Whilst the hosts dominated possession in the early stages, they were unable to penetrate Blues’ well-organised defence. The centre-back pairing of Harrop and Holloway looked solid at the back, snuffing out any danger. Marta Tejedor’s side soaked up the pressure and restricted the hosts to efforts from distance which did not trouble Hampton.
Captain Kerys Harrop put her body on the line to make some vital clearances from crosses swung in by former Blue, Aoife Mannion, who faced her old club for the first time since her move to Manchester in the summer.
As Blues began to grow into the game and push higher up the field, Nick Cushing’s side probed for gaps and very nearly found their opening in the 22nd minute. Walsh sliced a pass through the defence, sending Beckie clear and one-on-one with Hampton. Blues’ England U21 keeper’ was characteristically composed; closing down the angle and getting a strong hand to Beckie’s shot to turn it round the post.
Blues settled back into their shape and it took something special to break the deadlock. The hosts won a corner which Harrop had appeared to clear until the ball fell to Walsh 25 yards out. The midfielder unleashed a curling effort through a crowded Blues box, and despite Hampton’s unsighted late dive, found the bottom corner. Aside from Walsh’s strike there was little to choose between the two sides at the break.
After the break, however, the hosts flew out of the blocks and stepped up a gear. Less than two minutes into the second half, Beckie turned Jordan down the right and fizzed a cross along the by line. Wullaert reacted quickest to turn it into the net at the near post. After the goal, the tempo slowed again and the hosts dictated play, seemingly content to see the game out with their two goal advantage.
But with Blues inviting pressure, sitting deep and unable to find an outlet, the hosts found their clinical edge and added to their lead. Geum-Min nudged home Lauren Hemp’s delivery in the 79th minute to all but wrap up the game for the hosts.
Goals: Walsh 25’, Wullaert 48’, Min 79’
Bookings: Bonner 73’
Birmingham City: Hampton, Jordan, Holloway, Harrop, Mayling, Visalli, Arthur, Scofield, Walker (Scott, 70), Williams (Whipp, 78), Grant.
Manchester City: Roebuck, Campbell, Bonner, Houghton, Mannion (Fidalgo 88) Weir, Walsh, Scott (Park 80) Wullaert, Beckie (Geum-Mim 70), Hemp.