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Remi gives Blues advantage
 Women's Football News 25 Mar 2014
 
Remi gives Blues advantage - 25 Mar 2014 - Women's Football NewsBirmingham City 1 (Allen 25) Arsenal 0
att: 2,671; at Birmingham City FC

Remi Allen scored a well taken goal on her debut to give Birmingham City the advantage going into the second half of their UEFA Women's Champions League quarter final tie. 
 
The win was no less than the Blues deserved and they could have won by a bigger margin against Arsenal's new look side which passed the ball around well at times but did not manage a shot on target all night.
 
As well as Allen, Blues manager Dave Parker also gave a debut to 16-year-old Jess Carter at left back and the youngster responded with an impressive performance, while Meaghan Sargeant and Hannah Keryakoplis were on the bench. Japanese duo Yukari Kinga and Shinobu Ohno both made their first starts for Arsenal whilst Casey Stoney made her first appearance in the competition since 2002, the last time she was with the club.
 
The early stages saw Arsenal dominate possession and win a number of early corners but Birmingham, who had looked very nervous at the start, began to settle and it took a fine saving tackle from Stoney to prevent Allen from getting in on goal.
 
Arsenal hit back with Alex Scott breaking down the right and crossing for Ohno to sweep a shot over the bar, but Birmingham were gathering momentum and should really have taken the lead when Karen Carney's cross was helped on by Allen, Emma Byrne was unable to hold under pressure and the ball broke for Melissa Lawley with the goal at her mercy but the young winger fired over.
 
Six minutes later though, Birmingham were ahead. Chelsea Weston's cross into the area picked out Allen who hooked her shot over Byrne and into the back of the net.
 
Birmingham piled forward in search of a second goal with Jo Potter, who had earlier hit the side netting with a free kick, testing Byrne from long range after exchanging passes with Carter. A breakthrough almost came as Kirsty Linnett burst into the area and planted her shot past Byrne but Stoney was well placed to clear the ball off the line.
 
Potter again shot wide from distance as Birmingham took their one-goal lead going into the interval.
 
The second half was scrappier than the first and both teams were guilty of giving the ball away at times. Arsenal did produce their best move of the game on the hour mark though, Kelly Smith's pass was nodded down by Scott into the path of Ohno but Aoife Mannion made a great challenge to keep the Japanese international at bay.
 
Birmingham responded with Linnett, who had a very impressive match up front, making a strong run towards goal before sending in a curling shot which Byrne dived to her left to push away.
 
There was a let off for Arsenal when a misjudgement by Kinga allowed Allen to get past her and, despite initially appearing to be tugged back, she made her way through on goal, however she elected to pass instead of taking the ball on and the opportunity was lost.
 
Lawley shot wide from the edge of the area but Birmingham were now happy to sit on their lead and prevent any Gunners hopes of an away goal.
 
The chance for Arsenal did come with three minutes left on the clock though, Smith producing a sublime piece of skill to trick her way to the line on the left and whipping in a cross but Ohno volleyed over from around eight yards out.
 
From that point, Birmingham ran down the clock with Carney and Allen keeping possession well to preserve their lead going into Sunday's second leg at The Hive.
 
The Blues were worthy winners on the night with Linnett, Potter and Allen all having excellent games and their young back four - Chelsea Weston the oldest at just 23 - performed extremely well against renowned opponents. Arsenal look to be a 'work in progress' at the moment but Ohno looks an excellent acquisition and Stoney had a solid match on her return. Birmingham have matters in their hands right now, but rule the Gunners out at your peril. 
 
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston, Jess Carter, Jade Moore, Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Melissa Lawley, Remi Allen, Kirsty Linnett (sub Emily Simpkins 78mins), Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Meaghan Sargeant, Hannah Keryakoplis, Katie Wilkinson, Cristina Torkildsen, Coral-Jade Haines.

Arsenal: Emma Byrne, Alex Scott, Emma Mitchell, Jade Bailey, Yukari Kinga, Casey Stoney, Caroline Weir, Shinobu Ohno, Danielle Carter, Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey (sub Freda Ayisi 76mins). Subs not used: Siobhan Chamberlain, Anouk Hoogendijk, Leah Williamson, Bianca Bragg, Vyan Sampson, Carla Humphrey.

Photos:

(top) Yukari Kinga battles with Remi Allen
(middle) Kirsty Linnett gets in a shot
(bottom) Karen Carney shields from Emma Mitchell


 
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