Friday, 24 May 2013

Continental Cup dream over after draw

Blues’ Continental Cup dream is over for this season following their second successive 1-1 draw at home to Lincoln Ladies. An early Rachel Williams goal gave the home side hope of reaching their third semi final appearance in three years, but Lincoln striker Carla Cantrell equalised before half time, following up after Remi Allen’s penalty was superbly saved by Mary Earps. With Arsenal beating Bristol Academy in the other group game, Blues knew only a win would be good enough to reach the latter stages of a competition which has been kind to them the previous two years, and while they pressed hard for that all important goal, Lincoln stood firm, particularly England duo Karen Bardsley and Sophie Bradley, the former of the two making a number of good saves, notably from Chelsea Weston’s free kick with only minutes left. Blues’ young side certainly were not lacking in effort, but the more experienced Lady Imps held on for the point that sent them through at the hosts’ expense. The semi final line up for the competition is as follows:

Arsenal v Everton
Liverpool v Lincoln
One side note to the game was an injury to Blues and England’s Rachel Unitt. The left back went down unchallenged in the first half and, despite attempting to carry on, was forced off with a knee problem. It has now transpired that, sadly for Rachel, it is a serious ACL injury, similar to that suffered by fellow England full back Claire Rafferty, and both stars will miss the rest of the season, including this summer’s European Championships.
Despite another disappointing draw, there was a shining light in the form of Jo Potter. With the defensive restructure, Potter found herself in an unfamiliar role supporting the lone striker, and she blossomed in this position. She made her mark on the game after only three minutes, picking the ball up in between Lincoln’s lines of defence and midfield and sliding through an inch perfect pass for Williams to slot past Bardsley. Potter was continuously the major threat to Lincoln’s backline, whether it was her strength and determination driving her side forward, or her pin point set piece delivery which caused numerous problems for the visitors. She showed a side to her game that is not always evident in her normal position of central midfield, where alongside Jade Moore we see a more combative persona, whereas in this role she adopted against Lincoln she displayed plenty of skill and her ability shone through. Hopefully she will be given similar roles throughout the season, and she can display more attacking qualities.
In other women’s football news, Wolfsburg are the new UEFA Women’s Champions League winners, following a 1-0 victory over strong favourites Lyon at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. A late contentious Martina Muller penalty gave the German side their first ever Champions League success, and completed an incredible treble this season after they won their first ever German League and Cup double earlier this season.
Blues’ next game is at home to Chelsea Ladies in an FAWSL fixture on Tuesday 28th May, a 7:45pm kick off.
Blues: Earps, Weston, Westwood, Harrop, Unitt (George 23), Christiansen (Wilkinson 65), Bassett (c), Moore, Lawley (Linnett 46), Potter, Williams. Subs not used: Hourihan, Torkildsen, Simpkins, Haines.

Lincoln: Bardsley, Turner, Bradley, Stoney (c) (Horwood 55), Walton, Clarke, Martha Harris, Allen, Roberts (Harris 69), Hamilton (Sergeant 86), Cantrell. Subs not used: Kay, Cresswell.
Player of the Match: Jo Potter

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