BLUES LADIES 1 ARSENAL LADIES 1

Photo by Ville Vuorinen

Sunday 7 October 2012

Solihull Moors FC

WL match

BLUES LADIES 1 ARSENAL LADIES 1

Blues Ladies finished their FA Womenís Super League campaign in second place, and in the process booked a UEFA Womenís Champions League spot in next seasonís competition.

The encounter in Stratford with Arsenal Ladies acted as a dress rehearsal for Wednesday night's Continental Cup final at Barnet FC (kick-off 7pm), but neither side could gain a psychological advantage in an evenly matched contest.

Birmingham struck the first blow thanks to Emily Simpkins, then Laura Harvey's outfit rounded off the scoring early in the second-half via Ellen White.

There was some neat football on display from the top two sides in the country during the opening period, with both teams enjoying chances.

Eni Aluko appeared favourite when one-on-one with Gunners 'keeper Emma Byrne, but the England international couldn't edge Blues ahead due to an on-rushing Byrne.

The lively Aluko went close again on 19 minutes, shooting inches wide of Byrne's near post after some intricate build-up play.

The WSL Champions remained a threat, however, as moments later Jennifer Beattie almost picked out the far corner from Alex Scott's through ball.

But on 33 minutes the hosts grabbed a deserved lead through Simpkins.

Izzy Christiansen played in Simpkins - who was in plenty of space - and the youngster coolly slotted the ball underneath Byrne from eight-yards out.

But Arsenal struck back shortly after the break, when White smashed the ball past Rebecca Spencer into the bottom corner.

The pace slowed down as the half wore on but the chances kept arriving.

Kim Little tested Spencer from distance but the Blues stopper ensured she was well behind the Scot's effort.

Marie Ballard was presented with a golden opportunity on 65 minutes. Unfortunately the forward fired way over with no one around her in the box.

The visitors appeared set to move 2-1 ahead late on - only for Cristina Torkildsen to make an excellently timed last-ditch challenge, with White bearing down on goal.

And two minutes from time Spencer dived low to her right and pulled off a great save to deny Scott.

Ladies manager David Parker said of the draw: "The way we played today, everyone says we're a long ball team, we're very direct, but I think today we've passed Arsenal off the park in stages, especially in the first-half.

"Full credit to the girls, who played without a striker in the first-half. We've just played and I think it goes to show we have a bit of everything at this club."

Blues: Rebecca Spencer, Kerys Harrop, Emily Westwood (Cristina Torkildsen 50), Laura Bassett (C), Rachel Unitt, Karen Carney, Jade Moore (Hannah George 55), Jo Potter, Emily Simpkins, Izzy Christiansen, Eni Aluko (Marie Ballard 48).

Subs not used: Marie Hourihan, Chelsea Weston, Anna Wilcox, Rachel Williams.

Goals: Simpkins (33)

Bookings: None

Arsenal (in numerical order): Emma Byrne, Steph Houghton, Yvonne Tracy, Ciara Grant, Ellen White, Jennifer Beattie (Gemma Davison 72), Danielle Carter, Katie Chapman, Niamh Fahey (Gilly Flaherty 66), Alex Scott, Kelly Smith (Kim Little 56).

Subs not used (in numerical order): Jayne Ludlow, Rachel Yankey, Bianca Bragg, Sophie Harris.

Goals: White (48)

Bookings: None

Player-of-the-match: Izzy Christiansen

Referee: Sian Massey

Attendance: 715

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