Olli Meek reflects on the FA Cup third round fixtures, with Arsenal crashing out to add to Arsene Wenger's woes.Written by Olli Meek on 13th January 2018
Birmingham Hold On to Banish Home Curse
The Birmingham women’s football first team collected their first home victory of the season, defeating Northumbria University 3-2 on a cold Wednesday evening at the Munrow Track Pitch...
[scoreline teamone="Birmingham 1sts" teamtwo="Northumbria 1sts" teamonescore="3" teamtwoscore="2" width="400" title="Women's football"][/scoreline] The Birmingham women’s football first team collected their first home victory of the season, defeating Northumbria University 3-2 on a cold Wednesday evening at the Munrow Track Pitch.
Brum came into the match on the back of two highly convincing away wins and sat second in the table. They were in the ascendancy from the start and quickly created chances, the best of which falling to Emma Follis, who, having rounded the keeper, couldn’t finish from a tight angle about eight yards out from goal.
The hosts didn’t have to wait long for the opener though, Issy Christiansen this time putting Follis through one-on-one, allowing the winger to calmly slot the ball under the onrushing Sophie Bendelow in the Northumbria goal. Brum were clearly high in confidence and came pouring forward again, with Christiansen firing a fierce drive against the visitors’ crossbar just moments later. The lead was deservedly doubled just after the half hour mark when Northumbria defender Laura Venison headed into her own net from a free-kick, an effort which Bendelow probably should have done better with.
The second goal seemed to spark the northern opposition into life, and thanks to the presence of Kamine Sword up front, they forced the home keeper Amy Edwards into two good saves a short time later. The one time Edwards was beaten, the woodwork came to Birmingham’s rescue, as Becky Salicki’s free-kick came back off the post. Seconds before the break, the away team halved the deficit - Sword smashing home from close range after the home side failed to clear a corner. It was the first goal the Birmingham defence had conceded since the last home game against Loughborough- almost 280 minutes before.
The second half was a much tighter affair, with both teams creating chances. The best of these fell to Sword, but she could only shoot wide after creating space for herself 20 yards out. Christiansen was again influential as Birmingham went forward, and it was the midfielder herself who had the best chance to extend the lead, flashing a shot across goal having rounded Bendelow just before the hour. She didn’t have to wait much longer to finally get on score sheet though, firing in the hosts third goal a few minutes later- again seeming to catch Bendelow unawares with a strike into the bottom corner from outside the penalty area. With the pressure off the home side began to dominate possession, with every neat trick and touch cheered by the home bench. Follis, and substitute Francesca Boggi both had chance to kill the game off, but were thwarted by Bendelow on each occasion.
These misses were punished by the visitors, as they set up a nervy last ten minutes when Edwards could only parry Sword’s shot into the path of Janice Willis, whose goal gave last year’s BUCS champions a glimmer of hope. It was not to be though as Birmingham saw out the rest of the game comfortably to maintain the pressure on Loughborough at the top of the table.
Coach Jenny Sugarman was naturally delighted with the result and singled out Christiansen’s performance. ‘We switched her to a more central role and I thought she was fantastic throughout’, she remarked afterwards.A win against Leeds Met next week would set Birmingham up perfectly for a potential title-decider against Loughborough in January. In this kind of form, you wouldn’t want to bet against them.