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Birmingham City 2 (Aluko 31, Taylor 71)
Doncaster Rovers Belles 0
Birmingham City eased into the semi finals of the Continental Cup with a comfortable victory over Doncaster Rovers Belles at Stratford.
A goal in each half from Eniola Aluko and in-form striker Jodie Taylor was enough to see the Blues home against a Belles side which worked hard without ever really looking like scoring.
The Belles did have the first attempt on goal as Jessica Sigsworth drove a shot over the bar but the Blues, who had made a number of changes to their side, began to press and Taylor broke down the left, taking on Leandra Little before producing a snap shot which was well held by Mary Earps.
Rachel Williams exchanged passes with Taylor before sending in a low left foot shot which Earps did well to get down and save whilst Taylor was denied by a good covering challenge from Little as she threatened to break through on goal.
Little was involved at the other end as she drilled an angled shot wide of the far post but despite some good approach play, the Belles struggled to create clear cut opportunities.
Isobel Christiansen went close as she met a Chelsea Weston cross with a half volley which flew just over but Birmingham were ahead just after the half hour when Aluko broke into the area and beat Earps with a low finish which found the far corner.
Birmingham sought to capitalise on their one-goal advantage but the Belles were defending strongly with Lyndsey Cunningham and Tanya Oxtoby showing up well in the centre, whilst full backs Little and Naomi Chadwick also had good games. Doncaster had their best chance shortly before half time when Kasia Lipka slid a neat pass into the path of Aine O'Gorman who only had Laura Bassett to beat but elected to take her shot early and fired wide.
Birmingham picked up the pace from the start of the second half and a dangerous free kick by Karen Carney was stabbed goalwards by Rachel Unitt but just wide of the post. Carney then created another chance as she put Williams through on goal but the prolific striker was denied by a good save from Earps.
However the pressure eventually told and Doncaster were undone by a long ball from Emily Westwood, from which Taylor held off the attentions of Oxtoby and steadied herself before planting her shot past Earps for the second goal.
The introduction of Julie-Ann Russell gave the Belles some extra impetus in attack and the Irish winger made some lively runs down the left. However her side could have found themselves three down as a loose pass from Oxtoby was intercepted by Taylor but she was foiled by a fine smothering save from the excellent Earps.
Birmingham finished the game with ten players when, having used all three substitutes, Jade Moore went off as a precaution, the combative midfielder having come off worst following a strong challenge on Alyssa Lagonia.
Doncaster did not give up and tried hard for a consolation, firstly Lagonia shooting wide after cutting in from the left and then a mis-directed pass by Unitt went straight to Sigsworth, who was unlucky not to reduce the arrears with a 25-yard strike which dipped over Marie Hourihan and landed on the roof of the net.
Birmingham hit back with Taylor forcing a save from Earps and Westwood shooting wide but the result, together with Bristol Academy's win over Everton, means that the Blues finish in second place in their group and will take on Lincoln Ladies in the semi finals.
Birmingham City: Marie Hourihan, Chelsea Weston (sub Emily Westwood 57mins), Rachel Unitt, Jade Moore, Kerys Harrop, Laura Bassett, Isobel Christiansen, Rachel Williams (sub Marie Ballard 73mins), Eniola Aluko, Karen Carney (sub Jo Potter 63mins), Jodie Taylor. Subs not used: Anna Wilcox, Hannah George, Harley Simpson, Cristina Torkildsen.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Mary Earps, Lyndsey Cunningham, Naomi Chadwick (sub Shelby Hills 71mins), Leandra Little, Tanya Oxtoby, Katie Holtham, Jessica Sigsworth, Millie Bright (sub Julie-Ann Russell 63mins), Aine O'Gorman (sub Beth England 45mins), Alyssa Lagonia, Kasia Lipka. Sub not used: Lucy Sowerby.
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