Beth Mead celebrates 100th appearance in Arsenal win over Birmingham City
- Credit: PA
WSL: Arsenal 3 Birmingham City 0
Beth Mead celebrated her 100th Arsenal appearance as the Gunners returned to winning ways in the Women’s Super League with a 3-0 win over Birmingham City.
Lydia Williams made her league debut for Arsenal in goal as she replaced Austrian Manuela Zinsberger between the Arsenal posts.
Arsenal were on the front foot from the very start as Beth Mead crossed for Vivianne Miedema before her header was cleared away to the edge of the area and Jill Roord fired over the top.
Joe Montemurro’s side had a real spring in their step in the opening few minutes as Katie McCabe swung in a cross for Jennifer Beattie at the back-post but she couldn’t make a connection as the ball went out of play.
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Birmingham City couldn’t get out of their own half with McCabe having the next opportunity when McCabe whistled her strike inches wide from a corner.
Beattie was next to have a chance as she met a Little cross before her header at the back-post was tipped onto the crossbar by Hampton who showed fine reflexes to make the save.
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Mead then nearly created the opener as she flicked her way beyond Rebecca Holloway and her cross found Roord before her effort was well blocked.
On 21 minutes the Gunners were then awarded a penalty as Mollie Green brought down Mead off the ball before Little stepped up and had her effort saved by the fantastic Hampton getting down low to tip her effort away.
It was all Gunners pressure and Caitlin Foord thought she was in but Harriet Scott made an excellent last ditch tackle to stop the Australian going on one on with the goalkeeper.
Leah Williamson then picked out Miedema with an exceptional pass before the Dutch striker fired her effort wide when she should have hit the target for the Gunners.
Birmingham then had a rare opportunity when Hampton played a long ball down the pitch aiming for Claudia Walker but Williamson did well to cut it out.
Hampton was putting in a magnificent display in the City goal and she made a good save as Malin Gut found Roord after Miedema slipped the ball back to her before her shot was well saved by Hampton down low.
It was a frustrating half for Montemurro’s side as Foord picked out Miedema and she fired her low effort across the face of goal and wide.
Williamson then had a go from range from 30 yards out before her effort was saved at the second attempt by the young English International in the Birmingham City goal.
Miedema then thought she was in on goal but she was denied by a fine last ditch tackle by Christie Murray before she could get a shot in on goal.
It was Arsenal who had the final chance of the first half from a Mead free-kick but her effort sailed over the wall and was claimed by Hampton in the Blues goal to keep it level at the break.
Montemurro’s side started the second half the way they had finished the first on top and Foord had a big opening when Mead crossed for Miedema who headed the ball down for Foord who’s effort was blocked by Rachel Corsie.
Birmingham were trying to get in with the long ball as Hampton played another one aiming for Walker who has been in top form this season but Williamson stepped across to make the challenge and set Arsenal on the attack once again.
However the Gunners did take the lead in the 57th minute when Foord got in at the back-post after McCabe crossed for her seventh assist in all competitions this season before the Australian headed in to finally break the deadlock.
Roord could have doubled their advantage minutes later as McCabe whipped in a free-kick for the Dutch international but her header was well saved by the in form Hampton.
Hampton was putting in a superb display in the City goal frustrating Arsenal with save after save as Miedema was played in but her low effort was well kept out by the keeper at her near-post.
Montemurro’s side then doubled their advantage when Roord found herself in space from 20 yards out before fizzing a strike high into the top corner of the net beyond Hampton leaving the keeper with no chance of saving and settle a few nerves in the returning Arsenal support.
The Gunners then made their first two changes bringing off Beattie and Leonie Maier for Lotte Wubben-Moy and Lisa Evans.
Evans was straight into the action as she fired an effort low and across goal as Miedema and Mead linked up before the ball fell for the Scottish International who fizzed her effort wide.
Little then could have had herself on the scoresheet as she tricked her way into the box before pulling her effort just wide off the target as the Gunners were looking to put the game to bed.
The Gunners were then boosted as Steph Catley made her return from injury as she replaced McCabe and then Danielle Van de Donk and Jordan Nobbs came on for Foord and Mead.
Williams in the Arsenal goal was then called into a rare save as Murray found herself in space on the edge of the area but her powerful effort was straight at the Australian in the Arsenal goal.
Arsenal were then however awarded a penalty in the 87th minute for a hand ball when Little’s effort towards goal was blocked by Corsie and the captain made no mistake from the spot this time despite Hampton going the right way once again.
It was Birmingham who had the final shot of the game as Walker hit a shot as sweet as a nut towards goal but Williams was equal to it making the save.
Arsenal: Williams, Maier, Williamson, Beattie, McCabe, Gut, Roord, Little, Mead, Miedema, Foord
Subs used: Van de Donk, Nobbs, Wubben-Moy, Catley, Evans.
Birmingham City: Hampton, Scott, Brougham, Corsie, Holloway, Murray, Scofield, Green, Toussaint, Napier, Walker.
Subs used: Kelly, Lawley, McCarron.