Notts County Ladies give Birmingham the Blues!   Leave a comment

Notts County Ladies took top spot in their group in the Continental Cup after beating high flying Birmingham City Ladies 2-0 at Solihull Moors. In a tight game with few clear cut chances Notts came away with all three points after goals from Jess Clarke and Rachel Corsie deep in to the second half.

Here’s the game in words and (lots of) pictures:

With the holiday season in full swing one or two of the Notts coaching staff were away sunning themselves in foreign climes so the warm-ups before the clash against Birmingham were taken by Mr Passmoor. It appeared that to achieve this onerous task Rick consulted with a new app on his mobile phone; ‘Football Manager 2014’. I’m not sure Dunia looks too impressed.

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Number 5 Sophie Bradley keeps an eye on Rick’s dodgy warm-up routine.

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The crowd was plumping up as kick-off approached with the ‘Stalwarts’ already seated. The photographer pictured was later arrested for crimes against dress sense.

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Rick Passmoor failed to install the ‘Recognize Your Own Players’ module in his ‘Football Manager 2014’ app and can be seen here introducing himself all over again to Carly Telford.

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The Blues players made the County Ladies wait in the tunnel for some minutes before joining them for the walk out on to the pitch. But this cunning plan backfired as it gave time for Passmoor to introduce himself to the rest of his team.

The game commenced with immediate pressure from Notts which resulted in an early corner taken by 14 Sophie Walton.

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Walton swings the ball in to the opposition box and….

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… the whole of the County midfield and attack compete for the ball. Birmingham keeper Spencer is in there somewhere too and manages to get a first on the ball to clear the early danger.

The first half was a tight affair.  Both teams struggled to carve out any clear cut chances with both defenses dominating.

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Birmingham win an early free kick….. it flies wide to the right of Telford’s post.

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The Notts defense let Hannah Keryakoplis in at the far post but the Blues player heads Birmingham’s best chance of the half over the bar.

Dunia Susi weaved her way through the Blues defense on several occasions only to have shots blocked. On this occasion keeper Spencer gets to the ball first but her diving tackle sends the ball spinning invitingly to Sophie walton on the edge of the box…….

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….. who side foots the ball well wide with the goal keeper stranded. The anguish shows on her face.

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Jess Clarke played almost all of the first half out on the right wing, where she was hounded and chased by the Blues’ left back and more than often double teamed. She was obviously Birmingham’s major concern and they did well to keep the England striker quite for almost all of the first half.

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Captain Sophie Bradley was a Rock in defense and worked tirelessly to snuff out any threat from Birmingham’s star striker Karen Carney.

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Another County cross battled for by Corsie and Whelan.

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New signing 18 Danielle Brogan takes a throw-in under the watchful gaze of Rick (app-man) Passmoor.  Brogan joined Notts County during the mid-season break . The defender had previously played for Sydney FC, where she was captain, and this game against Birmingham was her debut in English football.

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Dunia Susi fires in one of her trade-mark shots from the left flank.

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And….. I’ve absolutely no idea what’s going on here, but its a fetching new hair style for Dunia!

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The first half continued in a stale-mate. County did look a little ring-rusty after the break. the work-rate was as high as ever but the passing didn’t seem to be quite as sharp or as inventive as normal for long periods during the first 45 minutes.

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Jess Clarke only has eyes for the ball.

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Desiree Scott was a Canadian dynamo in the middle of the park again.

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Dunia Susi showing the grace and balance that enables her to send defenders the wrong way and leave them flat-footed to boot.

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Gotta love that colour co-ordinated hair band. The Birmingham Manager looks on and wonders where Rick got that Warm-up app.

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Susi suddenly switches sports and tries volley ball. There was a shout for a penalty by the Blues players after this incident in the first half, but I’m not sure the referee had a very good view of it! 🙂

The first ended 0-0 and that was a fair reflection of the game thus far. A lot of huffing and puffing but no real penetration. Birmingham looked sharper and County hunted them down all over the park showing sporadic flashes of attacking guile but to no avail.

The girls trooped off to the dressing room and Rick Passmoor consulted his ‘Half Time Talk’ app on his mobile.

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“Hmmm, lets see here… 2-0 down, 1-0 down,.. ah here it is…. ‘0-0 half time team talk’.”

The second half started with Birmingham looking increasingly comfortable on the ball and retaining possession well, making Notts chase them down. The worry was that after several weeks off Notts might just start to tire towards the end of the game.

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Katie Hoyle puts pressure on a Blues player. Her tireless running helped keep the Birmingham possession in their own half for large periods of the game.

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But as the half wore on Birmingham’s control of the game began to extend ever further up the pitch and in to the County half, with Carly Telford being called in to action more and more often.

Were Notts going to capitulate late in the game? Had their legs gone? Did they have a second wind?

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At some point during the second half (no idea when as I spent the whole time staring down the lens of a camera) Jess Clarke had come in off the wing to take up a more central position, to great effect. here she is marauding and forcing Becky Spencer in to a last gasp save at her feet.

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But more often it was Birmingham applying the pressure late in the second half. Here the Blues striker tries unconventional tactics by forward rolling in to the 6 yard box – but Bradley and Corsie are not to be fooled by such antics and clear the danger.

And then this happened……. Emily Roberts had not long come on as a substitute when  she was played a through-ball by Dunia Susi just outside the 18 yard box….

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….. look at the look on Emily’s face; it says ‘Shit, I’m in on goal here with just one player to beat, if I slip this through to Clarkey we go one nil up.’ …….

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….. Emily Roberts slips the ball past the last defender and in to the path of the on rushing Clarkey…….

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….. Jess Clarke collects the pass from Roberts…. only the keeper to beat……

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… Becky Spencer, who’d had an outstanding game, commits way too soon and goes to ground…… Jess Clarke lifts the ball deftly over her and toward the empty Birmingham net……

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……. and Jess Clarke’s face is saying; ‘Yep, that’s how I do THAT!’

1 – 0 NOTTS COUNTY!

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Clarke celebrates with Roberts. Susi is hugged by Scott. We’re all happy.

And Birmingham are suddenly on the back foot with precious little time left. About 10 minutes left there abouts.

But it’s Notts back on the attack again shortly after the restart.

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Desiree Scott goes on a mazey run across the front of the 18 yard box and is brought down…….

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County take their time despite the referee urging them to ‘get on with it’…… they set up the well rehearsed ‘edge of the box free kick routine. It features Jess Clarke and Caitlin Friend standing over the ball to block the keeper’s view of it and Rachel Corsie who is designated striker of the free kick…… we’ve seen this set-up a few times already this season. Unfortunately the ball has never seen the back of the net as a result though. …..

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Clarke and Friend peel away from the ball as Corsie strikes it…….

GOAL! …. 2-0 NOTTS!

Corsie whips the ball in low in to the far corner of the net!

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The devastated Birmingham keeper Spencer is beaten for the second time in as many minutes.

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Corsie is off to celebrate with the side-line.

Notts are 2-0 up and the announcer declares that there will be 4 minutes of extra time. The Pies play out a slightly nervy last 4 minutes but Birmingham have had the stuffing knocked out of them and have little left to offer.

The final whistle goes and Notts go top of the group.

Carly celebrates with a fine catch!

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Caitlin Friend wins ‘Cheesy Grin of the Day’ competition right at the death. Mr Passmoor can be seen looking for his mobile phone so he can give the victory speech.

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Emily Roberts relaxes and contemplates her fantastic defense splitting pass that set County on their way to victory.

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Inconsolable the Birmingham City Ladies players are rallied by their manager, who promises to steal Rick Passmoor’s ‘Football Manager 2014’ app.

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The County manager gives his post match interview……

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… but is lost for words until his mobile phone is returned to him.

Drew Smith Photography (c) BT Sports (c) FA WSL (c)

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