Scrappy Defeat Denies Birmingham Promotion Chance
Birmingham skidded to a defeat against title rivals Worcester in a muddy and fiery game at the Metchley Playing fields.
Going into the match against top of the table Worcester, Birmingham would’ve been hopeful of a win that could’ve seen them close the six-point gap to the leaders to three, with a game in hand.
The two teams may not, however, have counted on conditions for this fixture. The Metchley Mud took all thought of crisp passing from the game and it started as it was throughout for both sides; hard-fought, lacking fluidity and full of big challenges.
Both teams struggled to make a real impact going forward, Birmingham striker Holly Grims creating the only real chance of the first twenty minutes after she collided with the opposition keeper. The ball ran loose and Sophie Grimson was unlucky to see her chip just pass over the bar.
It was to be more mistakes than inspiration that would define this tie. Unfortunately for the Birmingham side it was centre back Rachel Masen, who otherwise put in a commanding and composed performance, who missed her clearance, allowing the Worcester striker nip in to tap home the opening goal.
Shortly after, a Birmingham clearing header from defence was met 30 yards out by an opposition midfielder, Katie Chesters. The subsequent volley seemed more carefully crafted than the statue of David and Old Joe combined. A pure strike that both sped and took an eternity to reach the top corner. Even Chesters seemed dumbstruck by it, until her teammates swamped her in celebration. Worcester led 2-0.
Worcester hit a 3rd before half time. A scrappy long ball up to the front wasn’t cleared. Pinball ensued in the box. Eventually the ball fell to the feet of the opposition striker who found the corner. The Lions came in 3-0 down at half time.
After the intermission, Birmingham seemed to be on a quest to get back in the game. Just two minutes after half time Emily Stretton’s shot was fumbled by the keeper and Beth Hawton was quick to tap home the rebound.
A Birmingham comeback was not to be however. Worcester sat deep and tackled very hard. Amidst the mud and the merciless crunching defending Birmingham were unable to create any other real chances in the second half.
With twenty minutes left Kelly Elks was introduced at left wing and showed good pace and energy. In the 92nd minute she was rewarded as her ambitious strike from the corner of the box looped over the keeper. This consolation goal wouldn’t affect the outcome.
The Worcester girls were jubilant upon the full-time whistle. Now nine points clear of Birmingham and with only the weakest teams in the league to play they look a certainty for promotion.
The Lions can console themselves that they attempted to play clean football, whilst the visiting side played a more rugged, pragmatic style, perhaps more accurately meeting the muddy conditions. They will look to consolidate their grip on second place with a win away against Worcester next week.