A well deserved and logical win for Birmingham yesterday. 2-0 and 3-0 on aggregate says it all. Goals by Kirsty Linnett and Remi Allen, both of them coming from quality individual and team play.
Shelley Kerr had decided to keep the faith in the same 11 that failed to produce a shoot on target on Monday at St Andrews. There was certainly an improvement as Rebecca Spencer had to make a good number of saves including a vital one from Ohno when the score was still 0-0. Still no goals to show for and an obvious lack of right winger in the squad as Dan Carter seem quite frustrated on the wing.
The front 3 of Carter, Smith and Yankey tried to create things and they combined with the 2 attacking midfielders Ohno and Weir to make things happen. Birmingham well drilled and organised defensive block did a great job overall and Arsenal rarely managed to get behind the Blues defense.
To be fair when you are rebuilding a team : the team passing & movement and the overall attacking organisation takes time to mature. Players need to know each other and out of the 5 forwards involved only Yankey and Carter had played together last season on a regular basis.
So the fact that an attacking team in transition was beaten by a superior organised team was only a half surprise. Birmingham had 9 players from last season starting again. Remi Allen and 16 years old Jess Carter being the newbies and already fully integrated.
The only good bit of news yesterday for the Arsenal was the 1st team debut for 17 years old Leah Williamson and also one rare appearance for homegrown and 20 years old with 10 seasons at Arsenal Bianca Bragg. Also an excellent second half performance by Freda Ayisi
Tyreso FF and its all star Swedish/Brazilian/Spanish/American line-up awaits now and it will be certainly a very good test for the young Birmingham team.
As for the Arsenal : a potential banana skin in the FA Cup at home to Gillingham after the international break and then a very tough opener away at Notts County are the first 2 fixtures for the domestic season.
There is no doubt that the players need to learn to play with each other otherwise a bottom half finish in the FA WSL table might be a possibility. Jordan Nobbs return will certainly boost the attack when she is fit in a month or two.