Manchester City Women 1-1 Birmingham City Ladies
Taken from Man City.com
The curtain came down on the Women’s Super League for Manchester City Women this past Sunday, as the side remained unbeaten and became ‘the Invincibles’ by going the whole season without a single defeat as they finished with a 1-1 draw against Birmingham City Ladies. It was only a few weeks ago that two teams met in this year’s Continental Cup Final at the Academy Stadium at start of October, with the home side coming out on top 1-0 thanks to a Lucy Bronze header in Extra Timer proving to be the winner.
It saw the club trying to create a party atmosphere ahead of their final WSL match of the 2016 season against Birmingham, with the title-presentation taking place after the game was over. Many may have thought that this game was a dead rubber and one that the home side would easily wrap up. However much like some big parties you get now and then, it saw Birmingham Ladies becoming the party poopers of the piece and wasn’t in the party mood. When the sides met in the cup final less than a month ago, it saw the West Midlands club coming out hard and not giving their hosts any easy way in ot to the game.
City had the first chance in the game afterward Jill Scott prodded a shot on goal but was collected by Berger in the Birmingham goals. Minutes later and the visitors were then awarded a penalty in the 5th minute of the game, after Lucy Bronze was adjudged to have fouled Andrine Hegerberg in the penalty box and it had looked like the England defender had pulled out of the challenge. Aofie Mannion was given the duties of taking the penalty for Birmingham City Women and after going early with her first effort before the whistle, it saw her initial penalty beating the England keeper all ends up and she repeated the feat a second sending the City keeper the wrong way.
The home fans were stunned by their sides going behind so early in the game and was only the fourth goal conceded by City this season in the WSL. City found it really difficult to get their creative spark going at first as their play was very sloppy and looked anything but a team that was undefeated all year. Chances were far and between for the hosts, as Birmingham shown their defensive capabilities once more and made it difficult for the home side throughout. Demi Stokes went close for the home side after she battled her way into the Birmingham penalty area and saw her effort stopped by Berger once again, with the former PSG keeper having another good game for the visitors. City created a clump of chances then soon after, as Kosovare Asllani saw her linking up with Jane Ross and had the Swede bringing another good stop by the keeper. Toni Duggan was the City next player to try her luck from range, with the England International shooting from outside the box and narrowly missing the target and had it gone it would most certainly have been candidate for Goal of the Season.
It was a very frustrating game for the home fans to watch, as with the Citizens trailing still to that early goal by Birmingham, they did seem to be shell-shocked for a certain amount of time and took them a while to get back to their normal play. Sloppy play seemed to be a common theme in the City team during the first half of the game, as balls were squirming under foot and passes were being played to invisible man at times. The hosts quite clearly wanted to finished their season on high note and try to have their undefeated record intact. Lucy Bronze who was the match-winner against her opponents in the Continental Cup at the start of the month, Bronze then saw her firing a fierce volley on target and needed Berger to be very alert to the shot.
City over the course of the season always seemed to find a way to breakdown their opponents and score when it mattered, so after 54 minutes gone in the game it saw a huge stroke of luck for the home side when Demi Stoke put in a deep cross saw the ball dropping in for a goal to level the game up at 1-1. The cross come-shot then gave the home side the incentive to push on for a winning goal and saw the energy levels in the home side doubled and see City on the up now. Jill Scott saw her shot just missing the target and then moments later the Birmingham goalkeeper was on hand to deny Steph Houghton’s free kick mid-way through the half.
The hosts pushed for a winning goal and none seemed to be forthcoming for the Manchester side, while their opponents were very content on just trying to soak up pressure and take a point out of the game. Jennifer Beattie saw her shot on goal turned aside by the Berger once more and then from the resulting corner saw Jill Scott having a goal chalked off for an apparent foul on the keeper in the process. City brought on Nikita Parris for the final twenty-minutes or so and had the former Everton striker almost celebrating a goal minutes from coming on. Sadly for her, Berger pulled out one more save from her locker as she got the slightest of fingertips to the ball to deny Parris giving City the lead as it ball bounced back off the crossbar. Despite all the best efforts that the newly-crowned Champions could throw at their opponents, it saw the game finished in a stalemate and had Nick Cushing side finishing the season unbeaten and becoming the female ‘Invincibles’.
With the domestic season now done and dusted now for the year, it gives the Blues time to recover and look forward to the visit of Danish side Brondby IF to the Academy Stadium next Wednesday Night in the Women’s Champions League. The match will see the Blues being tested far more this time around than that of their last opponents from Russia, as the Russian side struggled to register a shot hardly in almost 180 minutes of play.