Group standings at the start of the day meant only a win would be enough for David Parker’s side to progress to the semi-final, which began to look likely following Rachel Williams’ early strike. However, Lincoln’s point ensures their qualification to the last four following Carla Cantrell’s equaliser.
Blues made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Everton in midweek and lined up in unfamiliar fashion. Mary Earps and Emily Westwood were recalled to the side, with Marie Hourihan and Kirsty Linnett dropping to the substitute’s bench. That led to a slight reshuffle as captain Laura Bassett moved into midfield with Jo Potter slotting in just behind Rachel Williams in a 4-4-1-1 system.
The game got off to a pulsating start, with both teams keen to try and grab an early advantage.
After chances for both sides early on, it was Blues’ fans who were cheering first. In just the third minute, a poor goal kick by visiting stopper Karen Bardsley was nodded back in the direction it came from by Emily Westwood, finding the feet of Jo Potter who threaded an inch-perfect through ball for Williams to latch on to. She kept her calm to slot past Bardsley with consummate ease to give the hosts a perfect start.
20 minutes later, Blues were forced into an early change after Rachel Unitt went down unchallenged in the centre of the pitch. She bravely battled on for a couple of minutes, but was soon replaced by young defender Hannah George.
The visitors began to have a growing influence on the game as the half went on and the lively Jess Clarke was impressing on both flanks as she went in search for the ball.
Therefore, it was no surprise when Lincoln levelled in the 38th minute. Following a good spell of possession, Lady Imps midfielder Remi Allen burst into the box and her pace took her past George, whose pressure was enough to send Allen tumbling and Lincoln were awarded a penalty kick.
Allen took the kick herself, but was denied by a wonderful save by Earps who dived to her left to parry the effort wide at full-stretch. Unfortunately, Cantrell was quickest to the rebound and rifled home to draw the teams level at 1-1.
Blues pushed to regain the advantage before the half-time whistle with Williams, Potter and Chelsea Weston all having efforts on goal denied.
Isobel Christiansen then had a golden chance to put Blues ahead after Bardsley sliced her clearance. The ball fell to the midfielder, but her first-time effort trickled wide of the post as the half-time whistle sounded.
Linnett replaced Melissa Lawley at the interval as Blues were sent out with an obvious emphasis on attack.
Six minutes into the second half, George atoned for her earlier error as she made a sensational last-ditch challenge on Cantrell, who thought she was clean through on goal.
Blues were then somehow denied on the hour mark. A right-wing cross found Williams at the back post, she checked inside and fired towards goal, only for a deflection to push the ball into the path of Linnett. With the goal gaping just a few yards out, Emily Roberts flew in to make a stunning clearance and prevent Linnett from converting the easiest of chances.
With Blues pushing forward, Clarke was continuing to impress on the counter attack for Lincoln and she fired wide when released with 13 minutes remaining.
The hosts continued to pile on the pressure as Potter fired wide and Weston was denied by a brilliant full-stretch Bardsley save from a curling 25-yard free-kick.
As the game drew to a close Williams’ stinging effort was well held by Bardsley and the Lincoln ‘keeper did well to backtrack and tip over a Weston cross that looked set to loop over her into the goal.
In a final onslaught, Blues launched a plethora of long balls into the Lincoln box, but when Bardsley dropped a routine catch, Blues were unable to force the loose ball over the line and the visitors held on to a point that sees them into the semi-finals.
Birmingham City Ladies: Earps; Weston, Harrop, Westwood, Unitt (George, 23); Christiansen (Wilkinson, 65), Moore, Bassett (c), Lawley (Linnett, 46); Potter; Williams.
Unused subs: Hourihan, Torkildsen, Wilkinson, Haines, Simpkins.
Goals: Williams (3)
Bookings: George (79)
Lincoln Ladies: Bardsley, Bradley, Stoney (c) (Horwood, 55), Hamilton (Sargeant, 86), Cantrell, Allen, Clarke, Walton, Turner, Martha Harris, Roberts (Harris, 69).
Unused subs: Megan Harris, Kay, Cresswell.
Goals: Cantrell (38)