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Bristol Academy 0 Birmingham City 2 (Haines 14, Potter 81)
Birmingham City eased into the quarter finals of the Continental Tyres Cup with a comfortable victory at Stoke Gifford, whilst Bristol Academy must wait and see if their place in the knockout stages is confirmed.
With next week's crucial WSL 1 battle in mind, both sides took the opportunity to rest key players in the final group match but it was Birmingham who looked the stronger from the start and nearly took the lead in the fourth minute when a corner was cleared as far as Jo Potter whose 20-yard strike rattled against the bar.
Freda Ayisi then wriggled past two defenders on her way to goal before being denied by an excellent point blank save from Hannah Reid but the Blues' enterprising start brought its reward on 14 minutes, albeit with a slight element of fortune. Coral Haines picked the ball up just inside the area and fired a shot which took a deflection of an Academy defender and past a wrong footed Reid for the opening goal.
Reid was called into action again as she needed to claw away a dangerous Ayisi cross at the far post under pressure from Karen Carney and shortly afterwards, Ayisi dragged a shot wide when well placed in the area.
Ayisi was looking sharp going forward and was to have another chance when Carney intercepted a poor pass and slid the ball through to her but once again Reid came to the rescue with another important save. Charlie Wellings then thought she had put Birmingham further in front with a good left foot finish but an offside flag had been raised.
The visitors had dominated matters during the first half and Academy had threatened little going forward, apart from one scare for Birmingham when Sophie Baggaley was momentarily dispossessed by Evdokia Popadinova. Nadia Lawrence hooked a shot narrowly wide following a scramble from a corner but it was a rare moment of opportunity for the hosts before the break.
Academy made a double substitution at half time to give them greater impetus going forward but Birmingham were unlucky not to go two goals ahead three minutes after the restart. Potter's free kick into the area picked out Kerys Harrop who took a touch before her shot came back off the post.
The home side were much more competitive in the second half but found it difficult to break down a first choice Birmingham defence. Angharad James had a twice taken free kick saved and Baggaley need to hold long range efforts from Sharla Passairello and Georgia Evans above her head.
The game was sewn up with nine minutes remaining when Potter swung in a free kick from the right which went in at the far post. Aoife Mannion was credited with the goal as she appeared to bundle it in at the far post - however the defender confirmed after the game that she had not touched the ball and it was Potter's goal.
Wellings was to go close late on as she chased down a long ball forward and drilled a low shot inches wide. Birmingham had taken the spoils but both sides will be viewing next week's relegation battle as the important clash.
Bristol Academy: Hannah Reid, Frankie Brown, Lauren Townsend (sub Loren Dykes 45mins), Georgia Evans, Hannah Short, Angharad James, Nadia Lawrence (sub Christie Murray 80mins), Hayley Ladd, Evdokia Popadinova, Tatiana Pinto, Gabriella Bird (sub Sharla Passariello 45mins). Subs not used: Mary Earps, Jade Boho-Sayo, Sophie Ingle, Marije Brummel.
Birmingham City: Sophie Baggaley, Alex Windell, Jess Carter, Chloe Peplow (sub Remi Allen 77mins), Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop (sub Meaghan Sargeant 62mins), Freda Ayisi, Coral Haines, Charlie Wellings, Karen Carney (sub Kirsty Linnett 62mins), Jo Potter. Subs not used: Melissa Lawley, Cheryl Edwards, Ashley Brown.
(top) Alex Windell is challenged by Gabriella Bird
(middle) Jo Potter fires a shot narrowly wide
(bottom) Hannah Reid makes a good save from Freda Ayisi
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