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Birmingham City 0 Everton 0
Birmingham and Everton battled out a goalless draw to open their respective FA WSL 1 campaigns at Solihull with the Toffees likely to be the happier of the two sides.
With their UEFA Women's Champions League semi final just days away, Birmingham manager David Parker took the bold step of leaving out several first choice players but it did not disrupt things too much for his side.
It was Everton who created the first opportunity of the game, Michelle Hinnigan's corner being met by Fern Whelan whose header was saved by Rebecca Spencer. Whelan was soon heavily involved at the other end with a superbly timed tackle on Emily Simpkins after she had been found in the area by Karen Carney.
The Blues started to press and after Hannah Keryakoplis had turned away from Whelan's challenge and reached the goal line, she cut the ball across goal but Simpkins missed her kick in front of goal with only Rachel Brown-Finnis to beat.
Both teams tried to attack but came up against defences in good form, the likes of Whelan and Kerys Harrop both impressing in front of the watching Mark Sampson. Much of Everton's good play came through captain Hinnigan whilst Carney was in tricky form for Birmingham, who had a great chance to take the lead two minutes before half time when a Carney corner was not cleared and in the ensuing scramble, Brown-Finnis pulled off a smart save from Kate Wilkinson's close range shot.
Birmingham made two changes at the break, bringing on Remi Allen and Kirsty Linnett, but it was Everton who could well have gone in front a minute after the restart. Danielle Turner broke down the left and her ball across goal reached the oncoming Billie Murphy whose shot was saved by Spencer.
Although possession was largely even, the majority of the chances were going Everton's way and Kelly Jones was next to go close, firing over following a good run and cross by Nikita Parris.
Birmingham brought out Jo Potter as their final substitute and the midfielder was soon involved, her corner not being dealt with by the Everton defence and the ball fell for Allen but her shot lacked power and Brown-Finnis was able to save.
The strong running of Parris down both flanks was a big threat to the Blues defence and one shot run and cross from the right picked out Jones whose shot was miscued by seized upon by Turner who drilled her shot past Spencer but back off the post.
Everton again went close when Hinnigan drove a powerful 30-yard effort which flashed inches past the post. Birmingham immediately went on the counter attack with Jade Moore playing in Linnett who burst through to the edge of the area and rattled the bar with her shot.
As the game went into injury time, Everton needed to defend a free kick near the corner flag, taken by Potter with a typical driven, inswinging kick but Brown-Finnis did well to punch away under pressure and the game ended goalless.
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Meaghan Sargeant, Jess Carter, Jade Moore, Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Hannah Keryakoplis, Emily Simpkins (sub Jo Potter 61mins), Kate Wilkinson (sub Kirsty Linnett 45mins), Karen Carney, Cristina Torkildsen (sub Remi Allen 45mins). Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Melissa Lawley, Ashlee Brown, Coral Haines.
Everton: Rachel Brown-Finnis, Billie Murphy, Alex Greenwood, Brooke Chaplen, Fern Whelan, Lindsay Johnson, Jody Handley, Michelle Hinnigan, Nikita Parris, Danielle Turner (sub Simone Magill 77mins), Kelly Jones. Subs not used: Vicky Jones, Lucy Whipp, Gabrielle George, Millie Turner, Megan Walsh, Caitlin Hayes.
(top) Karen Carney takes on Billie Murphy
(middle) Fern Whelan makes a challenge on Hannah Keryakoplis
(bottom) Rachel Brown-Finnis pulls off a brave save at the feet of Emily Simpkins
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