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Women's Football News
Birmingham City 2 (Westwood 6, Williams 65)
Everton 3 (Dowie 55,pen 63, Kane 84)
Natasha Dowie bagged a double as Everton blew the FA WSL title race open by overturning a half time deficit to inflict a first defeat of the season on leaders Birmingham City.
Birmingham went into the match looking to extend their advantage to eight points and they started brightly, carrying the game to their opponents. They were rewarded on six minutes as Jo Potter swung in a corner from the right for Emily Westwood to power a header into the back of the net for a goal against her old club.
Everton were dealt a further blow five minutes later as Rachel Unitt left the field with a knee injury and Lucy Bronze replaced her at left back. Birmingham were seeking a second quick strike and it took a good block from Lindsay Johnson to keep out a shot from Rachel Williams, whilst another Potter corner caused problems with Williams' header back across goal being cleared off the line by Amy Kane.
Everton's first meaningful attempt on goal came just after the half hour, a shot from Natasha Dowie which was charged down by Potter, but at the other end Birmingham threatened again as a Potter free kick bounced awkwardly in front of Rachel Brown who failed to hold but Williams was just unable to turn the rebound home.
There was a scare for Birmingham as Gwennan Harriers slid in to dispossess Dunia Susi after she had received the ball from Leanne Hall who was scrambling back towards the posts as Amy Kane flashed a 30-yard shot just wide.
This incident seemed to galvanise a hitherto lacklustre Everton side and they went close moments later when Harriers headed over at the far post from Toni Duggan's cross. Hall saved from a Michelle Hinnigan free kick and Dowie latched onto a Becky Easton pass to put in an angled shot which was saved.
Everton picked up the pace at the start of the second half and Dowie looked to have broken through before her shot was kept out by a superb challenge from Laura Bassett. Dowie then made another break into the area and cut inside past Chelsea Weston before driving her shot inches wide of the far post.
Birmingham went straight back on the attack via a Potter free kick which dropped kindly for Williams in the area but the striker did not show her usual composure and blazed her left foot shot off target.
Everton drew level ten minutes after the restart after Dowie had initially crossed from the right, the ball was returned back across goal by Harries and Dowie reacted quickest, taking one touch before crashing a left foot shot in off the underside of the bar. Birmingham appealed for handball but their protests were in vain and the goal stood.
Everton were forced into another substitution as Bronze left the field with injury, Brooke Chaplen coming on as a makeshift left back. The change made no difference as Everton continued to press and a strong run by Duggan ended with her shooting wastefully wide when two team mates were well placed.
Marie Ballard fired a snap shot narrowly over for Birmingham but Everton were given a great opportunity to go in front when Weston was penalised for handball from a Harries and a penalty was awarded. Dowie found the top corner from the spot and Everton were ahead for the first time.
Everton's lead lasted just two minutes as Birmingham made hay from another set piece. Potter floated in another delightful corner from the right, Everton were unable to clear and Williams pounced to rifle home the equaliser.
Susi forced a save from Brown when picked out by Potter's clever chip and Ballard was just over with an effort after being fed by Karen Carney as Birmingham threatened to get back on top again. However Everton still looked dangerous going forward with the hard working Duggan a constant threat and Kane tried her luck from long range again with a 30-yard strike which just cleared the bar.
As the game entered the last ten minutes, Birmingham looked to be going back in front as a Carney shot deflected into the path of Susi who dummied her way past Johnson but dragged her shot wide with only Brown to beat.
Everton went back on the attack and Duggan did well to keep possession before laying the ball back for Kane on the edge of the area where she clipped her shot over Hall to restore the Toffees' lead.
Birmingham tried hard to get back into the game but despite their efforts, the Everton defence - in which Fern Whelan excelled - stood firm to pick up three valuable points and bring themselves firmly into the title race.
Birmingham City: Leanne Hall, Chelsea Weston, Kerys Harrop, Sally Stanton, Emily Westwood, Laura Bassett, Dunia Susi, Rachel Williams, Marie Ballard, Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Jess Wright, Stef Curtis, Laura Watts, Jade Moore, Faye Cardin.
Everton: Rachel Brown, Becky Easton, Rachel Unitt (sub Lucy Bronze 11mins (sub Brooke Chaplen 55mins)), Amy Kane, Fern Whelan, Lindsay Johnson, Gwennan Harries (sub Jody Handley 90mins), Jill Scott, Natasha Dowie, Michelle Hinnigan, Toni Duggan. Subs not used: Danielle Hill, Jess Holbrook.
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