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Birmingham City 2 (Carney 63, Westwood 75) Oxford Utd 0
Birmingham City moved efficiently to the top of Group Three in the Continental Cup after a comfortable 2-0 victory over Oxford United.
A much changed Blues line up were kept in check for over an hour before a moment of free kick class from Karen Carney gave them the lead. A fortuitous second from Emily Westwood ensured there were no late nerves for David Parker's team who now face decisive matches at home to Notts County and Bristol Academy to attempt to clinch a semi final berth.
Oxford arrived with the boost of their first WSL 2 win away to Durham Women and were soon showing their improved defensive prowess as Blues threw a series of attacks their way. Kirsty Linnett and Carney were able to reach dangerous areas but their crosses flew away to safety. Sahara Osborne-Ricketts made two crucial interceptions to avert goalmouth danger and Demi Lambourne made a couple of very positive forays to collect crosses under pressure.
Hannah Keryakopolis netted after taking the ball round Lambourne but was denied by the assistant's flag. At the other end, Kerys Harrop dealt with the occasional threat from Lauren Allison and Katie Stanley whilst Sophie Baggaley was quick off her line to mop up danger a couple of times as the visitors moved the ball very fluently at times on the break.
Birmingham brought Jo Potter and Remi Allen off the bench at half time to seek a way past a stubborn Oxford defence but little went their way early in the second period.
On 63 minutes, Rosie Lane was adjudged to have committed a foul 20 yards out in a central position. Carney dispatched a perfect free kick high into the top left corner beyond Lambourne's dive for the opening goal.
Carney nearly added a second with a lob over the advancing keeper which landed on the roof of the net. Suddenly chances came, with Emily Westwood inches wide via a curling shot from 12 yards out. The same player notched the second on 75 minutes, her block of an attempted clearance of a Harrop header from a right wing corner rebounding into the net.
Allen was close to a third, driving into the area before poking an effort wide of both keeper and post. Ellen Franklin-Fraiture, a lively substitute for Oxford, set up their best attempt, a run and cross allowing Amy Chivers to shoot narrowly wide. Lambourne made a couple of good saves from Potter and Jade Moore near the end to keep the score very respectable.
Charlie Wellings was given a first taste of senior action and other players such as Emily Simpkins, Cristina Torkildsen and Westwood got a full 90 minutes in a changed Blues line up. Oxford battled hard throughout and showed the progress the team is making after a somewhat rocky start in the WSL.
Birmingham City: Sophie Baggaley, Meaghan Sargeant, Emily Simpkins, Jade Moore, Cristina Torkildsen, Kerys Harrop, Hannah Keryakoplis (sub Remi Allen 45mins), Emily Westwood, Kirsty Linnett, Karen Carney (sub Charlie Wellings 75mins), Coral Haines (sub Jo Potter 45mins). Subs not used: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston, Hannah George.
Oxford Utd: Demi Lambourne, Rosie Lane, Amy Chivers, Louise Fellows (sub Ellen Franklin-Fraiture 45mins), Sahara Osborne-Ricketts (sub Chloe Bruce 83mins), Jemma Connor-Iommi, Katie Stanley, Katherine Nutman, Lauren Allison, Helen King, Laura Low (sub Laura Nichol 63mins). Subs not used: Hannah Cox, Lindsay Pinker.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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