19-year-old Charlie Wellings proved to be crucial for Birmingham City in their cup clash with Doncaster Rovers Belles. The forward scored and assisted in a close 3-2 win over the WSL 2 side.
Marc Skinner’s Blues played like a team with something to prove - following Thursday night's loss to Everton in the group stage of the WSL Continental Cup.
The game kicked off with a rapid pace and the first chance came early for the Blues. Andrine Hegerberg found space to deliver a straightforward cross to Wellings in the eighth minute, but the 19-year-old failed to make the final connection in the box.
However, the fast pace of play left Birmingham disjointed in areas and vulnerable to Doncaster opening a counter attack. Smart movement from the midfield allowed Christie Murray to have a shot from outside the box. The strike was thumping but it was delivered inches wide of Hannah Hampton’s net.
The visitor’s attempt on goal encouraged Birmingham City to turn the pressure up. However, Doncaster remained composed and resolute. Rhiannon Roberts put her body on the line for the ball twice, denying Freda Ayisi and Hegerberg their chances.
Goals to come
Goalkeeper Jules Draycott steered away the danger of Paige William’s curling free-kick with an astute save. The ball was heading for the top right corner, but Draycott judged the timing and tipped it over the bar.
The subsequent corners proved prime opportunities but a double goal line clearance denied the Blues the advantage they had been seeking.
Belles punished City for their missed chances as in the 36th minute, Murray gave the away side the lead. There was nothing that 'keeper Hampton could have done as the strike was close range and hammered with force into the back of the net.
The goal gave the Belles a burst of confidence as they advanced forward, coming close to doubling the lead minutes after. However, instead of conceding a second, City restored parity in the final minute of the first half.
Wellings cut the ball back to Ayisi who nailed the ball into the back of the net, beyond Draycott’s reach.
The second half continued in the same pattern, Birmingham forward Ayisi wove her way into the box, but the Blues lacked a clinical edge. 13 minutes into the second half, Wellings broke the chain.
As the fourth official was about to indicate Andrine Hegerberg’s substitution for Rachel Williams, the Norwegian International delivered an incisive pass to the feet of Wellings. The forward made no mistake in drilling the ball home to fire Birmingham into the lead.
Minutes later, Wellings almost earned her second. Her powerful header targeted straight into the hands of keeper Draycott.
When Williams was eventually introduced into the game,, it took her just 10 minutes to make her mark. The Blue’s swung a corner into the box and the former Notts County player bundled it over the line.
Doncaster replied quickly. Just one minute later, Kirsty Hanson charged down the middle of the pitch and hit the ball mid volley, in the sweet spot. The ball looped perfectly over the young keeper to close the gap between the two sides.
The closing minutes of the match was an end-to-end with either side looking as though they could bag another goal.
Birmingham City managed to control the result and take all three points in the group stage, which leaves them with six points from nine.