Relegation candidates Birmingham face Man City in fight for survival

birmingham-city-manchester-city
Copyright: Nick Potts

Sunday afternoon will see Manchester City welcome relegation candidates Birmingham City to the Academy Stadium.

A title fight

City hosted reigning champions and league leaders Chelsea in a thrilling encounter in Manchester. The match ended in a 2-2 draw, which could go a long way to decide who is crowned winners of the Women’s Super League 2020/21. 

Gareth Taylor’s side conceded first to the league’s current top scorer and Australia international Sam Kerr. City then equalised just four minutes later. Lauren Hemp’s cross was misjudged by the Chelsea defence and was tapped in by Chloe Kelly for her eighth goal of the campaign. 

(Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Kerr then drove goal-wards and beat the last City defender, causing the goalkeeper to commit a foul and concede a penalty. Danish international Pernille Harder confidently dispatched the spot kick. Man City were on the verge of gifting the title away, until a misplaced pass by Chelsea’s striker was pounced on and wasn’t dealt with inside the box, giving Hemp the opportunity to equalise. 

Second City derby drama

Birmingham City played in midweek as they hosted another relegation candidate in Aston Villa. The bragging rights of the Second City derby were shared as Carla Ward’s side came from behind and managed to snatch a point in injury time. 

Summer signing Veatriki Sarri, rose highest and headed in a late free-kick beyond Weiß to put her side in a strong position in the closing stages of the season. 

(Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Marcus Bignot’s side scored on the counter attack. Birmingham City were too slow to get back and defend and subsequently leaked a goal. Shania Hayles drove all the way down the wing and picked out youngster Freya Gregory in the box. Her first time effort rattled the crossbar but the rebound was fired in for her first Villa goal. 

The derby added even more spice to this season’s already heated relegation scrap.

Predicted XIs

Manchester City

Roebuck; Bronze, Dahlkemper, Greenwood, Morgan, Walsh, Coombs, Lavelle, Hemp, Kelly and Stanway.

Birmingham

Hampton; Kelly, Broughman, Scott, Holloway, Littlejohn, Murray, Mace, Mayling, Napier and Walker. 

Team news

Manchester City’s Gareth Taylor has confirmed Steph Houghton is unavailable to play as a result of sustaining an achilles injury and is unlikely to feature for the remainder of the season. 

Managers’ thoughts

Gareth Taylor: “We’re expecting a tough game like it was at St. George’s Park. We need to make sure we’re capable of moving the ball quick enough, maintain good speed in possession and hopefully we’ll take our chances.”

Carla Ward: “Man City are exceptional. They’ve got players that can do a lot. We have to stay disciplined behind the ball.”

Player To Watch

Manchester City

(Photo by Manchester City FC/Getty Images)

England international Lauren Hemp has been very creative from the left-hand side for City following her return from injury against Everton in December. Her deliveries into the box could punish the Birmingham City defenders. The winger has provided six assists this season as well as her fair share of goals, with seven in 13 appearances. 

Where To Watch

The action from the Academy Stadium kicks off at 3pm. UK viewers can watch the game live via the BBC Red Button and BBC iPlayer. For international viewing, the game will be available on the FA Player.

MORE from Her Football Hub: