Birmingham City Ladies 1-1 Arsenal
Women’s FA Cup
BIRMINGHAM City Ladies were knocked out of the Women’s FA Cup in heartbreaking fashion after losing on penalties at home to Arsenal.
Freda Ayisi had given David Parker’s side the lead but Danielle Carter took the game to extra-time with a stunning solo effort and the Gunners went on to win the penalty shoot-out 5-3.
The home side made a positive start and came close to taking the lead on 14 minutes when Ayisi made a break down the right and delivered a dangerous low cross which was eventually cleared by the Arsenal defence.
At the other end the visitors looked a threat going forward and Baggaley had to be alert to keep out Fara Williams’ 25-yard strike but it was the Blues who took the lead with 26 minutes gone.
England ace Jo Potter picked out Ayisi with a neat through ball and the Blues striker powered into the box before firing the ball underneath Sari Van Veenendaal.
Arsenal enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening period but chances were few and far between. Nobbs had perhaps their best opportunity but after taking the ball round three Blues defenders she rolled her effort wide of the target.
Both Vicky Losada and Natalia Pablos Sanchon were introduced at the break as Arsenal looked for a way back into the match which had now turned into a real battle in midfield.
The visitors thought they had got back on level terms on 66 minutes when substitute Sanchon tapped home from close range however the goal was ruled out for an offside infringement.
Four minutes later Losada hit a shot narrowly over the bar and Blues winger Mel Lawley was denied by Veenendaal with the Arsenal goalkeeper doing well to rush off her line after Lawley had broken clear following a quick burst of pace.
The equaliser came 11 minutes from time when Carter made space for a shot and hit a stunning 25-yard effort into the top corner of the net and out of Sophie Baggaley’s reach.
Both teams understandably tired as the game moved into extra-time and Blues had Baggaley to thank for keeping them in the tie after the young goalkeeper pulled off a fine save to deny England legend Kelly Smith.
The hosts could have won it themselves but defender Aoife Mannion could not get the all important touch to Chloe Peplow’s free kick.
Penalties proved to be the only way to separate the two sides and it was Arsenal who held their nerve by scoring all five to book their place in the next round of the competition.