Birmingham 4-2 Chelsea
Birmingham City midfielder Jo Potter hailed the new-found character within the club after they beat Chelsea 4-2 in an entertaining clash in the Womens Super League.
Potter was part of the Birmingham side that beat the same opposition in Saturday’s FA Women's Cup final, and scored a late free-kick on Thursday night to seal an enthralling match.
Cup final heroes Jodie Taylor and Karen Carney had given the hosts a 2-0 lead within 11 minutes, but Chelsea levelled the scores after the break, only for Birmingham to wrestle control of the game once again.
And Potter believes that the result and performance is indicative of the belief that radiates around the team.
“We were all saying that last season, if they had have equalised we would have gone on to lose the game,” she said. “I think that shows the character that we’ve got this season to dig in and really fight to win the game.”
But Chelsea refused to go away for long periods of the match, and only really faded after Potter had struck with a late free-kick, one that she took away from Carney, who scored from a set-piece on Saturday.
“As soon as it came down I said ‘I want this one’. Karen wanted it because she was on a high from Saturday but she stepped back and let me take it, thankfully.”
Gemma Bonner had earlier given her side hope when she headed Chelsea back into the match on 24 minutes. Birmingham held on until half-time, but the visitors were soon level when Helen Lander hooked a shot home seven minutes into the second period.
But Birmingham retook the lead just seconds later when Rachel Unitt scrambled in Potter’s corner, before she settled any remaining nerves with her thumping late effort.
Chelsea’s Lander, who also scored on Saturday, said that losing after clawing their way back into the game was the result of having an inexperienced side.
“I’m 26 and I’m the oldest player on the team,” she said. “It’s a great group and when it’s going our way it’s all rosy, but we showed our inexperience here.
“We’ve got new players and a lot of young players. We showed spirit to come back to 2-2 but we showed a bit of naivety by conceding straight from the kick-off.
“We started the game off really, really badly and I think in the end that killed us.
“A lot of teams at 2-0 down away to Birmingham might have gone on to lose 4-0 or 5-0, so it’s pleasing in a way that we came back. Towards the end of the first half we were the better side, but we have to keep that up for 90 minutes.”
Birmingham’s win puts them two points behind league leaders Arsenal, and they will top the table on Sunday if they beat Bristol Academy.
Birmingham (4-4-2): Rebecca Spencer; Chelsea Weston, Emily Westwood, Laura Bassett (C), Rachel Unitt (Kerys Harrop 57); Jade Moore, Jo Potter, Karen Carney, Rachel Williams, Eniola Aluko (Izzy Christiansen 73), Jodie Taylor (Marie Ballard 85).
Subs not used: Marie Hourihan, Cristina Torkildsen.
Red cards: none
Chelsea Ladies(4-4-2): Carly Telford (C); Lara Fay (Sophie Gwilliam 82), Gemma Bonner, Claire Rafferty, Sophie Ingle; Ashlee Hincks (Suzanne Lappin 66), Drew Spence, Dani Buet, Helen Lander; Dunia Susi, Kate Longhurst.
Subs not used: Sarah Quantrill, Sophie Perry, Laura Coombs, Victoria Williams.
Bookings: Kate Longhurst
Red cards: none
Referee: Ms. S Massey