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Birmingham City 0 Bristol Academy 0
Bristol Academy dug in under severe second half pressure to claim their first point of the season as Birmingham City once again drew a blank at the Autotech Stadium.
Newly appointed manager Willie Kirk watched for the stands whilst Lauren Smith once again took temporary charge and he would have been impressed by the commitment and efforts of the Academy players and goalkeeper Mary Earps was in superb form all match. In contrast, there was nothing but frustration for a Birmingham side which is yet to score at home and the four matches at Solihull have yielded just one goal, scored by Katie Chapman.
The opening stages of the game were evenly balanced with the best opportunity falling the way of Angharad James on the edge of the area but her volley was wide of the target.
Birmingham hit back with Jade Moore having a shot saved by Earps after exchanging passes with Remi Allen and after Christie Murray shot wide from distance at the other end, the Blues went close when Jo Potter's long ball was chased down by Freda Ayisi whose effort was narrowly wide of the far post.
The Blues were to go even closer when Melissa Lawley flashed a shot across the face of goal after a Jess Carter had not been cleared, but Academy stayed resilient and maintained the blank scoreline going into the interval.
Birmingham brought on Karen Carney early in the second half and changed their formation, which appeared to give them more freedom going forward. Ayisi headed over from a corner, before Carney and Ayisi combined to set up Lawley whose low shot was saved by Earps.
Lawley fired over from 25 yards as the pressure began to increase with Carney and Potter prompting but the Academy defence continued to stand firm with Grace McCatty and Frankie Brown in particular making important challenges.
Birmingham continued to press but the goal just would not come. After Kerys Harrop had won a header from a corner, Earps was quick off her line to block Ayisi's effort and the rebound fell for Meaghan Sargeant who volleyed wide. Another Carter cross picked out Kirsty Linnett whose first touch was good but she blazed her left foot shot over from ten yards.
The Blues rained in crosses from both flanks but Earps' handling was faultless under pressure and time and again she denied the home side any more chances on goal.
However in the final minute of injury time, Lawley did well to get past Brown and cut the ball past Earps and across the face of goal for Carney who slid in with the goal at her mercy and at point blank range but somehow she miscued her shot wide.
The final whistle sounded moments later with Carney and her team mates distraught whilst the Academy players looked delighted at getting off the mark and a much brighter outlook for their future.
Birmingham City: Rebecca Spencer, Alex Windell (sub Karen Carney 49mins), Jess Carter (sub Emily Westwood 89mins), Meaghan Sargeant, Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Melissa Lawley, Remi Allen (sub Kirsty Linnett 62mins), Freda Ayisi, Jade Moore, Jo Potter. Subs not used: Sophie Baggaley, Abbey Leigh Stringer, Cristina Torkildsen, Coral-Jade Haines.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Frankie Brown, Loren Dykes, Jaz Matthews, Grace McCatty, Sophie Ingle, Angharad James, Hayley Ladd (sub Sharla Passariello 74mins), Christie Murray, Nikki Watts, Georgia Evans. Subs not used: Alice Evans, Gabriella Bird, Izzy Dalton, Alex Hurst, Nadia Lawrence.
(top) Loren Dykes takes on Meaghan Sargeant
(middle) Mary Earps gathers the ball following a goalmouth scramble
(bottom) Freda Ayisi has a shot blocked by Mary Earps
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