Notts County Ladies 0
Birmingham City Ladies 1
BLUES Ladies celebrated clinching survival in style as Kerys Harrop nodded home an 88th minute winner to earn David Parker’s side a fifth successive victory in all competitions.
A fortnight after clinching their place in the Continental Tyres Cup semi-finals thanks to an impressive victory over Chelsea, Blues produced a vibrant second half performance to take maximum points from a pulsating encounter.
Just when it looked as though both sides would be frustrated in their efforts to find a winner, Harrop struck at the near post from Jo Potter’s corner, much to the delight of the Blues players and fans.
Indeed, Potter could have seen red as early as the 15th minute having raised a hand at Leanne Crichton in an unsavoury altercation, but she escaped with a booking to her name.
The first half featured some neat football from both sides but, after a solid start by Blues, it was County who took a grip on the game, inspired by their England left back Alex Greenwood.
The full back had already fired narrowly over before striking the bar in the tenth minute with a fine effort from the left-hand edge of the box.
Midway through the half Blues had a double let-off when Ellen White raced away on goal and forced Sophie Baggaley into a sprawling save and, before the danger could be cleared, Jess Clarke struck the post with a powerful effort.
Blues rallied and came within a whisker of taking a 39th minute lead when Karen Carney struck the bar with a dipping 20-yard free kick and Harrop curled the ball inches wide on the rebound.
Greenwood threatened again just before half time – again after finding space on the left – but Baggaley was off her line quickly to save well.
In the second half Blues were looking extremely comfortable on the ball as County lost their way, but clearcut chances were at a premium despite the best efforts of the probing Carney and Potter and the livewire Mel Lawley.
Blues looked the more likely winners but escaped in the 79th minute when substitute Aileen Whelan fired a fine chance over the bar after good work on the right from Sophie Walton.
However, just as an exciting match somehow seemed set to end goalless, up popped Harrop to break the hosts’ hearts with her decisive strike.
There was still time for County to threaten in three minutes of added time as Rachel Williams prodded wide before Baggaley adjusted superbly to save Desiree Scott’s swerving strike.
BLUES: Baggaley, Carter, Mannion, Harrop, Allen, Linnett (Haines 85), Carney ©, Potter, Lawley (Sargeant 89), Westwood, Windell (Ayisi 78).
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