The fans were in the ground, the players had completed their warm-up and kick off was imminent, or so you would think. At 2pm, the stadium announcer confirmed there would be a delay to the start of the game, however, there was little to no communication on why, or for how long.
10 minutes later we were told the game would commence at half past two, so it would be another 20 minutes before the game finally got underway.
And after another set of warm-ups, the players awkwardly walked back down the tunnel to walk out arm-in-arm with the mascots, and finally, just after half past two, the game was finally underway.
The first few chances for both sides were from well outside the box with both the Blues and the Seagulls not troubling either goalkeeper.
Lucy Quinn had the best chance of the opening 10 minutes after her shot hit the bar and went out for a goal kick. Brighton were let off, and in the opening stages it was the hosts who were managing the game better.
After Quinn’s attempt, Brighton slowly got into the game a bit more, managing to string passes together and hold onto the ball.
However, it was the hosts who had better luck with that final ball.
Libby Smith had a chance after being one-on-one with Megan Walsh in the Brighton goal, however, her attempt was straight at the shot-stopper before being cleared by the defence.
Before long, Smith was in the same position again, and Walsh did all she could to keep the ball out of the net. However, Smith was first to the ball and smashed it into the back of the net to give the Blues the lead.
The first half was almost a case of Brighton holding onto possession, but Birmingham having the better chances. Every chance the hosts had was in a dangerous position. They just looked better going forward.
It is hard to say what Hope Powell said to her players at the break, but it didn’t feel like it did anything. In the second half they came out and for the opening stages were almost second to everything, and the frustration was apparent when Poppy Pattinson was booked.
However, Powell reacted and brought Julia Zigotti onto the pitch for just short of 40 minutes. Zigotti has experience of scoring in this fixture, and Brighton needed a goal.
But the change didn’t make an immediate difference because in their next attack, Birmingham doubled their lead through Jade Pennock. A cool, calm and collected finish from the midfielder who had time to control the ball in the box.
Shortly after Birmingham’s second, Lee Guem-min’s attempt at goal was beautifully hit into the top corner and they had a shimmer of hope. The second Birmingham goal was stunning, but that one was just that little bit better.
Birmingham regained their two-goal lead just under three minutes later, however, when Lucy Quinn was given too much space in the box to control and shoot.
Just before the end of the 90, the Seagulls won a penalty for a handball, and Danielle Carter stepped up to convert the spot kick. Brighton had four minutes to find their equaliser and send this game to penalties.
However, despite their best efforts in the latter stages of the game, it was not meant to be for the visitors and the Blues get their first Conti Cup win since the 2020/21 season.
The Blues go top of Group C after that win, with West Ham on two points following their win on penalties against the London Lionesses.