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Match report: Connolly goal enough for Albion

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Hope Powell's side make winning start to Conti Cup campaign with 1-0 victory over Birmingham City.

By Bruce Talbot • 13 October 2021

By Manjit Narotra
Victoria Williams hugs scorer Megan Connolly after she put Albion 1-0 up

Albion made a successful start to their Conti League Cup campaign with a second win of the season against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s on Wednesday. 

There was no repeat of the five-goal victory Albion enjoyed over the Blues in the WSL last month but Megan Connolly’s first goal of the season just before the break was no more than they deserved. The Ireland midfielder curled a shot into the bottom corner and Albion had other chances while a solid defensive display meant Megan Walsh had little to do in goal.

Hope Powell made just two changes to the side which beat Spurs on Sunday with Rinsola Babajide and Katie Robinson coming in for Danielle Carter and Emily Simpkins, who dropped to the bench. Babajide lined up on the right and Robinson on the right and both were prominent in a lively start by Albion.

The home side began to settle and Lucy Quinn’s inswinging corner on 13 minutes caused some consternation in Albion’s defence before Victoria Williams hooked the ball clear. Quinn then let fly from well outside the box but Walsh was right behind her shot.

By Manjit Narotra
Maya Le Tissier clears her lines at full stretch

Robinson switched flanks briefly and forced Marie Hourihan into her first save in the 24th minute. Robinson played a one-two with Megan Connolly but her close-range effort was blocked by the Birmingham keeper. Robinson produced some brilliant skill to get past Harriet Scott and pick out Ellie Brazil, but her cross into the danger area was blocked before Aileen Whelan met Megan Connolly’s corner with a firm header but it was straight at Hourihan.

Albion were now in control and they broke the deadlock just before half-time. They pressed Birmingham deep in their own half and when Brazil’s right-wing cross was only half-cleared by Louise Quinn, Connolly curled her shot past Quinn’s outstretched leg and Hourihan and into the far corner.

Maisie Symonds came on for Geummin Lee at the break and the midfielder nearly made an immediate impact with a volley from 30 yards which dipped just over Hourihan’s bar. Symonds then seized on a loose ball in the box after a great left-wing break by Albion but dragged her shot wide.

Albion were hunting a second goal and Emma Koivisto was next to threaten when she shot straight at Hourihan after good work by Robinson and Babajide, who then tried her luck from distance, but the Birmingham keeper got everything behind the shot.

By Manjit Narotra
Katie Robinson keeps her eye on the ball

Birmingham’s main threat came from set pieces. Walsh punched Lisa Robertson’s inswinging free kick to Emily Whelan and managed to block Whelan’s low drive from outside the box, but it was a rare moment of alarm for Albion at the back and Fliss Gibbons nearly added a second in stoppage time when she met Symonds' inswinging corner with a header which flew narrowly over. 

Nonetheless it had been a solid performance by Brighton, who are next in action on 31 October at Arsenal in the Vitality FA Cup semi-final. 

Albion: Walsh, Koivisto, Le Tissier, Williams (Kerkdijk 70), Gibbons, Babajide, Whelan, Connolly, Robinson, Lee (Symonds 45), Brazil (Bance 79). Subs: Angel, Kaagman, Green, Carter, Simpkins, Nokuthula.

Booked: Williams (foul)