Birmingham Ladies got their first win of the 2012 FAWSL season on Sunday with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers Belles at the DCS Stadium. The goals were spread across the team, with Rachel Williams, Kerys Harrop, Jo Potter and substitute Eni Aluko each getting on the scoresheet against the Yorkshire outfit.
Patience was the key for the Blues against a team which had lost their previous game of the season, and despite an even start, the first goal breathed new life into the hosts. Once Chelsea Weston's superb right wing cross was carefully controlled by England striker Williams and slotted home neatly, Birmingham's confidence rose and, in turn, Doncaster's faded, and just four minutes after the opener Williams turned provider, keeping the ball in a tight space inside the box before nudging the ball across goal into the path of the unmarked Harrop to double her side's lead. The hosts continued to threaten the Belles' backline, in between sporadic Donny forrays forward, and four minutes before half time it was 3-0, a develish Karen Carney corner was whipped in and headed home by midfield dynamo Jo Potter, who grabbed her first goal of the season.
Both sides made changes at half time, Eni Aluko replacing Jade Moore, who went off with a knock to her knee, and Rovers' Lillie Bilson replaced by Millie Bright, much to the winger's disgust. The second half was certainly less dramatic goal wise than the first, with the visitors determined not to be embarrassed, and the hosts playing with no pressure and with lots of freedom to express themselves, and happy to maintain possession. Aluko looked very sharp when she came on, running into channels and causing the visitor's defence plenty of problems, and her efforts were rewarded on 70 minutes when she latched onto a through ball, and one on one with Mary Earps, confidently rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into the empty net. She could have had more, with a header hitting the cross bar, and there were plenty of half chances that went by which could have improved the goal difference, what with Arsenal looking as strong as ever so far in the league.
After two away draws at Lincoln and Everton, the nature of the comfortable win will have pleased boss David Parker, especially with a consistent run of games coming up for his team, including the eagerly anticipated FA Womens Cup final against Chelsea on May 26th, and the return to goalscoring form of the side was a positive sign.
Once again the quality of crosses and passing caused all the problems for the Belles side, Carney and Potter supplying dangerous free kicks and corners, and full backs Weston and Unitt supporting the wide players, expanding the pitch as much as possible, pulling the visitors wide and creating space for the likes of Potter, Williams and Carney to create opportunities for the FA Cup finalists. Potter was superb in the centre, twisting and turning her way into space on numerous occasions, never rushed in possession and often creating goalscoring chances for her team mates.
Blues are in Continental Cup action away at Bristol Academy next weekend, and after this win they will go into the game full of confidence, and hopefully this will continue onto their second trip to Bristol in May, as they search for their very first FA Womens Cup.
Player of the match: Jo Potter
Blues: Spencer, Weston, Bassett (c), Westwood, Unitt, Christiansen, Moore (Aluko 46), Potter, Harrop, Williams (Torkildsen 73), Carney (Ballard 59)
Subs not used: Hourihan
Doncaster: Earps, Cunningham, Little, Sigsworth, Holtham, O'Gorman (Russell 82), Lipka, Oxtoby, Bilson (Bright 46), Chadwick (Sowerby 62), England
Subs not used: Lagonia, Hills