Birmingham City 2-1 Everton
The FA WSL
Wednesday 4 September 2013
Birmingham City signed off their home campaign, and their last ever league match at Statford’s DCS Stadium, with a 2-1 win over Everton, but once again they did it the hard way by making a spirited second-half fightback.
The game was all about two debutants, Birmingham defender Aiofe Mannion and Everton goalkeeper Megan Walsh.
Mannion was at fault for Everton’s opener with an underhit back pass that Nikita Parris latched on to and calmly slotted away in the 15th minute.
But the youngster regained her composure to put in a player of the match performance, with goal saving tackles and pinpoint passes.
At the other end, Toffees stopper Walsh had only signed in the last couple of days from Aston Villa and was drafted in to play five minutes before kick-off after Rachel Brown-Finnis was injured in the warm up.
For 75 minutes she kept Birmingham out with a string of fine saves.
But the Blues pressure finally told as Jade Moore headed the equaliser on 76 minutes, before Mel Lawley slipped through the defence to slot the winner three minutes from time.
Birmingham boss David Parker was full of praise for Mannion: “The mistake could have buried most players yet alone a youngster.
“She’s come back and started pinging the ball left and right, she’s played against an international centre forward [in Toni Duggan] tonight and we haven’t seen her all evening.”
There was controversy at the end when Everton sub Paige Williams crashed a free-kick against the crossbar and the visitors thought they scored from the rebound, only for referee Mark Billingham to pull the game back for encroachment by Izzy Christiansen.
Everton boss Andy Spence was understandably disappointed.
He said: “My understanding is the advantage always goes with the attacking team but I think if the referee had just held on for another five seconds he then would have seen we had a huge advantage."
But he was full of praise for his team, especially his goalkeeper, despite the result: “We were outstanding in the first half and I thought we deserved to be ahead. But you know, coming to Birmingham, you’ll always be under the cosh.
"We’ve obviously conceded at the end and I’m disappointed about that, but overall you can’t fault the girls.
"If anyone deserved player of the match it would be Megan. I’ve just spoken to her and told her she’s shown the maturity of a 30-year-old seasoned professional.”
Spencer, Weston, Mannion, Westwood, Harrop, Potter, Moore, Lawley, Carney, Linnett, Christiansen
Substitutes not used: Simpkins, Torkildsen, George, Wilkinson, Earps, Haines.
Walsh, Chaplen, Johnson, Greenwood, Jones (Williams, 70), Kane, Scott, Hinnigan, Parris (Boye-Hlorkah, 73), Handley, Duggan
Substitutes not used: Whipp, Magill, Murphy.
Referee Mark Billingham