Birmingham University’s Women’s Football 1st XI beat Loughborough 1-0 on a dreary, grey day at the Metchley sport pitch, thanks to a superb goal from their captain Laura Cooper.
The opening exchanges of the game were tense and scrappy, with a congested central midfield area not allowing for much neat passing, so both teams struggled to find any real rhythm in the early stages. Both defences were frequently called upon to stop lofted balls from being smuggled into the spaces behind them, and they reduced the attacking players to half-chances and speculative long range shots that rarely troubled their respective keepers. Birmingham’s right-winger made some mazy runs in the first half, but her crosses were dealt with comfortably by the Loughborough defence.
The second half was a much more exciting affair. Having initially seemed keen to settle for a draw, Loughborough changed their tactics, moving to a 4-2-3-1 formation that really started to put pressure on the Birmingham defence, and gaps soon started to appear. A route-one pass was met by the Loughborough number 9, and with only the goalie left to beat, she could only tamely prod towards goal. Another long ball forward was this time misjudged by the Birmingham keeper, but once again Loughborough failed to take their chances, as Birmingham’s number 5 slid in with a perfectly timed challenge that saved the keeper’s blushes.
Birmingham also started to show more intent going forward, and after a sustained period of pressure, they had the goal to show for it. The ball was bundled back to the edge of the box, and Laura Cooper smashed it with her right foot into the top corner: as Alan Partridge once said, she must ‘have a foot like a traction engine’. It was certainly a goal that deserved to be the difference between the sides at the end of what was a tightly contested game of football.
The Birmingham defence provided the solid foundations on which the attacking players could go forward with an increasing sense of confidence and in greater numbers. Ultimately, Birmingham must be happy with an excellent win and clean sheet, that allows them to start pushing their way up the table.
Player of the Match: No.5