Brighton & Hove Albion Women 1 Birmingham City Women 3
Bottom of the league Birmingham City stunned Brighton with a resilient performance at the People’s Pension Stadium, in Crawley, this afternoon (Saturday 23 April).
A late brace from Birmingham defender Louise Quinn propelled the visitors to their second league win in what will probably be a consolation victory as relegation looms.
The Seagulls were outmatched by the visitor’s mettle and desire as they became the first side to concede three goals against Birmingham this season.
Veatriki Sarri opened the scoring for the visitors after nine minutes, charging down a botched interception by the Brighton defence, then facing a one on one with Megan Walsh, before converting in off the far post.
Brighton responded well, almost grabbing an equaliser moments later. Emily Ramsey had to stretch to deny Lee Geum-min’s curling effort from just inside the box. Then good link up play from Aileen Whelan and Emma Kullberg down the left flank forced a goal-line block by the City keeper.
In spite of their confidence going forward, Brighton were heavily pressured by the visitors’ attack. Danique Kerkdijk picked up an early yellow card in the 23rd minute from a desperate challenge as the league’s lowest scorers had Albion scrambling.
The midfield battle grew more and more physical towards the end of the first half, with each side grappling to control the space, though few fouls were called by referee Elizabeth Simms, prompting some of the home fans to boo.
Birmingham’s half-time lead was largely due to a remarkable 45 minutes from their keeper, smartly tipping Lee’s close-range strike over. Kayleigh Green then hit the bar from the resulting corner only seconds before the whistle.
Albion brought on Danielle Carter for Whelan at half time. Maintaining their lion’s share of possession allowed them to make intricate passing moves into the final third, though the home side still lacked the hardened initiative that gave Birmingham their goal.
Each side made a substitution shortly after the hour. Jade Pennock made way for Libby Smith, who injected more energy into the away side’s attack, while Albion brought on Maisie Symonds to replace Lee who had been a key target player for the Seagulls.
Brighton rotated Kerkdijk out of defence for substitute Emma Koivisto but as the game approached the final stages the home side struggled to control the ball.
Louise Quinn sealed the win with a header in the 75th minute. Birmingham won a free kick after good work from Smith. The initial effort was cleared but Sarri rescued her poor free kick and sent in a second cross which found her teammate who fired it past Walsh.
Albion almost responded through Inessa Kaagman, the midfielder’s effort from distance just pushed on to the bar by Ramsey.
The home side’s persistence paid off in the 84th minute. A loose ball made its way to Julia Zigiotti who found the net with a thunderous strike in the centre of the box.
But once again Birmingham exhibited hunger and determination for a third goal. Sloppy defending from a corner resulted in the ball falling to Quinn whose deflected strike crushed the host’s fleeting chances of a comeback and taking Birmingham’s top scorer’s goal tally to five.
The defeat means that Brighton stay in sixth place in the table. The side’s aim to beat last season’s points tally of 27 will continue as they play Manchester City away next Saturday (30 April). For Birmingham, the win gives them slight hope for an unlikely survival. They are due to play their next game at home to Chelsea on Sunday 1 May.
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