October 18, 2020 by Stephen L Wright
I can’t be the only one who was suffering from déja vu in the first ten minutes of the game. It was February in Solihull, Bristol were dominating and Blues were stuck in their eighteen yard box with no options of getting the ball away. When they did it soon came back with the hosts playing some lovely one touch football. What was going on? This wasn’t the game plan.
Then, on the stroke of the second quarter, Sarah Mayling whipped in a corner kick and Rachel Corsie headed in for her first goal for the club.
This was the settler and, from then on, Blues showed the shape and the play that we have come to expect under Carla Ward’s management. They started putting short passes together and kept Bristol largely in their own half. As the half hour passed, Mayling used her strength to take the ball to the Bristol goal line, pulled it back and Molly Green tapped in for her first league goal for the club.
Bristol lost their initial drive and Blues capitalised on it. Once again, I was impressed with Jamie-Lee Napier who moved around the pitch linking up from back to front. Rebecca Holloway played high, as we have come to see her do. Connie Scofield, given a starting place, switched sides to keep the flow going. And that was the story of the first half.
Soon after the restart, Bristol were again in the Blues’ half and testing Hampton, who made an easy save. The ball travelled back down the field at the feet of her team mates and the Bristol defence was put under pressure. Scofield prodded the ball to Claudia Walker who curled a sublime shot into the top bin. Her confidence knows no bounds.
Two minutes later, Christie Murray appeared to catch Aimee Palmer’s left ankle and Palmer went down. She received treatment for ten minutes before being stretchered off. We wish her a speedy recovery.
Play resumed and a Birmingham corner in the 64th minute was curled in by Mayling. Walker got a boot to the ball but Baggaley gathered. The referee pointed to the penalty spot. Murray had been fouled and so she stepped up and converted.
In the last half hour of actual time it was largely Blues with the odd chance by Bristol.
The time needed to see to Palmer meant that twelve minutes of added time were called by the referee. In the 96th minute, Abbi Grant received a second yellow and thus a red card. Her challenge on Yana Daniels was one more of head than heart. It was unnecessary at that stage and far too rough in any case.
The final six minutes were somewhat reminiscent of the opening ones. Bristol found their second wind and could quite easily have scored but for fierce defending and the cool head of Hampton.
A third win on the spin, then, and a third clean sheet. Carla Ward’s philosophy continues to pay dividends. And something else that we’ve enjoyed seeing is Ward in her coach’s box encouraging, instructing and cajoling her players. Such a change and breath of fresh air compared to her predecessor.
We go into an International break so the next game will be on 8th November at home to West Ham. Until then, stay safe and…