Within the first 20 minutes, Birmingham held the majority of possession, which they tactically utilised as they continually pressed the Nottingham defence. Rachel Lang proved difficult to deal with in her role as striker, testing the goalkeeper on more than one occasion. Crosses from Charlotte Gale and some slicing through balls from captain, Jeannie Banks, facilitated many of the attacks early on. The breakthrough finally came in the 18th minute, when Sophie Hoyes’ pass reached Rachel Lang. Her shot connected with the underside of the crossbar and bounced into the net, giving Birmingham the 1-0 lead. Despite the goal, Birmingham kept pressing and managed to get their first two corners of the game in quick succession before the half-hour.
Nottingham fought hard to keep possession and carry it into their attacking half, but Birmingham’s defence worked in a solid fashion. Their defensive line proved successful in catching opposing strikers offside, and their spacial awareness meant playing out from the back gave the team an impressive aesthetic to those spectating. On the verge of half time, the away side had an impressive counter attack after the breakdown of a Birmingham corner. However, Sinead Gibbons was quick to come off her line and perform a necessary save to ensure UoB finished the first half maintaining their 1-0 advantage.
After some tactical shifts, the second 45 had an even more successful start than in the first. Not 5 minutes into the half, Rachel Lang grabbed her second goal of the game with a well-timed lob over the visitor’s goalkeeper. Despite being two up, Birmingham kept pressing. In the 65th minute Erin Shevlin won a corner, and when the ball pinballed around the box, an error from the Nottingham goalkeeper allowed the ball to fall to Jess Grant. She made no mistake and slotted the ball high into the top left corner, making it 3-0. As the clock ticked towards the 70th minute, some fresh legs were brought onto the field. This immediately proved successful, as impact sub Sasha Crooknorth’s long range shot flew over the goalkeeper’s head and into the net. 4-0 to Birmingham.
After some skilful trickery from Shannon McFadden and a shot off the crossbar by Alice Lilley, it became evident that Birmingham didn’t want to lose hold of their attacking edge. However, with UoB pushing for 5, Nottingham were able to claw one back as full time approached. Both sides kept attacking to the last, but the game ended with an impressive 4-1 victory to Birmingham.
The 3s started their season just how they would have intended, and no doubt they hope to sustain the same impressive attacking and defensive displays in their subsequent fixtures.
Their next game is away against local rivals BCU 1s on Wednesday 16thOctober. You can tune in for live-match updates through the club’s Twitter page, @UoBWomensFC, where every match from every team throughout the season is summarised.
University of Birmingham 3rds 4-1 University of Nottingham 3rds
Rachel Lang (18, 50)
Jess Grant (65)
Sasha Crooknorth (71)