Manchester City Women 1 – 1 Birmingham City Ladies
57′ Bronze 13′ Westwood
Manchester City needed a Lucy Bronze equaliser to help see them and their opponents Birmingham City ending honours even in as they sides meet in ten days time in the Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley on 13th May. Once again it needed Manchester City’s England International Lucy Bronze to come to their rescue and pick up a point in the 1-1 draw with Birmingham City Ladies in the opening WSL Spring Series contest for the Sky Blues.
The home side saw boss Nick Cushing giving a start to England’s under-17 goalie Ellie Roebuck and also hand a start to Dutch midfielder Tessel Middag, as it was a very much different looking line up to the previous ones that have started in recent games and was giving some playing time too.
City could easily have been in front after just seventeen seconds gone on the clock, after Carli Lloyd latched onto a poorly hit back pass by Aoife Mannion towards her keeper and saw the American pushing the ball passed Ann-Katrin Berger in the Birmingham goal and then putting her effort into the side netting.
That chance was really as good as it got for the home side in the opening forty-five minutes of the play, with the home side struggling to put passes together and were very disjointed in their attacks and lacking cohesion as well, which stifled anything in the way of attacks in the first period.
Birmingham then took a surprised lead on 13 minutes into the game, after Emily Westwood guided her header past Roebuck in the Manchester City goal from a Coral-Jade Haines corner kick and that put the Midlands side one up with their first effort on goal.
After going a goal down, it saw the home side recovering well without having really caused the Birmingham defence to press the panic buttons. The home side really lacked any attacking threat going forward and saw most of their attacks undone by themselves, with poor passing and a lack of cutting edge to their play.
A very unexcitable first half drew to a close thankfully, with the away side still leading by a solitary goal to nil and had neither side really looking like scoring from open play and if anything, it had Birmingham looking more likely to score again when they had a corner kick.
With the second half getting underway, it saw the home side looking to get back into the contest and they did on 57 minutes, as Birmingham’s nemesis last season in the Continental Cup Final in Lucy Bronze levelled the contest at one all.
It saw the England defender and recently named PFA Women’s Player of the Year making a run into the Birmingham penalty box and then firing the ball into the far corner to make it 1-1.
Nick Cushing then made all his subs in the space of seven minutes apart, with firstly Georgia Stanway being replaced by Jane Ross immediately from the restart and then Kosovare Asllani and Jennifer Beattie being subbed on 65 minutes, for Jill Scott and returning to the squad after a long lay off in Irish International Megan Campbell.
As previously stated at the start, these two teams will contest the Women’s FA Cup Final a week on Saturday at Wembley Stadium with neither side giving ground or showing how they may play in the Cup Final.
Credit to Birmingham though, they did what a lot of other sides have been unable to, or just refused to do all and was to attack the home side and by doing so made it an interesting and entertaining too.
The home side grew into the contest and was putting their opponents under some severe pressure as the game ticked down inside the last ten minutes of the contest. Jane Ross firstly saw her effort from a tight angle being stopped by the keeper and somehow saw a loose rebounded scrambled away, with Lloyd nearly netting.
City’s best chance then fell two minutes from time from Carli Lloyd again, as this time the midfielder had the ball come nicely to her and her blast struck Berger in the chest and away from danger, when it really should have been buried by the Star player.
Overall a draw was probably the fairest result for both sides, with arguably the home side edging play in the second half, but with the Cup final in a couple weeks times it saw both teams relatively play with their performances.
Nick Cushing’s side play two away games before they meet Birmingham again at Wembley, with Reading away on Sunday and then followed by Bristol City Women on the Tuesday night.