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Arsenal 6 Birmingham City 0
Birmingham City's defence of the FA Women's Cup was ended in brutal fashion with a 6-0 thrashing by Arsenal at Bishop's Stortford.
The holders conceded three in each half in a dismal peformance with the Gunners warming up nicely for their Champions League semi final first leg against VFL Wolfsburg at the weekend. Blues were guilty of individual errors for at least three of the goals but the Arsenal finishing was of the highest order.
After a cautious opening ten minutes, Arsenal took the lead when a Gemma Davison shot from the edge of the area found its way past Marie Hourihan into the far corner. Ellen White nearly added a second straight away but was denied by good work from the Blues keeper.
Jordan Nobbs was given time and space to hammer an excellent 25-yard effort past Hourihan for the second. Blues finally put a passing move together on 34 minutes when Rachel Williams found Izzy Christiansen whose cut back allowed Emily Simpkins to fire a shot which was deflected just wide of Emma Byrne's goal.
The crucial third goal came when Rachel Yankey evaded her marker on the Arsenal right and a near post cross was met with a delicate angled header into the opposite corner by White for a three goal interval lead.
Any hopes of a Birmingham comeback were extinguished within ten minutes of the restart by two more Arsenal goals of high quality. Yankey played a pass into a large gap in central defence for White to finish expertly then Davison was released on the right and her cut back was hammered into the net by Kim Little on 54 minutes.
Birmingham had a better spell by dint of changing personnel to offer the hard working Williams some much needed support. Byrne had to save from a Kate Wilkinson effort and Williams put a half chance wide.
Arsenal were not finished and Davison latched on to more hesitant defending to break clear and round sub keeper Mary Earps and finish from a tight angle for the sixth. Earps denied Davison her hat trick with a smart save just before the final whistle.
An unprecednted scoreline between any two WSL sides, let alone the top two from last season was totally unexpected. Birmingham have the chance to make amends against Chelsea on Sunday whilst Arsenal looked in sharp form to welcome their German visitors. The crowd of 520 were treated to some excellent team play and spectacular finishing from Arsenal assisted by a below par Blues performance.
Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott (sub Jennifer Beattie 57mins), Niamh Fahey, Steph Houghton, Gilly Flaherty, Ciara Grant, Gemma Davison, Jordan Nobbs, Ellen White, Kim Little, Rachel Yankey (sub Danielle Carter 69mins). Subs not used: Rebecca Spencer, Yvonne Tracy, Jayne Ludlow.
Birmingham City: Marie Hourihan (sub Mary Earps 69mins), Chelsea Weston, Rachel Unitt, Jade Moore, Kerys Harrop, Laura Bassett, Emily Simpkins, Emily Westwood (sub Kate Wilkinson 65mins), Rachel Williams, Issy Christiansen, Jo Potter (sub Crissy Torkildsen 63mins). Subs not used: Coral-Jade Haines, Kirsty Linnett.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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