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Women's Football News
Manchester City 1 (Scott 57) Birmingham City 2 (Carney 15,87)
Manchester City suffered their second consecutive defeat in the FA Women's Super League at the hands of title chasing Birmingham City, who took their challenge to the last game of the season.
Though Jill Scott had cancelled out Karen Carney's first half effort just after the hour mark, the visitors' captain netted a winner with just four minutes of normal time remaining to keep her side's title hopes alive.
The hosts started brightly, eager to return to winning ways following last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Bristol Academy. On that day, City did everything but score and it was clear the home side wanted to sharpen their attacking prowess, as the hard working Toni Duggan tried her luck with a powerful effort that crashed against the bar after just two minutes.
Birmingham heeded the warning though and set about showcasing their own offensive threat. Carney - the Player of the Match by some distance - whipped in a cross to Abbey Leigh Stringer, who poked wide at the near post. Jess Carter also saw her shot suffer the same fate just moments later before Carney opened the scoring on fifteen minutes.
The visitors saw calls for a penalty waved away by referee Paul Graham, before the ball was hooked back in, landing in the path of Carney. While the City defence appealed desperately for offside, the winger clipped the ball over Karen Bardsley and into the back of the net to break the deadlock.
Within minutes, the hosts had almost levelled as Scott latched on to Steph Houghton's header back across goal - only to see her touch cleared off the line by Chelsea Weston. City enjoyed more of the possession following that chance but rarely troubled Becky Spencer in the visitors' goal. Birmingham on the other hand looked dangerous on the counter attack and could have doubled their advantage if not for the efforts of Bardsley.
With City struggling to carve out chances, the home side entered the break trailing by a goal to nil. After the restart though, Cushing's side looked sharper, more direct and determined to find an equaliser. Keira Walsh was particularly impressive in midfield, with a solid display that defied her youth.
Duggan was unlucky to see two efforts blocked before a moment of individual brilliance sparked joyous scenes in the home camp. As City piled on the pressure, the visitors struggled to clear and a defensive header fell perfectly for Scott at the edge of the area. With no second invitation required, the England midfielder unleashed an unstoppable strike into the top corner to level the scores.
With the bit between their teeth, it looked as though Cushing's side would press for a winner but with so much at stake, the away side held firm and sought a second themselves. Bardsley was called into action yet again on 66 minutes, saving at the near post before Houghton tried her luck at the other end with a header that bounced wide. Kirsty Linnett then spurned another good chance as the away side pushed forward.
Just when it looked as though the points would be shared, Linnett picked up on a loose ball before releasing Carney, who bore down on goal before firing an effort into the bottom corner to hand her side a precious win that keeps them in the hunt for the title.
It was a cruel blow for the hosts, who deserved more for their second half performance, but it was clear from the celebrations just how much it meant to Birmingham.
City did almost find an equaliser in stoppage time but Duggan's header lacked the strength to trouble Spencer. At the other end, substitute Hannah Keryakoplis volleyed straight at Bardsley but in the end, two proved enough for the away side.
Manchester City: Karen Bardsley, Nicki Harding, Georgia Brougham, Betsy Hassett, Abbie McManus (sub Emma Lipman 75mins), Steph Houghton, Keira Walsh, Jill Scott, Toni Duggan, Natasha Flint (sub Krystle Johnston 65mins), Issy Christiansen. Subs not used: Alex Brooks, Danielle Young, Emma Kete.
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston, Jess Carter, Abbey Leigh Stringer (sub Hannah Keryakoplis 71mins), Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Melissa Lawley, Remi Allen, Kirsty Linnett (sub Emily Simpkins 90mins), Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Meaghan Sargeant, Emily Westwood, Cristina Torkildsen, Charlie Wellings.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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