The referee Thomas Bramall encouraged the players to take water breaks whenever there was a break in the action, on what must have been an uncomfortable afternoon on the sun trap of the pitch.
Blues had the heroics of 19 year old Sophie Baggaley to thank for keeping the score at 0-0 during the first half, but after the break, the visitors effectively bossed the game, as Remi Allen and Jo Potter impressively took control of the midfield, while the ‘Lady Pies’ three pronged attack force of England internationals: Rachel Yankey, Jess Clarke and Ellen White, backed up by Leanne Crichton, barely got a look in, as they were so well marshaled by the Birmingham defence.
It was the seventh minute before either keeper got a meaningful touch of the ball when Carly Telford cut out Melissa Lawley’s knock back across the face of her goal from Jo Potter’s right wing corner.
At the other end Lawley tried making some headway down the right flank, with Jessica Carter and Abbey-Leigh Stringer in support, but Amy Turner was in an uncompromising mood covering the left back berth for the home side.
Sophie Bradley-Auckland battled gamely for Notts in defence, heading clear from Lawley’s left wing free kick and intercepting the danger by getting across to thwart Charlie Wellings, after some neat interplay between Emily Westwood and Freda Ayisi had opened up a gap on the edge of the Pies area.
Moments later, County were on the attack again when Yankey rolled the ball forward into the path of White, twelve yards from goal, and Westwood needed to get a touch to cut out a cross to Clark in the six yard box.
Birmingham cleared the corner ball out of their goalmouth, but it fell nicely for Bradley-Auckland twenty yards from goal and she shot first time, only to be thwarted by Baggaley had had anticipated the situation well and got across to make a save.
Baggaley’s prowess between the posts seemed to have given Birmingham a boost and they finished the first half strongly. Potter won the ball on the halfway line as James hesitated and ran forward unchallenged before trying her luck from 25 yards, but her effort was stopped by Telford.
County’s captain Laura Bassett lost the ball to Charlie Wellings twenty yards from her own goal, but even with Ayisi and Lawley up alongside her, Blues couldn’t find the final touch.
The visitors looked the better of the two sides after the interval, while County seemed to lose their way a bit in the heat.
Carter hooked a great pass out to Lawley on the left wing, which Notts cleared at the second attempt, but Jo Potter latched onto the loose ball and fizzed a shot just past the post.
Ayisi was getting into the game more and more, causing County all sorts of problems through the left channel and making herself available on the end of set pieces and she was close to finding the opening goal when she got her head onto the end of Carter’s long throw, but couldn’t quite direct the ball on target.
County tried to regain their first half momentum, but Blues defence were comfortably dealing with everything and anything their hosts could throw at them. And as if to demonstrate how well the Birmingham backline were playing, Notts manager Rick Passmoor withdrew Yankey and Crichton, two integral players in the home sides attacking diamond formation and sent on Alvi Luik and Aileen Whelan.
As the clock ticked down, the home side had to commit players forward and defend with the minimum amount of players, which is always a risky option, but the visitors had worked hard for their deserved one goal lead and regardless of how tired and weary they must have been, but with big stout hearts, they dug in for a cause most dear to them.
Even though they survived a scare right at the death, when Luik delivered a telling cross to White, but Baggaley had positioned herself well again and grasped the ball tightly.
The away fans broke into song again, signalling to their team that they had just about kept right on ’til the end of the road and the full time whistle was imminent.
Tommy Bramall added three minutes of stoppage time, but County had nothing left to give and Blues held out to claim the three points.
FT: Lady Pies 0 v Blues Ladies 1