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Report: Blues Women 1 Bristol City 1

Blues had the better of it but the points were shared.

BCFC

Captain Christie Murray’s first-class delivery into the top corner secured a vital point for Blues in a 1-1 draw with Bristol City.

Ex-Blues striker Charlie Wellings, the club’s scorer in the 2017 FA Cup final, had crushed early optimism by firing the Robins in front in the 13th minute of a tough opening 45 for the hosts.

However, a stirring second-half showing was rewarded when a corner was worked to Murray who was lurking near the edge of the box and her strike flew in just before the hour mark.

Blues had the better of it from there but the points were shared.

TEAM NEWS:

Harriet Scott returned from suspension in Blues Head Coach Carla Ward’s only change from the 2-2 draw at West Ham United.

Scott came in for Emily Murphy who missed out due to injury with Sarah Mayling pushed forward into an attacking position.

Ward’s options on the bench remained the same, while the Robins fielded two familiar faces in their line-up in Wellings and ex-Blues keeper Sophie Baggaley.

MAIN EVENT:

Blues started with promise and within two minutes a low cross from Rebecca Holloway was scrambled out of the box with Lucy Whipp seizing upon the loose ball to force Baggaley to shovel around the upright.

Ruesha Littlejohn was the next to chance her arm, a looping finish that Baggaley had to paw over the bar while backpedalling.

Ruby Mace’s far-post connection with Mayling’s corner was wayward and early optimism was punctured with Bristol City’s first attack of note.

Abi Harrison dug out a cross despite being under pressure on the left and while Carla Humphrey’s far-post effort was charged down, Wellings had the freedom of the six-yard box to convert with Blues keeper Hannah Hampton grounded.

That completely changed the complexion of the match with the Robins, visibly buoyed by the goal, pushing forward for much of the half.

Yana Daniels wanted a penalty having collided with Holloway on the edge of the penalty area but the free-kick came to nothing and then Harrison was denied by Georgia Brougham when about to pull the trigger following good work by Molly Pike and Ebony Salmon.

Blues got hold of the ball more late in the half and Mayling's tantalising low centre wreaked havoc but neither Littlejohn nor Claudia Walker could get away a clean shot.

Half-time: Blues Women 0 Bristol City 1

Blues looked rejuvenated from the start of the second-half with direct running from Jamie-Lee Napier causing problems, although her shot six minutes after the restart was comfortable for Baggaley.

The game was more open and the Robins sprang away on the counter-attack shortly after, Wellings cutting in from the left only for her shot to skip a fraction wide of Hampton’s far post from an acute angle.

Mayling’s swing and smack of a bouncing ball forced Baggaley to push over via a clip off the top of the crossbar.

But the corner that followed brought the breakthrough Blues had been waiting for as the unmarked Murray lashed high into the top far corner from 15 yards.

Blues remained the more enterprising team but some of the sting went out of the game as both teams appeared to be conscious of making an error.

Walker’s overhead attempt drew a few gasps but there was almost a sting in the tail when Brougham got caught in possession by Pike who let fly from just outside the box, her rising effort drifting just wide of the near post.

Blues kept probing but the points were shared in a tense finale.

Blues: Hannah Hampton, Harriet Scott, Georgia Brougham, Ruby Mace, Rebecca Holloway, Christie Murray, Lucy Whipp, Ruesha Littlejohn, Sarah Mayling, Claudia Walker, Jamie-Lee Napier.

Unused substitutes: Chloe McCarron, Emma Kelly, Gemma Lawley, Mollie Green, Sophie Whitehouse.

Bookings: Rebecca Holloway 21, Ruesha Littlejohn 42.

Bristol City: Sophie Baggaley, Yana Daniels, Kiera Skeels, Gemma Evans, Jemma Purfield, Carla Humphrey, Ella Mastrantonio (Aimee Palmer, 63), Molly Pike, Charlie Wellings, Ebony Salmon, Abi Harrison (Faye Bryson, 75).

Unused substitutes: Laura Rafferty, Flo Allen, Emma Bissell, Maisy Collis, Noami Layzell, Ellen Jones, Benedictine Haaland.

Booking: Charlie Wellings 64, Gemma Evans 82, Jemma Purfield 85.

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