After an extended international break of three weeks and two impressive battling draws against Chelsea and Manchester City, Bristol City were back in WSL action at a very cold and blustery Stoke Gifford Stadium. Today’s opponents were the in-form Birmingham City team.
The game immediately got off to a quick tempo, with both teams testing out the others resolute defence. A Poppy Pattinson cross fizzed across Birmingham’s penalty box and a through ball by Carla Humphrey to Juliette Kempi just missed its target. At the other end, Charlie Wellings saw her superb effort superbly blocked by Scottish World Cup bound defender, Frankie Brown.
As the half wore on, The Vixens sat back and Birmingham began to dominate proceedings with their slick passing game. The superb Lucy Staniforth showing why she was called up by Phil Neville in the last lot of England friendlies.
In the 31st minute, Birmingham’s Emma Follis was clipped by Danique Kerkdijk inside the box and referee Samuel Allison made no hesitation in awarding the penalty. Up stepped Aoife Mannion against WSL player for the month of September Sophie Baggaley. The Bristol keeper continued her fine start to the season by diving to her left to save Mannion’s effort to send the teams in at half-time level.
Ella Rutherford and Aoife Mannion. Photo: @bristolcitywfc
In the second half, Wellings and Staniforth combined well in the Blues attack but were limited to long shots due to a well organised Bristol defence led by Gemma Evans and Brown.
The Vixens started playing some nice attacking football troubling the Birmingham defence. Twice Humphries made incisive runs down the right with pinpoint passes to Kempi but the Finnish number nine was unable to control the ball.
The decisive moment of the game came in the 75th minute when Birmingham’s Mannion took the ball thirty yards out and sent a piledriver that just dipped under the Bristol’s crossbar.
Bristol searched for an equaliser and brought on young forward Katie Robinson for her Bristol City debut but the Blues held on for there well-deserved victory against an ever-improving Bristol side.
Academy product Katie Robinson made her debut. Photo: @bristolcitywfc
Bristol will dust themselves off for the West Country derby against WSL basement club Yeovil Town next weekend.
As a Vixens fan I was happy with the performance but obviously disappointed with the result as the winning goal came at a time when I thought we were on top. I love the work our new coach Tanya Oxtoby has done in sorting out our leaky defence. Her manager of the month award for September is richly deserved but I feel we need to be more attacking, however, it’s work in progress I’m sure that will come.
Bristol City: Baggaley, Dykes (C), Evans, Brown, Kerkdijk, Pattinson, Humphrey, Kemppi (Robinson 82’), Rutherford (Payne 65’), Graham, Biesmans
Unused subs: Watson, Johnson, Wilson
Birmingham City: Berger, Harrop (C), Mannion, Sargeant, Williams, Ladd, Ewers, Scott (Mayling 65’), Staniforth, Follis (Quinn 85’), Wellings
Unused subs: Hampton, Hayles, Scofield