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Women's Football News
Birmingham City 1 (Williams 3) Lincoln Ladies 1 (Cantrell 38)
Lincoln Ladies dug in under late pressure to hold on for the result they needed to earn their place in the last four of Continental Cup and eliminate Birmingham City, beaten finalists in each of the last two seasons.
Birmingham went into the game needing a win to make sure of going through and they got off to the best possible start, Jo Potter threading a pass into the path of Rachel Williams who planted a left foot shot past Karen Bardsley to give the Blues a third minute lead.
Issy Christiansen tried her luck from long range with a shot which Bardsley saved but Lincoln began to settle down after the early setback and forced their first effort on goal, a loose pass from Potter being picked up by Jess Clarke and the winger's shot was saved by Mary Earps.
Birmingham were dealt a blow soon afterwards though when Rachel Unitt sustained a knee injury and could not continue, being replaced at full back by Hannah George.
Lincoln were coming into the game more as an attacking force and were given a great chance to get back on terms when Remi Allen broke into the area and was pushed over by George. A penalty was awarded and Allen herself took the kick but was denied as Earps dived to her left to save. Birmingham's joy was cut out immediately though as Cantrell was first to the rebound and the striker duly tucked the ball home for the equaliser.
Birmingham reacted well to the goal with Williams having a shot saved and then the England striker got on the end of a deep cross by Chelsea Weston but Bardsley did well to stop her header. There was a scare for Lincoln as Casey Stoney rolled a back pass to Bardsley who sliced her clearance, the ball looped towards Christiansen who sidefooted the ball past her but wide of the target.
As the game went into injury time, Christiansen did get the ball in the net but her effort was disallowed as Williams was penalised for her challenge on Bardsley. Back came Lincoln with Amy Turner floating a dangerous cross into the area but Emily Roberts could not direct her header on target.
Birmingham introduced Kirsty Linnett as a half time substitute but the first opportunity of the second half came Lincoln's way as Cantrell chased a long clearance and held off Kerys Harrop as she bore down on goal but she was foiled by a brilliant saving tackle from George, who atoned for giving away the penalty.
Moments later there was the worrying sight of Stoney limping off with a hamstring injury and Lincoln were forced into a reshuffle, Bonnie Horwood coming on at full back with Turner slotting into the centre.
Birmingham were next to go close on the hour as Weston's free kick picked out Williams on the far post, her shot was deflected and as Linnett looked poised to score, Roberts saved the day for her side as she slid in to prevent her with a crucial challenge.
As the half wore on, Birmingham began to commit players further forwards but Lincoln always looked dangerous on the counter attack, led up front by the tireless Cantrell. A Precious Hamilton cross was half cleared by the Blues defence as far as Sophie Walton who flashed a shot just wide and Clarke was just off target following another breakaway.
Hamilton became the third player to limp off during the course of the game, Meaghan Sargeant taking her place, as extra defensive cover with Birmingham now playing five players up front to try and get the goal which would take them through.
Weston drilled a well struck 25-yard free kick which brought out an excellent diving save from Bardsley who also did well to hold a firm shot by Williams. Weston was again to go close, this time with a cross from near the touchline which was dipping under the bar but a back pedalling Bardsley was able to tip the ball round the post.
Lincoln were forced to deal with a scramble during injury time when Harrop pumped a long ball into the area and Bardsley could not hold under pressure, however a combination of four Lincoln defenders managed to keep the ball away from goal as Birmingham tried to force it home and finally the Lady Imps could celebrate the point which books their place in the semi finals.
Birmingham City: Mary Earps, Chelsea Weston, Rachel Unitt (sub Hannah George 23mins), Jade Moore, Kerys Harrop, Laura Bassett, Issy Christiansen (sub Katie Wilkinson 64mins), Rachel Williams, Emily Westwood, Melissa Lawley (sub Kirsty Linnett 45mins), Jo Potter. Subs not used: Marie Hourihan, Cristina Torkildsen, Coral Haines, Emily Simpkins.
Lincoln Ladies: Karen Bardsley, Amy Turner, Martha Harris, Sophie Walton, Sophie Bradley, Casey Stoney (sub Bonnie Horwood 54mins), Emily Roberts (sub Megan Harris 69mins), Precious Hamilton (sub Meaghan Sargeant 84mins), Carla Cantrell, Remi Allen, Jess Clarke. Subs not used: Amy Kay, Lauren Cresswell.
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