Birmingham City Women and Brighton and Hove Albion ground out an entertaining goalless draw at Damson Park.
It was a lightning-fast game, but one where the goalkeepers weren’t challenged on a regular basis. Birmingham shot-stopper Hannah Hampton was the busier of the two ‘keepers, but she didn’t have to make any particularly brilliant saves. Regardless, she still performed well when called upon and manage to claim every ball that came her way.
As for Brighton, they dominated possession and chances for much of the game and played attractive, quick football but they failed to make any of this count. Striker Rianna Jarrett did well floating around Brighton’s attacking third, particularly when cutting in from the wing and holding up long balls from defence, but she couldn’t force a goal for herself or her teammates.
Story of the match
It was an end-to-end first half but one totally devoid of meaningful shots on goal. There was plenty of efforts on goal, mainly for the visitors but they failed to make any of them count.
The Seagulls managed to capitalise on some sloppy defending from Georgia Brougham inside the first minute, but Rianna Jarrett hit a weak shot straight into the gloves of Blues ‘keeper Hannah Hampton. This would set the trend for much of the half, with Brighton shanking a string of good chances straight into the hands of Hampton.
Another such chance came up for Brighton just three minutes later, with Ellie Brazil having to make the most of an under-hit through ball. The winger had to shoot quickly, but she could only shank her effort into the gloves of the Birmingham shot-stopper once again.
Hampton only had to make one real save in the first half, coming on the half hour mark from an audacious long range effort from Inessa Kaagman. After an earlier lobbed effort from the Dutch midfielder went high and wide, she at least managed to get this effort close to the target. However, Hampton was able to get across and claim the shot.
Brighton’s best chance came just before half time. Captain Danielle Bowman had come up from her position in holding midfield and found herself with the opportunity to set up Kayleigh Green for a clear shot on goal. However, she selfishly chose to shoot herself and her weak effort could only find the welcoming gloves of Hampton.
Despite Brighton’s dominance of chances, Birmingham still put in a decent attacking show of their own. They found the most joy down the right wing with debutant Emily Murphy managing to regularly beat Bethan Roe. The Chelsea loanee had a series of crosses claimed by Cecilie Fiskerstrand, who put in a goalkeeping performance to match Hampton’s.
The hosts also threatened with the holdup play of Claudia Walker, who used her strength to hold off Brighton’s centre backs and lay the ball off to her wingers. However, the prolific striker was unable to fashion a chance on goal for herself.
The game stayed end-to-end at the start of the second half, but the chances dried up somewhat for both sides. The only real opportunity fell to Ellie Brazil, who did well to hold onto a long ball under pressure from Harriet Scott. However, she got underneath her shot and Hampton caught it easily. Instead of chances, we got a string of rough tackles as we approached the hour mark.
Jamie Lee-Napier was briefly down for Birmingham following a rough tackle while Brighton had penalty claims waved away by the referee. Danique Kirkdijk also picked up the first yellow of the game just after the hour mark for a rough challenge.
The game devolved into Brighton attack versus Birmingham defence in the closing stages, but the hosts showed their steel and resilience once again and held firm until the end. It was a strong showing from both sides, but Brighton boss Hope Powell may be concerned at her side’s inability to land a killing blow despite seeing so much of the ball.