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Birmingham City 2 (Linnett 34, Keryakoplis 49) Notts County 2 (Whelan 3, O'Sullivan 20)
Birmingham were denied the win they needed to take the FA WSL title as they drew 2-2 with Notts County on a pulsating final day.
Goals from Hannah Keryakoplis and Kirsty Linnett had seen the hosts come back from 2-0 down after Aileen Whelan and Fiona O'Sullivan had put County two goals ahead in the first 20 minutes. The result means Blues end the season in third position, missing out on both the title and Champions League qualification in heartbreaking circumstances.
Blues made the worst possible start when, in the third minute, Whelan was left unmarked to head home Katie Hoyle's left wing corner from close range.
Notts County were dominating the opening proceedings and got a deserved second with 20 minutes on the clock. A left wing cross was nodded back across goal by Laura-Jayne O'Neill and when Whelan had a shot blocked, O'Sullivan was on hand to prod home from inside the six yard area.
Blues finally sparked in to life and soon afterwards Karen Carney's corner was cleared back out to her and she fizzed an effort in that County 'keeper Carly Telford was forced to punch clear. The England goalkeeper was being kept busy by the hosts and, two minutes before the half hour mark, Jo Potter unleashed a 30-yard effort that Telford scampered across her goal to collect.
Immediately afterwards, Blues made the first change of the day as Keryakoplis came on to replace Abbey Leigh Stringer as the hosts added another attacking outlet. It was a decision that paid immediate dividends as, in the 34th minute, Blues found a way back in to the game. The Welsh international striker latched on to a loose back pass from Rachel Corsie, rounded Telford and squared the ball to Linnett, with the striker finishing at the second time of asking.
Then, with three minutes of the first half remaining, Blues were awarded a penalty after the referee adjudged Keryakoplis' pass to have been handled. Carney stepped up, but Telford pulled off an incredible double save; firstly, she repelled Carney's initial effort to the right hand side and then managed to spring up to her left hand side to tip the captain's rebound around the post.
Jade Moore replaced Remi Allen at the half time interval and within four minutes of the restart, Blues were level. Linnett looked to have lost possession, but she chased the ball down and saw a clearance thump off her into the path of Keryakoplis. She chested the ball down and finished coolly under pressure.
With just ten minutes of the half gone, Blues continued to exert a lot of pressure on the visitors and, after further bombardment, Jo Potter's free kick from deep found Moore at the back post, she spun on the ball, but her effort on the stretch went over amid heavy pressure.
On the hour mark, Carney's corner found Moore, but her header was deflected away from goal and Aoife Mannion was crowded out as she looked to shoot. A minute later, Jess Carter won the ball, went by two and slipped a great ball through to Carney, she cut inside and fired an effort at goal but Telford held it well.
County almost nicked a third on a rare attack when a corner was cleared to the edge of the area where ex-Blues player Dunia Susi fired in a half volley which clipped the bar as it went over. From there on in, it was all Blues. After 72 minutes, Amy Turner executed a brilliant tackle on Linnett inside the box to deny the striker a second goal.
It was all Blues pressure from there on in and in added on time they had multiple chances to snatch a late goal. In the last minute, Carney lost her marker in the middle of the pitch and sprayed a ball out wide to Linnett, who charged into the box, but saw her right footed effort tipped around the post by the brilliant Telford.
From the resultant corner, Telford was on hand to tip over Jo Potter's curling effort and the subsequent corner yielded another chance as Aoife Mannion got her head to Carney's delivery, but her effort hit Linnett and went behind as the Blues' hopes of lifting the FA WSL title disappeared.
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Chelsea Weston (sub Emily Westwood 80mins), Jess Carter, Abbey Leigh Stringer (sub Hannah Keryakoplis 28mins), Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Melissa Lawley, Remi Allen (sub Jade Moore 45mins), Kirsty Linnett, Karen Carney, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Meaghan Sargeant, Cristina Torkildsen, Emily Simpkins.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Laura-Jayne O'Neill, Amy Whelan, Katie Hoyle, Rachel Corsie, Danielle Brogan, Jess Clarke, Sophie Walton, Fiona O'Sullivan (sub Caitlin Friend 88mins), Aileen Whelan, Desiree Scott (sub Dunia Susi 64mins). Subs not used: Jules Draycott, Ashleigh Plumptre, Emily Roberts.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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