This game was an exciting one for Birmingham, and a chance to regain some points from their unfortunate loss against Durham back in December. First team coach Annie Miller commented before the game how she believed Birmingham would be able to put in a good performance despite Manchester having some England players on their team. And indeed Birmingham were in a great starting position, second in the league, whereas Manchester were in 5th.
Birmingham dominated the first quarter. Lizzie Hampshere’s two goals gave Birmingham an early lead of 8-3. Birmingham’s attack looked strong, whilst their defence was resolute, pressuring Manchester as soon as a player had possession, sliding onto the attacking player and doubling up, forcing the player to draw out. Goal keeper Harriet Side also put in a strong performance.
The second quarter saw Katie Jackson score the first goal, bringing the score to 9-3. Manchester started to get a little sloppy at this point. Several payers were pulled up for dangerous moves such as swiping and the crowd saw one Manchester player sin-binned for her defence efforts. The final goal of the quarter was scored by Alice Horler, bringing the score at half time to 11-3.
The third quarter saw Taya Jackson score two goals for Birmingham in addition to Claudia Button and Laura Beaman, which helped to secure the home team a convincing win against Manchester. The visitors really weren’t marking their players well at this point which helped Birmingham increase their lead. The third quarter ended with the score 19-3 to Birmingham.
The fourth quarter saw Manchester pull it back a bit, bringing the score to 19-7. But it was too little too late as they couldn’t hope to bring the score up to a draw with only 15 minutes remaining. This substantial goal difference will help Birmingham towards the end of the season.
Both teams played well, especially under the conditions as it was very dark and cold during the game. The Birmingham players performed well, although no one particularly stood out above the rest, as the team worked so well together and supported each other throughout the game. It was great to see such team spirit and support throughout the game, and I’m sure they appreciated the support from the spectators who braved the cold to cheer on the girls.