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Birmingham City Ladies 0 Bristol Academy 5

Posted: Mon 14 Jul 2014
Author: Chris Quinn

Birmingham City Ladies FC

Image by: Craig Aldwinckle

Blues Ladies’ FA WSL Continental Cup hopes are over after losing 5-0 to Bristol Academy.

A hat-trick from Spaniard Natalia Pablos Sanchon and a brace from Natasha Harding gave the visitors an emphatic, if slightly flattering result, to secure three points and ensure they leapfrog Blues into second place in Group Three. 

However, neither side will progress to the semi-final as Arsenal secured the best runner-up position having amassed 12 points in Group One.

In what was effectively a dead-rubber contest, Blues made six changes to the side which lined up against Notts County last week with Emily Simpkins, Cristina Torkildsen, Hannah George, Melissa Lawley, Abbeyleigh Stringer and Meaghan Sargeant all included from the start.

Within five minutes, Blues had a chance to take an early lead when Jo Potter – who was named captain and celebrated being called up to the England squad this week – took aim from 35 yards having spotted former Blues ‘keeper Mary Earps off her line. Her strike seemed destined for the top corner, but nestled on the roof of the net.

Yet five minutes later, Blues were behind. After attempted clearances caused confusion in the home side’s box, a loose ball was picked up by Harding and she steered an effort into the far corner and past ‘keeper Rebecca Spencer from six yards out.

Eleven minutes later, the hosts should have been level when Welsh international Hannah Keryakoplis got free down the right-hand side and delivered a devilish ball across the face of Earps’ goal – however, the onrushing Lawley met it on the bounce at the back post and put her effort over the bar.

In the 28th minute, Bristol hit the woodwork for the first time when a right-wing cross fell invitingly to Nikki Watts on the edge of the area; her effort was tipped onto the bar though by a full-stretch Spencer.

That was a warning sign of what was to come, though, as Bristol doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark. Spencer’s goal kick was met by the head of Grace McCatty and Pablos Sanchon latched on to the loose ball over the Blues defence to loft it over the onrushing Blues ‘keeper.

Seven minutes later, the result was all but sealed when Harding scored her second of the game. A superb ball from Laura Del Rio put the striker through and she retained her composure to round Spencer and slot in to an empty net.

Blues looked for a way back in to the game before the half-time break, with Emily Westwood’s free-kick drawing a good save from Earps.

At the interval, Chelsea Weston and Remi Allen replaced Potter and Westwood but three minutes before the hour mark, Bristol notched their fourth of the day.

A perfectly-weighted flick pass from Harding released Pablos Sanchon and, with the Blues defence seemingly having a siesta, the Spanish striker calmly rolled home her second.

In a bid to turn the tide, captain Karen Carney was introduced as a substitute for Lawley, but four minutes later the visitors had the opportunity to grab their fifth goal.

A deep cross from the right-hand side to the back post caught out Aoife Mannion and as the defender tried to clear the ball; her swinging leg upended Pablos Sanchon, resulting in a penalty. Despite Harding and Pablos Sanchon both close to a hat-trick, Del Rio took the spot-kick, but was foiled by Spencer who dived to her left to palm away the effort.

The former Frankfurt striker tried to make amends immediately afterwards, but hit the crossbar from 30 yards with Spencer again at full stretch.

The woodwork was still shaking with ten minutes remaining when Watts curled a left-footed effort towards goal – only to hit the crossbar for the third time of the day.

Deep in to stoppage time, Bristol got their fifth of a clinical afternoon as Pablos Sanchon secured the match ball. Having latched on to an under-hit backpass from Mannion, the Spaniard showed all the confidence her earlier strikes had given her to loft a ball over Spencer from 25 yards – hitting the underside of the crossbar to add to the aesthetic nature of the strike.

The two sides meet again on Wednesday as Blues now turn all of their attentions to remaining at the summit of the FA WSL.

For more information and reaction, head over to

Blues XI: Spencer; Torkildsen, Mannion, Sargeant, George; Potter (c) (Allen, 46), Simpkins; Lawley (Carney, 60), Stringer, Keryakoplis; Westwood (Weston, 46).
Unused subs: Weston, Harrop, Allen, Carney, Moore.
Bookings: Simpkins

Bristol Academy XI: Earps, Dykes, Yorston, McCatty, Pablos Sanchon, Watts (Vega Leandro, 83) Del Rio, Ingle, James, Rose, Harding (Brown, 70).
Unused subs: Matthews, Vindell, Cleverly.
Goals: Harding (10, 37), Pablos Sanchon (30, 57, 90)

Referee: Dumitru-Ravel Cheosiaua

Attendance: 331
20140627 Season Ticket context 2