Sunday 26 March 2017

REPORT: Blues Ladies 1-0 Arsenal

MARISA Ewers scored the only goal of the game as Birmingham City Ladies knocked out holders Arsenal and booked their place in the semi-final of the Women's FA Cup.

Ewers was in the right place to fire home a superb second half strike to earn Mark Skinner a second consecutive victory as manager at the Automated Group Technology Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The home side had the first opportunity of the match when Freda Ayisi released Ellen White but her deflected shot was well held by Sari Van Veenendaal in the Arsenal goal.

Danielle Carter fired wide from 25 yards and Aoife Mannion did defended superbly to block off the attention of Jess Taylor after the England striker had found herself clean through on goal.

Arsenal were looking the more likely of the two teams to find an opening with Taylor proving a handful in attack.

One of the moves of the match came in the 22nd minute when Heather O'Reilly dummied the ball for Carter who had plenty of time and space to pick her spot but Ann-Katrin Berger was quick off her line to make a fine save.

Five minutes later Berger was called into action again when she rushed off her line to clear the ball after Carter was put through again and the two players went toe-to-toe once more with 34 minutes played.

It looked as though Taylor was in an offside position when ball fell to her in front of goal but the linesman's flag stayed down and the England star thought she had scored with a powerful shot but Berger made herself big to keep the scoreline level.

Ayisi had a rare shot for the home side which was blocked while at the other end Berger had to make a smart stop to deny O'Reilly as both sides went in level at the break.

Blues picked up their performance in the second half and limited Arsenal to very few chances while also creating a few of their own.

On hour mark O'Reilly delivered a cross from the right towards Taylor but her header went high over the bar.

A big opportunity for the Blues came and went in the 63rd minute when Williams delivered a dangerous cross into the box which was flicked across goal by Harrop to White but her header was saved under bar.

Arsenal full-back Leah Williamson tested Berger from long range before on 72 minutes Katie McCabe cut inside from the left before sending a right-footed shot narrowly wide of the target.

Just minutes later Jordan Nobbs should have put the visitors in front when the ball fell nicely full her just inside the area but her volley drifted wide of goal to the relief of the home support.

It proved to be a big moment in the match as Blues scored what proved to be the winning goal 13 minutes from time.

Substitute Ellie Brazil did well to get to the byline and she had the skill to cut the ball back for the waiting Ewers who struck a first time shot high into the top right-hand corner of the net.

Arsenal pressed for an equaliser in the closing stages but it was the hosts who should have scored again when White found herself clean through but after lifting the ball over Sari Van Veenendaal, her effort dropped over the bar and it remained 1-0 at the final whistle.

Attendance: 514

Team: Berger, Sargeant, Mannion, Harrop (c), Williams, Mayling, Carter, Ewers, Stringer (Westwood 85), Ayisi (Brazil 65), White

Subs not used – Baggaley, Hegerberg, Peplow