possession and another early chance for Aluko, but who was again denied by the strong Clansey in the Liverpool goal. Michelle Evans nearly brought Liverpool back into it with a curling left footed free kick, but this was saved low down by Hourihan. New Zealand international Clansey was having a busy afternoon, and was needed to deny the unfortunate Aluko once again just before the hour mark, but Blues' second goal was one to treasure, and there was nothing Clansey could do to prevent it. A long ball over the top was chased down by Taylor and Aluko, but Clansey rushed off her line to clear with her head, but only found Christiansen, whose first time volley from roughly 35 yards looped back over the goalkeeper's head and bounced into the unguarded net, a sublime finish to cap a brilliant performance by the youngster. 

Goal Scorer Izzy Christiansen 
Chances kept coming for the attack minded hosts, with Unitt heading Bassett's cross wide and Taylor forcing yet another save from the industrious Clansey. Liverpool made all three changes at once on 67 minutes, in the hope of rescuing something from the game. The fresher legs did provide the visitors with a little more impetous and drive, and enabled them to have a little more possession than they had been allowed previously, but still there was a lack of cutting edge and the superb duo of Jo Potter and Jade Moore in central midfield stifled any attacks as much as possible. Blues centre back Emily Westwood, always a threat from set pieces, rose highest to meet a Potter corner but headed wide on 79 minutes, and on 88 Birmingham made two changes, Carney and Aluko came off to warm applause for their efforts from the home crowd, with Ballard and debutant Torkildsen replacing the England duo, and it didnt take long for them to get into the action, as on the 90 minute mark, Torkildsen's ball caused problems for the defence, and Ballard challenged with Clansey, this time coming off the better, and after knocking the ball past the stranded keeper, poked home the third goal and the clincher from close range.

Maz Ballard wraps up the game for the blues
There was just time for a final blues substitution, with Harley Simpson coming on for her first appearance, replacing the hard working Jodie Taylor, until the final whistle blew and Birmingham marched on to the quarter finals of the FA Womens Cup.

For photos of this game please visit: 
Full Time: Birmingham City Ladies 3-0 Liverpool Ladies
Birmingham (4-4-2): Hourihan, Weston, Bassett, Westwood, Unitt, Carney (Torkildsen 88), Moore, Potter, Christiansen, Aluko (Ballard 88), Taylor (Simpson 90)

Goals: Taylor (26) Christiansen (57) Ballard (90)
Liverpool (4-4-2): Clansey, Chappell, V Jones, Harding, Thowig, Shepherd (S Jones 67), Brussell, Foster (Lea 67), Littlejohn, Evans (C Jones 67), K Jones

Player of the match: Izzy Christiansen

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