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Birmingham City 2 (Ayisi 14, Lawley 29) Doncaster Rovers Belles 1 (Dowie 5)
Birmingham City recovered from an early setback to record their first victory and points of the WSL 1 season at Solihull.
Both teams went into the game having lost their opening games and it was Doncaster Rovers Belles who were to make a flying start. Alex Gummer floated a free kick into the area, the Birmingham defence were unable to clear and Natasha Dowie gave Sophie Baggaley no chance with an opportunist left foot strike from 15 yards.
Within a minute, the Belles had a glorious chance to double their lead when Jess Sigsworth nipped in to win possession from Remi Allen just outside the area but with just Baggaley to beat, she planted her shot the wrong side of the far post.
This proved to be a crucial moment in the match as Birmingham began to settle down and shortly before the quarter hour, they were back on level terms. Kerys Harrop, playing in an unfamiliar wing back position, broke down the left and her pinpoint cross was headed in by Freda Ayisi from close range.
The goal seemed to lift a weight off the Blues players' shoulders and they pressed hard for a second goal. Jo Potter was off target with a free kick and a good run and cross by Charlie Wellings picked out Ayisi but her shot lacked power and Nicola Hobbs comfortably saved.
Melissa Lawley dragged a shot wide following a shrewd pass from Potter but the winger was to make amends shortly afterwards. This time it was the Belles who did not clear a free kick and Lawley's shot from just inside the area was deflected past Hobbs and in off the far post.
Birmingham continued to have the better of things for the remainder of the half with Potter and Wellings both having opportunities but they could not add to their lead before the break.
Both teams made substitutions at half time and, in contrast to the first half, the second was a much more cagey affair as they struggled to break down the respective defences.
Potter drilled a shot over the bar from outside the area and Emily Simpkins did well to charge down a strike from Ayisi in front of goal to keep her side in the game.
As the game wore on, the Belles threw players forward in an attempt to salvage a point. Dowie was off target with a volley and Katrin Omarsdottir had a header saved by Baggaley, but Birmingham ran the clock down to close the game out for three important points.
Birmingham City: Sophie Baggaley, Jess Carter, Kerys Harrop, Chloe Peplow, Emily Westwood (sub Jade Moore 45mins), Aoife Mannion, Melissa Lawley, Remi Allen, Freda Ayisi, Charlie Wellings (sub Abbey Leigh Stringer 86mins), Jo Potter. Subs not used: Cheryl Edwards, Ashlee Brown, Sian Johnson, Keeley Davies, Ellie Brazil.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Sophie Barker, Alex Gummer (sub Emily Simpkins 45mins), Leandra Little, Sam Tierney (sub Rhiannon Roberts 45mins), Kasia Lipka, Katrin Omarsdottir, Becky Easton, Natasha Dowie, Carla Humphrey, Jess Sigsworth. Subs not used: Yasmin Mosby, Rachel Newborough, Anna Moorhouse.
(top) Natasha Dowie gives Doncaster Rovers Belles the lead
(middle) Jess Sigsworth races through on goal chased by Remi Allen
(bottom) Emily Simpkins wins the ball from Melissa Lawley
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