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Women's Football News
Birmingham City 1 (Keryakoplis 86) Liverpool 2 (Da Costa 29, Williams 87)
Liverpool completed a good weekend for themselves with victory in a crucial match against title rivals Birmingham City at the Autotech Stadium.
A piece of quick thinking from Fara Williams saw the Reds keep their hopes of retaining the title alive, moments after substitute Hannah Keryakoplis looked to have rescued a point for Birmingham against her former club, although the goal was hotly disputed by the home side.
Chelsea's defeat away to Notts County the previous day had given both teams plenty of incentive to step up their own challenges and after a slow start to the game, it was Emily Simpkins who had the first opportunity when she glanced a header wide from Kirsty Linnett's cross.
Amanda Da Costa drove a long range shot over the bar and Karen Carney had an effort saved by Libby Stout at the other end, before Liverpool opened the scoring just before the half hour.
Lucy Bronze whipped a cross into the area where the ball bobbled around until Martha Harris did well to turn and send in a shot which was blocked and Natasha Dowie diverted the ball back for Da Costa to crash a shot into the roof of the net from eight yards.
Da Costa was almost in for a second with a strong run into the area but Aoife Mannion came to her side's rescue with a superbly timed tackle to deny her. The goal had given Liverpool a huge lift and they passed the ball around confidently as they took their lead into the interval.
Birmingham tried to step up the pace after the break but it was Liverpool who were inches away from extending their lead as Katrin Omarsdottir unleashed a shot from 25 yards which sailed narrowly over the bar.
The home side were struggling to make an impression against a well drilled Liverpool defence, excellently marshalled by captain Gemma Bonner and with veteran Becky Easton having a fine game in the centre.
The best chance so far for Birmingham came midway through the half when a Linnett cross was half cleared as far as the edge of the area and into the path of Jo Potter but the England midfielder fired her shot over the bar.
A Chelsea Weston cross almost led to a bizarre equaliser, Lucy Bronze's far post clearance cannoned back goalwards off Melissa Lawley but the ball flew straight back at a comfortable height and pace for Libby Stout to safely gather.
At the other end, a well worked corner routine saw Fara Williams exchange passes with Katie Zelem before whipping in a near post cross where an unmarked Dowie sent her header wide of the goal.
Liverpool looked to have weathered the storm, having needed to defend several corners and free kicks, but with four minutes left, Linnett chased down a pass from Lawley and Stout raced off her line to clear. However the Liverpool keeper scuffed her clearance as far as Keryakoplis who took a touch before returning the ball with interest, lobbing the stranded Stout as well as two retreating defenders to level the scores.
Birmingham celebrated wildly but this was to prove their undoing. Becky Spencer had left her goal to join her team mates but as she made her way back to goal, Williams had spotted her off her line and with a perfectly executed lob of her own, chipped the ball into the back of the net from the centre circle.
One delightful lob had cancelled out another, meanwhile Birmingham's joy had now turned to anger. They protested that the referee had not blown his whistle to restart play - something he admitted to after the game - and their mood was not helped by his refusal to allow them to restart the game whilst Liverpool themselves were celebrating.
There was still time for Birmingham to have another chance to salvage a point but Carney's free kick just eluded Emily Westwood and Liverpool held out to take themselves above Birmingham and into second place, one point behind leaders Chelsea.
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston, Jess Carter, Emily Simpkins (sub Emily Westwood 61mins), Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Melissa Lawley, Remi Allen, Kirsty Linnett (sub Hannah Keryakoplis 83mins), Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Meaghan Sargeant, Cristina Torkildsen, Abbey Leigh Stringer.
Liverpool: Libby Stout, Lucy Bronze, Martha Harris (sub Ashley Hodson 83mins), Fara Williams, Gemma Bonner, Becky Easton, Kate Longhurst (sub Gemma Davison 59mins), Katrin Omarsdottir, Natasha Dowie, Amanda Da Costa (sub Katie Zelem 76mins), Corina Schroder. Subs not used: Danielle Gibbons, Nina Pedersen.
(top) Aoife Mannion denies Amanda Da Costa with a superbly timed tackle
(middle) Gemma Bonner is closed down by Remi Allen
(bottom) Birmingham celebrate their goal, but Emily Westwood and Karen Carney appear to have spotted something...
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