Match Report: Birmingham City 0-0 Lewes

A defensively strong Birmingham City endured a frustrating start to life in the Barclays Women’s Championship, being held to a goalless draw by an equally strong Lewes.

The first threat came for the Blues with just under four minutes gone thanks to Siobhan Wilson, who could connect her head with a cross, but the resulting effort failed to trouble Sophie Whitehouse in the visitors’ goal.

The home side continued to perform well, keeping possession of the ball and making the Lewes defence work, but with 14 minutes gone, nothing had yet come to pass for Birmingham with this early momentum.

Lewes would have a chance of their own on 15 minutes, with Ellie Mason climbing high to connect her head with a corner, but Blues keeper Lucy Thomas was there to tip the ball over the bar and keep the scores level.

Another chance for the Blues came on 19 minutes, with a superb tackle from Martha Harris leading to the ball finding the feet of Libby Smith, who would then charge into the box, only for her chipped effort to be comfortably caught by Whitehouse.

The game would then become a much more balanced affair, with both sides cancelling each other out well, leading to the main point of interest being a long-range effort from Izzy Dalton that flew well wide of the Birmingham net, failing to trouble Thomas and providing a clear illustration of what the two sides felt they may have had to do in order to get the much-desired opener.

39 minutes had passed before the next major chance would come in the favour of the visitors, with Dalton whipping in a free-kick that would find the feet of Amelia Hazard, whose effort would end up going just wide, ending Birmingham’s panic in the moment and preventing them from going behind against the run of play at the time.

This would be the last major moment of the half, with both sides putting in some good defensive displays that as a result led to a few exciting moments, though they would, of course, hoped to change this after the break.

The second half commenced with some end-to-end action that resulted in some chances, the most notable being a Harris effort from close range on 47 minutes for the Blues that Whitehouse saved, but both keepers would remain strong in their respective goals to keep the two teams level and further frustrate both sides’ attacking units.

Photos: @BCFCwomen

Just shy of 59 minutes had gone before Lewes almost had an early goal of the season contender, with Paula Howells firing an audacious strike from well outside the penalty area that nearly had the beating of Thomas, but the Birmingham keeper was spared her blushes after tipping the ball over the bar, resulting in a corner that ultimately came to nothing.

Just five minutes later, the Blues had a pair of efforts from Ashley Hodson and Harris, the former of which was blocked before falling to the latter, whose effort would go wide, meaning another wasted opportunity for the home side, but their best attacking spell of the half thus far.

As the game entered the last 15 minutes, it had returned to the largely defensive affair that the first half became, with both keepers still catching every ball that came their way, and the defences clearing everything they could as both sides grew desperate to find what at this stage could be a winner.

Birmingham had a chance in the 85th minute, with a low long-range effort from Christie Murray looking like it could trouble Whitehouse, but it would ultimately deflect off of Smith and safely into the Lewes’ keeper’s hands.

The Blues nearly won it with a minute and a half left, with Jade Pennock’s through ball piercing the visitors’ defence and finding Smith, but she would lose her one-on-one with Whitehouse after her effort was saved and went out for a corner that would fail to produce a later winner.

This meant that the spoils were shared at St Andrew’s, with Birmingham not having the start they would have liked in their mission to return to the top-flight, whilst Lewes can take a lot of momentum from this well-earned point, with the hope that they can take the momentum into their first home game against Southampton next weekend at the Dripping Pan.