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Bristol Academy 2 (Del Rio 10, James 48)
Birmingham City 2 (Williams 2, Moore 54)
A second half equaliser from Jade Moore has put Birmingham City on the verge of the runners-up spot in the FA WSL for the second year in a row whilst the 2-2 draw confirmed Arsenal as Champions.
Ironically it was former Arsenal midfielder Angharad James who struck the goal which ultimately secured the title for her old club as Academy recovered from an early setback to claim a deserved share of the spoils.
Birmingham went into the game needing a win to keep their slim title hopes alive and they got off to a perfect start, taking the lead after two minutes of play. It seemed as though the initial danger had been averted when Academy survived a goalmouth scramble but Chelsea Weston whipped in an excellent cross and Rachel Williams scored with a towering header, despite Alex Windell's best efforts to keep the ball out.
The visitors continued to press for a second goal but were hit in the tenth minutes as Academy scored with their first attack of the game. Grace McCatty initially did well to win the ball and her pass was touched on by Michelle Green into the path of Laura Del Rio, who shrugged off a challenge from Emily Westwood before rounding Marie Hourihan and burying her shot past the despairing dive of Laura Bassett on the line.
Birmingham responded with a long range Jade Moore effort which flew just over but at the other end, a good move almost resulted in the home side going in front. Del Rio's ball across the edge of the area was dummied by Windell for Corinne Yorston whose strike was tipped over by Hourihan.
The Blues were handed a great opportunity to go back in front at the midway point when James was penalised for a challenge on Jo Potter in the area and a penalty was awarded. Jodie Taylor stepped up and although her kick was well struck, Siobhan Chamberlain dived to her left and pulled off a great save. From the resulting corner, taken by Potter, Williams rose highest and thumped a powerful header against the bar.
There continued to be chances at either end, firstly with Watts letting fly from 25 yards with a shot which Hourihan held above her end, but Birmingham were again to go very close as Potter chipped a neat pass into the path of Taylor who took the ball around Chamberlain but McCatty did well to get back and block her shot on the line. Natasha Harding saw a header saved by Hourihan as the scoreline remained level going into the break.
The initial chance of the second half went the way of Birmingham with Westwood heading wide from a Weston free kick but moments later, Academy came up with a stunning response.
There seemed to little danger to the visitors as James picked up the ball 30 yards from goal but the young midfielder unleashed a firm strike which dipped over a diving Hourihan and under the bar to register her first goal of the season.
Academy's joy lasted only six minutes though, a Karen Carney corner could not be cleared by the defence and Potter was able to return the ball back across goal for Moore to find the corner of the net with a well directed header.
Both teams pushed hard to try and get in front and it was Academy who were next to go close. Harding's cross from the right picked out Del Rio but the Spaniard's downward header was blocked by the legs of Hourihan. Moments later, Kerys Harrop got forward for Birmingham and after her shot was charged down, Eniola Aluko fired the rebound over.
The teams continued to trade shots at either end, Loren Dykes intercepting a ball out of defence and finding Watts whose shot was saved by Hourihan. Back came Birmingham with Harrop having a shot saved by Chamberlain and Williams heading over from a Carney corner.
Birmingham inflicted late pressure in an attempt to keep any remaining title hopes alive but the home side - still sporting the best defensive record in the league - stayed firm although it needed alert goalkeeping from Chamberlain to keep them on level terms as she raced from her line to deny Taylor after the striker had exchanged passes with Aluko.
As the game went into injury time, Birmingham thought they were going to get a second penalty when Moore appeared to be brought down in the area by Yorston but instead a free kick was awarded outside the area. Potter drove a shot which was arrowing towards the corner of the net but Chamberlain dived full length to plam the ball away.
Only a ten-goal swing on the final day of the season can prevent Birmingham from finishing in second place. They host Champions Arsenal whilst third placed Everton are at home to Bristol Academy, who will themselves be seeking to round off a good season with a top half place.
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Loren Dykes, Corinne Yorston, Grace McCatty, Jemma Rose, Michelle Green (sub Ellie Curson 70mins), Laura Del Rio Garcia, Alex Windell (sub Ann Marie Heatherson 89mins), Natasha Harding, Angharad James, Nikki Watts. Subs not used: Rhian Cleverly, Ellie Leek.
Birmingham City: Marie Hourihan, Chelsea Weston, Kerys Harrop, Jade Moore, Emily Westwood, Laura Bassett, Eniola Aluko, Rachel Williams, Jodie Taylor, Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Emily Simpkins, Issy Christiansen, Hannah George, Rachel Unitt, Marie Ballard, Cristina Torkildsen, Rebecca Spencer.
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