With the game wonderfully open during the opening minutes, the visitors grew more and more into the game, pushing the hosts back and limiting their chances. After persistent work in the home box, Birmingham were rewarded for their pressure as Kirsty Linnett nodded in at the back post with the defence scrambling.
The Bees responded well but struggled in midfield, most balls lifted long for Jo Wilson to chase. One such hopeful ball was on the stroke of half-time, the striker pulling away from the defence and first to the ball as Ann-Katrin Berger dashed out of her box to clear. With Wilson away from her and free to roll the ball home, she was bumped off of the ball by the keeper and left on deck, the hosts left frustrated after being given nothing.
Despite a hopeful start to the second-half, the Bees were dealt a slice of bad luck as captain, Ashleigh Goddard went down awkwardly and left the field with a dislocated shoulder. Struggling to compose themselves after the loss, the Bees were met with an onslaught from the Blues, corner after corner that the hosts couldn’t clear. No surprises when Kerys Harrop doubled the lead from yet another corner, her firm header at the back post too much for Bethan Davies to deal with.
After losing another player to injury as Aoife Hurley limped off the hosts did all they could to weather the storm. Birmingham were unrelenting, working as one to scythe forward and terrorise the home side. If the Bees were frustrated about the manner in which they conceded the first two goals there was nothing they could have done but stand and marvel as substitute Charlie Wellings, let fly from 20 yards out, her curler arrowed into the top corner.
The final insult coming just inside of second-half stoppage time, Davies loosing focus at a corner and dropping the ball under pressure, the bounce rolling it over the line as the Blues marched on to the final.
With both previous meeting between the two sides in this competition having been won 1-0, it was always going to be close. City the only team to have defeated Arsenal in the latter stages of the competition, the only team other than the Gunners to have lifted the trophy.
The game was far from a classic, City still not quite looking like the real deal as they struggled for purpose in the attacking third, Emma Byrne comfortable to deal with almost all they could throw at her. The difference simply came down to taking chances, Arsenal with a number of good chances that didn’t take, notably through Dan Carter and Asisat Oshoala.
The lone goal came through Jennifer Beattie with just over ten minutes left to play. The Citizens with a free kick to the right of the box after Nikita Parris was brought down by Casey Stoney, Toni Duggan’s delivery was once again not the best but the ball caused the Gunners all sorts of problems. Angled towards the back post, with plenty of red shirts in the area, Beattie was first to the loose ball and alert to knock the ball past the defence and into the net.
With Natalia and Marta Corredera thrown into the mix, Arsenal piled forward, ramping up the pressure, desperate for an equaliser but the Citizens held firm to see the game out. The manner of victory not important as City make their first cup final in two years.