Chelsea one win away from the WSL title after a hard-fought victory in Birmingham

Birmingham City 0-1 Chelsea

When you’re chasing the league title wins can come in many different forms but a win however ugly is still a win and this was the nastiest win you can imagine but Chelsea fans won’t mind .

The defending champions looked nothing of the sort, but if these three points help them lift the Women’s Super League trophy again next Sunday, no one will remember this performance on a wet and slippery night in the city of Birmingham, when the team from Emma Hayes moved inside one. win the title they long for.

St Andrew’s, the home of WSL bottom team Birmingham City, was the scene of Chelsea’s title rivals Arsenal’s only defeat in a league campaign so far. That surprising result in January, as it stands, could cost Arsenal top spot. But for very long stretches on Sunday night, Chelsea looked set to fall into the same banana skin as hard-working Birmingham proved very difficult to break.

And so hopefully they will, as the West Midlands club are fighting for their future in the division, now five points from safety with just two games to go.

It wasn’t until the 64th minute that this tough game saw her first goal attempt, from Pernille Harder. The go-ahead goal that followed seven minutes later was suitably rudimentary, befitting the game as a whole.

Harder’s header to the back post hit the flailing arm of left back Lisa Robertson, who was facing away from the ball, with no intention of grabbing it, and Emily Heaslip awarded the penalty. Denmark captain Harder sent goalkeeper Emily Ramsey the wrong way from the penalty spot to maintain Chelsea’s four-point lead over Arsenal, who have a game in hand on Wednesday at home to Tottenham Hotspur in the Emirates.

As for Birmingham, continuing to improve but with time running out, they must now win their remaining two games to have any chance of survival. Worryingly from his point of view, the first of them is away from Manchester City, a team that has won 11 games in a row in all competitions. The latter will travel to neighbors Aston Villa at Villa Park on May 8, where they face the prospect of relegation at the hands of their second-city rivals.

Buoyed by their second win of the season last weekend at Brighton, they worked tremendously hard again against Chelsea and frustrated Hayes’s side massively in the first half, but lacked the quality at the other end to test Ann-Katrin Berger until detention time.

Chelsea’s Sam Kerr, who had scored a hat-trick in her last two WSL appearances against Birmingham, kept relatively quiet, two days after being named the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year. That was to the credit of Birmingham’s last five, but it will offer them little consolation as, despite their admirable fighting spirit, they slid ever closer to relegation.

match details

Birmingham City (5-2-1-2): Ramsay 6; Cowie 6 (Whipp 6, 67), Scott 7, Lo Quinn 7, Lawley 6, Robertson 5 (Whelan 5, 86); Finn 6, Murray 7; Pennock 6 (Smith 6, 67); Lu Quinn 6, Sarri 6; Unused Subs: Hourihan (gk), Ewens, Ryan-Doyle, Jenner, Worsey, Wildgoose

Reserved: Cowie, Robertson

Chelsea (3-5-2): Berger 6; Bright 7, Carter 6 (Andersson, 64), Eriksson 6; Charles 6, Harder 7 (Spence 6, 82), Ingle 6 (James 6, 64), Fleming 6, Reiten 7; England 6 (Cuthbert 8, 45), Kerr 6 (Mjelde, 86); Unused Subs: Musovic (gk), Nouwen, Abdullina

Reserved: Berger

Referee: Emily Heaslip (Bury St Edmunds)

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