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Women's Football News
Birmingham City 2 (Haines 51, Christiansen 68)
Liverpool 4 (Rolser 25,39,49, Fors 31)
Nicole Rolser scored a hat-trick to keep Liverpool two points clear at the top of the FA WSL with a crucial victory at Stratford.
The goals propelled the German winger, who has been in unstoppable form recently, to the top of the scoring charts with ten to her name as Liverpool put themselves in charge with a commanding first half display before needing to withstand a spirited Birmingham fightback after the break.
Although Birmingham started brightly, Liverpool began to impose themselves on the game and should really have gone in front when Natasha Dowie broke through on goal and held off Crissy Torkildsen before sliding her shot past Rebecca Spencer but also just wide of the post.
However just five minutes later, Louise Fors was released on the right and she swung in a deep cross which was not dealt with by the Birmingham defence and Rolser stole in to tuck the ball home beyond the far post.
Liverpool began to dominate possession and a foul on Katrin Omarsdottir 25 yards from goal gave them the opportunity to double their lead. Fors stepped up to curl a delightful shot over the wall, beyond the reach of Spencer and into the top corner.
With Omarsdottir, Fara Williams and Amanda Da Costa commanding the midfield against a Birmingham side which was struggling to get going, it was not too long before the third goal came. Da Costa slid a pass into the path of Rolser who outpaced the Blues defence and cut in from the left and beat Spencer via a deflection.
Four minutes after the restart, the free scoring Reds increased their lead further and were threatening to run riot following one of the team goals of the season. After a period of possession across their back four, Liverpool suddenly worked the ball forward and Da Costa was again the creator, her through ball releasing Rolser who sped clear before rounding Spencer and slotting into the empty net to complete her hat-trick.
Birmingham made a substitution at that point with Melissa Lawley, who had looked tired following her exertions for England Under-19s less than 24 hours earlier, being replaced by Coral Haines. Within a minute, Birmingham went on the attack with Whitney Engen trying to shield the ball out of play from Kirsty Linnett, who got a foot to the ball and cut it back for Haines to bury a shot from ten yards, scoring her first WSL goal with her first touch.
Suddenly Birmingham looked a rejuvenated outfit, reminiscent of their display against Arsenal two weeks earlier. Chelsea Weston had a shot deflected just over and Gemma Bonner made a great clearing header from a dangerous Jo Potter cross. The Reds captain also made an important interception to deny Linnett following a scramble from a corner.
Lucy Bronze had a shot charged down at the other end but it was Birmingham who were to strike again midway through the second half. Once again they owed a lot to the persistence of Linnett who this time chased down Bronze as she tried to shield the ball out of play and won it back, finding Issy Christiansen who took a touch before poking a shot which beat Laws and found the far corner of the net.
The goal pepped up Birmingham and they carried the game to their opponents in search of another strike but Bonner and Engen made important challenges as Liverpool rode out the period of possession.
There was a late scare for Liverpool when Engen's headed back pass was intercepted by Christiansen who attempted to lob the ball home but she was foiled by an excellent save from Laws.
Liverpool were able to see the game out without any further problems as they passed another test in their aims to pick up a first league title.
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston, Kerys Harrop, Jade Moore, Crissy Torkildsen, Emily Westwood, Issy Christiansen, Melissa Lawley (sub Coral Haines 50mins), Kirsty Linnett, Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Emily Simpkins, Aoife Mannion, Hannah George, Kate Wilkinson, Mary Earps.
Liverpool: Rachael Laws, Lucy Bronze, Corina Schroder (sub Becky Easton 81mins), Fara Williams, Gemma Bonner, Whitney Engen, Amanda Da Costa (sub Jess Holbrook 83mins), Katrin Omarsdottir, Natasha Dowie, Louise Fors (sub Kate Longhurst 74mins), Nicole Rolser. Subs not used: Sarah Quantrill, Sam Chappell, Sarah Gregorius.
(top) Lucy Bronze takes on Melissa Lawley
(middle) Issy Christiansen scores Birmingham's second goal
(bottom) Jade Moore has a shot blocked by Gemma Bonner and Whitney Engen
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