THE SEARCH for a first league win in 2015 for Birmingham City Ladies continues after they slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat away at Manchester City Women on Sunday afternoon.
England striker Toni Duggan scored the only goal of the game on 53 minutes and consigned Dave Parker’s side to their fourth defeat of the season.
There were plenty of England stars on show as the Super League returned to action in front of packed crowd in Manchester, which was a strong sign that women’s football is very much on the up following the Lionessess’ success in Canada.
And the Blues ladies side included England star Jade Moore in midfield while both Karen Carney and Jo Potter started on the bench.
The hosts made a bright start and almost took the lead inside two minutes when Natasha Harding broke free down the right and unleashed a powerful shot which was well saved by Chelsea Spencer.
Harding was then forced to withdraw through an injury and was replaced by Krystle Johnston on 16 minutes before some sloppy defending allowed Duggan to curl a shot narrowly wide of goal.
Parker’s side seemed happy to soak up the pressure early on but had a chance to go ahead themselves on 21 minutes when they were awarded a free kick near the edge of the area but Coral Haines’ shot clipped the top of the bar and drifted over for a goal kick.
At the other end Spencer did well to tip a dangerous cross way from safety before a neat Birmingham move saw Mel Lawley feed Freda Ayisi but he shot was well saved by Karen Bardsley in the Man City goal.
The chance of the half came moments before the break. Jill Scott’s header looked destined for the back of the net but Remi Allen was on-hand to clear her effort off the line to the relief of the travelling support.
At half-time Carney was introduced for Haines and provided more attacking options for Parker’s side but it was the hosts who looked the more likely to score.
Spencer did well to deny Johnstone again and Steph Houghton fired over from close range when perhaps she should have done better.
But the breakthrough finally came eight minutes after the re-start when Jill Scott got to the byline and had the vision to pick out Duggan who took her time to fire home from close range.
The goal seemed to spark the Blues into life and they enjoyed their best spell of the match around the hour mar but they failed to make a breakthrough.
Kirsty Linnett saw her shot deflected wide and Lawley hit a shot the turn inches wide before Carney tried an audacious lob from 30 yards out which whistled past the post.
Isobel Christansen should have done better when she w given time and space in the area but her shot was weak and easy for Spencer to collect.
Carney was proving to be a threat and again she came close to scoring her first goal of the season but Bardsley denied the England midfielders’ shot with a clever save.
Jo Potter was introduced late on as the visitors stepped up their game but in fact it was Man City who should have wrapped the game up but Nikita Parris sent her header over the bar eight minutes from time.
And minutes later Spencer produced a brilliant save to deny Parris who had been put clean through on goal but one goal proved to enough.