The FA WSL 1 2014 season finished with a bang. 3 teams still in it on final day, Liverpool winning it on goal difference over Chelsea, while Birmingham end up a point behind those 2 sides.
I don’t think it has been pointed enough that the City player that injured Marie Hourihan had a big influence on where the trophy landed in the end. As usual goalies are not protected and charging the Chelsea goalie ended in a substitution and a less experienced goalkeeper entering the pitch. Title are won or lost with small margins and I certainly think the game would have turned differently with Hourihan in goal. I do wonder why the contact that led to the injury was not punished. It certainly was a huge setback for Chelsea. We know what happened next : a first goal that could have been saved, a second goal due to bad marking and Chelsea were up against it. They had enough time to come back ( including playing against 10 players for 15 minutes) though and ended up short by one goal.
Small margins also cost Birmingham who ended up also short by one goal and finished the season empty handed with no Champions League to show for their effort. It is obvious that the U20 mid season break destroyed their momentum. They were unbeaten in the League before the second monthly long break for the 2014 season ( I won’t come back on the absurdity of having 2 one month mid season breaks in a season with 14 League games) and ended up LLWDLWD after the break. That is a half season with 8 points while the first half brought 17 points. Birmingham did not have enough on final day as well, going 2-0 down like Chelsea did. They got a goal back and got a chance to level with Carney’s penalty but a Telford double save prevented the equaliser to happen. Keryakoplis did equalise and Birmingham tried for 40 minutes to find a winner to no avail.
In the end Liverpool did the job with a 3-0 win over Bristol. Not the most surprising result. Both side played midweek Champions League with Liverpool playing a day early and at home while Bristol had a short away trip to Ireland. As Liverpool had an extra day rest and also are professional while Bristol are semi-professional, there is no surprise the Vixens ran out of gas. There are benefits and reward for full time training and rightly so.
Talking of small margins, let’s go back to the 21st of September and the Birmingham v Liverpool game. As we know the referee made a technical error that the FA did not rectify, therefore adding 2 points to Liverpool’s total and removing 1 point from Birmingham’s total. We know that the refereeing standard has been poor to awful for most of the teams and the whole season, so it safe to say teams are likely to have been all treated unfairly by some decisions, but as those are factual decisions they cannot be rectified unlike the Birmingham v Liverpool incident. I certainly believe the competition integrity has not been preserved and it is a sad state of the game when thing like this can happen.