Sport Editor Lucy Blitz reports from St. Andrews as Birmingham City Women triumph over London City Lionesses in the Championship
Birmingham City women recorded a seventh consecutive league win on Sunday afternoon thanks to Cho So Hyun’s early 25-yard strike, subjecting London City Lionesses to more Championship misery in a 1-0 defeat. More than 1,500 fans arrived at St. Andrew’s for the afternoon kick-off, in which the South Korean’s 7th-minute strike was the sole difference between the Blues and the Lionesses.
In a flourishing start for the hosts, London City had difficulty maintaining possession while So Hyun continued to trouble on the wings in search of a second for Darren Carter’s side. The Lionesses’ first signs of promise were shown after Tinaya Alexander put her skills on display to weave around the Blues’ defence, only for a strike against keeper Lucy Thomas to meet the crossbar in a frustrating moment.
Searching for an equaliser, visitors London City relied on defender Emma Mukandi to build from the back, but her long-range passing was often met with little reward as manager Carolina Morace became visibly irritated on the touchline.
Birmingham were offered the chance to double their lead on the cusp of halftime through chances for Lily Agg and Ellie Mason, but both were left scratching their heads after Agg met the post and Mason was contained by Lionesses keeper Hermione Cull. Beyond the break, Carter was forced to turn to the Blues’ bench due to a knock for Agg, who made way for Ivana Fuso.
Brazilian Fuso proved crucial in Birmingham’s hunt for a second, with the forward expertly threading passes to Claudia Walker and Choe Yu-Ri to keep the search underway.
Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah looked to be London City’s best chance at an equaliser, after two second-half goals against Crystal Palace mid-week saw the Lionesses advance to the Continental Cup quarter-finals for the first time in the club’s history.
Yet the winger had trouble linking up with her team as shots were contained by Thomas to leave Birmingham firmly in the driver’s seat and on track for yet another Championship victory.
Megan Wilson’s full-time whistle left Carter’s Blues in 4th place, three points behind table leaders Charlton Athletic after their 0-1 victory against Crystal Palace.
Meanwhile, London City have not recorded a Championship victory since their 0-3 win against Blackburn Rovers last November, as the Lionesses sink to 10th spot with just three points separating them and Watford at the bottom of the table.
Speaking to BluesTV after the game, manager Carter expressed his delight at the home victory while praising Sunday’s opponents and their style of play.
“I think it’s a big win, and against a difficult opponent who I thought came with a real clear structure and were really solid in their shape, and asked us a lot of questions in how to break that down. “I thought first-half, we had some really good moments and showed real quality with the ball.
“They’re [London City] a difficult opponent, they’ve got some very good players, experienced, so to get the win in the end, albeit a tight 1-0, we’ll definitely take it.” Birmingham travel south to face Watford in a week’s time, while London City will head to Durham in search of their first league victory of the new year.
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