Bristol v Birmingham Conti Cup group stage

It was really a game of 2 halves yesterday between Bristol and Birmingham with Bristol dominating the first one and birmingham dominating the second one. A fascinating encounter tactically speaking with Bristol having an unusual set-up that Birmingham had trouble dealing for the whole first half and then made a substitution at half time that took care of the problem hence dominating the second half.

So Bristol set-up in a 3-1-3-3- system, something I hadn’t seen for a while in football probably since the Cruyff era at Barcelona or maybe recently used by Guardiola to accomodate Fabregas and their lack of defenders. Chamberlain in goal, a back three of James, Rose and Matthews ( 2 full backs and a center back ), one holding midfield, Windell or Fishlock alternating, 3 midfield players Dykes, Windell or Fishlock, and a front 3 of Lawley, Heatherson and Watts.

On the opposite side Birmingham was set as a classical if a bit unbalanced 4-4-2 with Hourihan preferred to Spencer in goal, Weston Bassett Westwood and Unitt at the back. Potter holding the midfield Christiansen on the right, Harrop on the left and Carney in the playmaker withdrawn position. Up front Aluko on the right wing and Williams at center forward.

Offensively Bristol offered a lot of movement and solutions to the ball holder as they were very compact in the first half. Using Dykes and Lawley on the right wing to double up against Unitt while using Watts well on the left wing from long cross balls. Fishlock dictating play from midfield to great effect orientating from her central midfield position. Defensively , Dykes would tuck in alongside James creating a back 4 when Birmingham was attacking, most of the game Jemma Rose was left marking Rachel Williams one on one and clearing up all the long balls that came her way.

Birmingham mixed it up a bit more in term of passing with sometimes build up from the back and direct balls down the channels for Aluko and Williams to run at. They created a few chances but had trouble on the left wing with Harrop not suited to run and chase and outnumbered by James and Dykes most of the time.

That problem led actually to the half time substitution with Jade Moore coming on for Rachel Unitt. With Moore alongside Potter, Birmingham took control of the midfield area. Harrop went to left back, Christiansen switched to the left wing were she cound do some damage, and Carney got on the ball a lot more in the second half. Another important point in the game was Heatherson injury in the lead-up to Yorston’s goal. Ellie Curson came on but didnt offer much of a physical presence up front. This was solved later in the game by introducing Harding for Lawley who had a very good game.

Overall a very good game of football and a fair result. 1-1 Goals by Yorston and Moore, bookings for Fishlock and Westwood.

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