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Arsenal Women v Birmingham, 23 September. The most satisfying of goals.

by Andrew Crawshaw

There is something supremely satisfying about a 90th minute goal to win a match, particularly when the opposition have been wasting time throughout the second half.

Arsenal started their WSL season with a hard fought win against a side that always seem to cause us problems.  On a sunny afternoon at Borehamwood in front of 1400 or so mainly Arsenal supporters Pedro Losa started with the following team

  • GK – Sari Van Veenendaal
  • RB – new signing Jessica Samuelsson
  • CBs – new signing Josephine Hemming and Heather O’Reilly
  • LB – Dominique Janssen
  • MF – Leah Williamson, Jordan Nobbs ©, Danielle Van de Donk
  • Forwards – Beth Mead, Jodie Taylor, Danielle Carter

Birmingham

GK Ann-Katrin Berger, Paige Williams, Meghan Sargeant, Jessica Carter, Kerys Harrop, Ellen White, Andrine Hegerberg, Abbeyleigh Stringer, Marisa Ewers, Emma Follis, Aoife Mannion

Arsenal started very brightly, an early Nobbs shot went wide left, then an excellent chance for Jodie Taylor from a through ball from Beth Mead but surprisingly Jodie missed right, the whole of the Arsenal support expected that one to be in the net.

A couple of minutes later Jodie hit the left post (another big miss).  Then in the 12th minute Nobbs was bowled over but her free kick was straight at Berger who made an easy catch.  So far the whole of the play had been in the Birmingham half and we should have been two goals to the good and possibly three.

With their first foray into our half Birmingham made us pay for our prifligacy.  A simple ball over the top. Ellen White spun past out two central defenders, beat them for pace and calmly slotted the ball past Van Veenendaal.  That’s how you finish!  Easy-peasy.

Min 20 we had another free kick in a promising area but again easy for their keeper.  Min 22 we had another gilt-edged opportunity, their keeper was robbed in her area, a quick pass to the left and a snap cross but the ball was behind Danni Carter who couldn’t get a shot off before crowded out by the Birmingham defence.

Min 37 and at last we got our act together, a good through ball to Jodie Taylor who had now got her radar working and we were level.

The second half with Birmingham being more aggressive, they had a good attack which our defence managed to repel.  Arsenal then came more into the game again regaining their superiority from the first half.  A thunderous shot came back of the LH post then Danni Carter with a rather scuffed shot that was only just wide of the right hand post.

In Min 60 there was a carbon copy goal for Birmingham, another ball over the top and Ellen White again too quick – 2 – 1 to them.

Birmingham then seemed to be content to play to hold what they had.  Their timewasting became more and more pronounced as did their fouling.  Jordan Nobbs kept asking the referee why they were not being given cards for persistent fouling.

Min 62 Nobbs had another effort just wide left and Min 65 Henning was given a yellow card (I honestly have no idea what for, I didn’t see a significant foul).

Pedro Losa changed things in Min 68 with Lisa Evans coming on for Dani Carter (who hadn’t had a particularly good game) and Louise Quinn on in Central defence for Dominique Janssen.

Minute 80 had what we all thought would be the defining moment, Ellen White again was found with a ball over the top but this time a despairing attempt of a tackle from Louise Quinn caught the Birmingham player and the linesman immediately waved.  It looked like a foul to me and I knew that she was going to get a red card and so it transpired.  Ten minutes to go a team wasting time and defending a one goal lead resolutely what chance did we have?

The resulting free kick was dealt with easily and we made a last substitution Jessica Samuelson being replaced by Emma Mitchell.

But our women are made of stern stuff and continued to pour forward even if a lot of the final balls weren’t terribly good.  In Min 85 substitute Lisa Evans was fed a lovely through ball, danced through the Birmingham defence with it and produced a great finish giving Berger no chance.

Suddenly the Birmingham time wasting stopped, but not their fouling with the referee finally showing yellow cards to two Birmingham players.  As their defending became more desperate an 89th minute cross from the right hand side was handled by a Birmingham defender and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Up stepped Jodie Taylor and her penalty was delicious, hard and low to the right hand of the net.  Again no chance for Berger and what looked like a defeat with ten minutes to go was a win at full time.

Somehow Arsenal had managed to scrape a win when most supporters thought we were going to lose. We always struggle against Birmingham who always play the same. Defend deep, shorten the game by time wasting, constant niggling fouls, long balls hoping that one of their forwards can beat the defenders. Today it only just failed.

In truth we should have scored four goals in the first half and been out of sight. We will have to be much sharper next weekend against Manchester City.

Well done Arsenal.

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4 comments to Arsenal Women v Birmingham, 23 September. The most satisfying of goals.

  • Goonermikey

    I was driving on the day of the Arsenal Ladies game so was listening to Radio 5 live. The sports report went like this:

    “there are two women’s super league games today, so over to Man City to here how they are getting on.”
    “Man City are brilliant blah, blah, back to the studio”
    “there was also a game this morning which Chelsea Ladies won 6-0, over to our reporter to hear about that”
    “Chelsea were brilliant blah, blah, back to the studio.”

    So would we get a report from the Arsenal Ladies game or just an update on the score………we didn’t even get an acknowledgment that they were playing. The presenter merely went to a different sport altogether.

    So at least it’s consistent, the BBC bias is is against all our teams………….I accept that among women’s football Chelsea and Man City are probably the best around at the moment (where were the media when AFC were winning it year after year?) but to actually acknowledge that there were two games in progress and have a report from one and not even mention the other is downright pathetic.

  • Gord

    Thanks Andrew.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    @Goonermikey

    The top three of the Wo en’s Super League Division one are going to be Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal but not ,I hope, in that order. Liverpool and Birmingham are likely to be in positions four and five. Each of the top three should beat the bottom five teams comfortably as happened with City and Chelsea on Sunday. Beating Liverpool and Birmingham is likely to be harder as shown by our narrow win. The games between the top three are likely to be the matches that are the title deciders which is why our away game at City next weekend is vital.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Great work , Andrew , thanks.

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