December 19, 2021 by Stephen L Wright
It will have been a long, long road for Bluenoses travelling back to Brum, having watched the team put in a performance which, on the strength of the last two games they thought was consigned to the past.
The near draw with Man City and the fight back against London City Lionesses had imbued in supporters and players alike a joy they had not felt for a long time. New coach Darren Carter had done something that his predecessor Scott Booth hadn’t managed to achieve; he’d got the players to believe in themselves.
So to today’s tie at Leicester. From the off the hosts had the better of the game; gone was the aggressive, hassling play which Blues had demonstrated in the last two games. In truth, they showed no heart for the win; in came standing off, giving the Foxes time and space and leaving themselves no option but to hustle back to defend their area.
Leicester’s first goal probably had a touch of fortune about it, but to take nothing from Sophie Howard she should have been closed down. Blues just deflated from that point until five minutes from the interval when they finally started playing some good joined up football and creating chances in the Leicester area. They also used an additional six minutes of added time to the same effect; but it was 1-0 to the hosts at the break.
Blues came out battling after the restart and we really thought it was going to be ‘a game of two halves’ with them casting of what had happened in the first and taking the game to Leicester; but it wasn’t to be as the latter retrieved the advantage; and that’s how it stayed, with the coup de grace delivered by Sam Tierney.
The statistics, courtesy of BBC Sport, say it all:
What then do we take from this? Were the last two games just flukes? Were we led into a false sense of security? I don’t think it was either of those; rather, I think it was this game; it was a key fixture and I think the game got the better of the players. I don’t doubt that I’ll get turned on for that; accused of making excuses for a dismal performance by what is after all a group of players ‘unfit’ for the WSL. I stick by that statement because I can’t see any other explanation.
Next up is Arsenal at home on 9th January. Now, I predicted that Blues would comfortably win today’s match. Thankfully, I didn’t make a Lineker style promise if that didn’t happen! Seriously, as I said, I stand by my statement on why the players played the way they did today. I don’t for one minute think Blues will win the next game, but I believe they’ll give Arsenal something to think about; just like they did with Man City.
A very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Healthy New Year to you and yours. I’ll be back before the Arsenal game.
Stay safe and…