The date is May 9th 2021 and Our Lilywhites traveled to Birmingham for their final WSL match of the 2020-21 campaign. Tottenham have not face Birmingham yet this season as during their last meeting Birmingham did not show due to a shortage of available players. As a result, Tottenham was awarded the three-point by the FA in March. The last time Tottenham faced Birmingham was in December 2019 when Kit Graham scored to earn our Lilwhites a point at Solihull.
Tottenham was looking to end the season on a high after defeat to Champions Chelsea on Wednesday. We knew that Chelsea was always going to be tough especially without our fans in the ground to cheer on our Lilywhites. It should come as no surprise that Chelsea started the strongest of the two teams despite a hard-fought Champion League match last Sunday. Tottenham did have the first chance of the game when Rianna Dean latched onto an Addison pass after some good play by Cho in the middle of the park but Dean rushed her effort shooting straight at Berger.
From there it was all Chelsea, we weren’t pinned back and made to suffer, it’s just as usual we have no playmaker to get the ball to the forwards. We were excited when we heard the announcement of Cho but so far she has been a disappointment and wouldn’t be surprised if she was sent back to the Hammers once her loan expires.
A lot of credit has to go to the Tottenham backline, Zadorksy was key as usual in containing the Chelsea threat and Spencer was again in top form just as she was a couple of weeks ago against Manchester United. Our best player going forward was Lucy Quinn by a mile. There was a huge improvement by our defence as we really frustrated the Chelsea front line and for once the defence did not crack under pressure or when going behind. We must feel for the team because both Chelsea goals could have been prevented had we been a little more alert but we are so very proud of the hard work our players put in and to lose just by 2 soft goals against the Champions is a huge achievement for our team giving the results against the top 4 sides recently. Highlights of the Chelsea match can be found below.
This week Tottenham fans received some of the best news that we could have hoped for this season with club Captain Shelina Zadrosky signing a new contract keeping her at the club for at least another season.
Zadorsky has been a much needed re-enforcement in the Tottenham defence and her class and experience has deservedly earned her the captains armband. Shelina’s sit down interview can be viewed below.
We hope as well as some much-needed additions to the squad, Tottenham will announce contract renewals for Kennedy, Quinn, Mikalsen and more but we will touch on that in our end of season special in a couple of weeks.
Congratulations are also in order for Becky Spencer who has been called up for the first time for Jamaica to face the U.S.A, Portugal and Nigeria in the 2021 Summer series in Houston Texas which begins on June 10th with Jamaica taking on Nigeria in the opening match.
Birmingham vs Tottenham lineup.
Birmingham lined up in 4-3-3 with Hampton in goal, Scott in at right-back, Brougham and Mace in the centre of defence while Holloway was in at left-back. The Birmingham midfield was made of Napier, Green and Whipp. The Blues front line was made of Mayling down the right, Murphy down the left and Walker in the number 9 role.
Tottenham lined up in a 4-3-3 with Spencer in goal, Neville in at right-back, McManus and Zadorsky in the centre of defence with Harrop in at left-back. The midfield was made of Cho, William and Peplow whilst our front line was made of Quinn down the right-wing, Graham down the left-wing and Naz in the number 9 role.
In what was meant to be a battle of two quite evenly match sides, It was Tottenham that started the strongest of the two teams. Tottenham enjoyed more possession but was unable to do anything with it for the first 10 minutes. Tottenham’s biggest issue was Neville in defence who was guilty of a few sloppy passes in the opening quarter of an hour and almost gave the ball to Birmingham with a misplaced header which resulted in a corner to Birmingham. Tottenham was able to get the ball into the Birmingham box on a few occasions with Harrop and Naz but those crosses were too hard and unable to find a Tottenham player to threaten Hampton in the Birmingham goal.
Tottenham’s first chance came in the 15th minute when good play between Naz and Quinn after a throw-in lead to Quinn shooting or crossing from the right almost catching Hampton off guard but the Birmingham stopper was able to put the ball out for a corner. Kit Graham took the corner for Tottenham, finding Naz on the edge of the box who shot from distance but had her shot blocked before the rebound came back to Naz who shot softly into the hands of Hampton. Birmingham had their first chance of the game in the 24th minute when Holloway took a free-kick from the right after a Naz handball which almost crept into Spencer’s top right corner. Tottenham could have had a penalty in the 25th minute after a wonderful run by Graham, she was tracked by 3 Birmingham players and looked to have been pushed over by Mace in the Birmingham box but the referee waved play on.
Tottenham kept controlling possession but were unable to create any clear chances, if Tottenham were to break down Birmingham it would have to be down to some individual brilliance as Tottenham lacked that final ball. Tottenham had claims for a penalty again turned down in the 28th minute when Quinn latched onto a long McManus pass and Quinn was pushed down by Mace in the Birmingham box. Tottenham played out the final 10 minutes of the game dominating possession and making life very difficult for Birmingham but was unable to test Hampton in goal. Birmingham tried to attack Tottenham but the well organised Tottenham defence dealt with Birmingham’s attack with no real problems.
Neither team made any changes at half time, Tottenham came out in the second half the strongest but the first chance of the 2nd half fell to Birmingham after Walker stole the ball off Zadorsky shooting from a slight angle but put her effort wide of Spencer’s goal after rushing her effort. Tottenham came close in the 49th minute when Tottenham worked a clever free-kick with Quinn passing to Naz who passed to Graham before passing the ball back to Quinn who centred into the Birmingham box but no Tottenham made the move to just touch the ball into the back of the net. Tottenham was still looking to end the 2020-21 season on a high and in the 55th minute Skinner made a double substitution with Ayane and Addison coming on for Quinn and Peplow.
Tottenham continued to be the better side, enjoy most of the possession but unable to create any clear chances. Tottenham came close again in the 67th minute when a Tottenham free-kick unexpectedly fell behind Addison but she was unable to react quickly enough before the ball was cleared away by Mace. Tottenham finally got their reward in the 71st minute when some wonderful passing play from the back led to Zadorsky playing a wonderful pass down the middle to Graham who turned her marker, went past another defender before shooting from the edge of the box with her left into the bottom left scoring a wonderful goal for the Lilywhites.
Birmingham began to grow slightly in the final 10 minutes unnerving our backline as Tottenham looked to pass the ball around holding possession as they run down the clock but Birmingham were unable to threaten Spencer in goal. Tottenham was however almost punished in the 88th minute when Spencer passed a loose sloppy ball to Zadorsky on the edge of the box which almost resulted in Tottenham giving the ball away to Birmingham but Zadorsky reacted quickly to clear the ball away from danger. Referee Lisa Benn gave 4 minutes injury time as Tottenham continued to pass the ball around running down the clock before Benn blew the final whistle.
Player of the match.
Tottenham played a very good match and have been given a much need confidence boost ahead of the FA Cup 5th round tie against Sheffield United next Sunday. The passing play that led to the goal was wonderful with Captain Zadorsky proving a brilliant ball to Kit Graham to turn and convert to give us our first victory or 2021. Therefore our player of the match goes to Kit Graham.
Post match analysis.
We saw what Tottenham are capable of doing today against Birmingham, yes the Blues are going through some tough times and with only a goalkeeper for a substitute, Birmingham was always going to have a tough 90 minutes against Tottenham. Both teams came into the match with a poor 2021 WSL record with neither team winning in the league in 2021. From the start there looked like there was just one team that was hungrier for the victory but credit to Birmingham who with just 12 available players held out our Lilywhites for 70 minutes. We were thinking sooner or later something has to give but due to our poor form in front of goal, the fear was there that we would end up drawing or Birmingham would snatch a winner. Luckily for us, the good fortune went Tottenham’s way with a wonderful strike by Kit Graham.
We don’t want to take anything away from the team and their performance but we have to be honest and say that the reason that we were able to take the 3 points was because we were facing a team that has a lot of problems and are poorer than us. If we were facing West Ham, Bristol or even Villa it may have been a very different result. It is wonderful to see the team playing from the back and passing the ball around but we need to be more physical in midfield and more ruthless in front of goal. I hate to think what situation we could have found ourselves in had we not been awarded those 3 points against Birmingham back in March. Tottenham needs to sign a new forward, maybe someone like Ebony Salmon now that Bristol has been relegated BUT we also need a creative midfield to get the ball to the forwards. There are many players we feel need to move on but that will be something that we talk about in our end of season special.
Overall we got what we wanted, despite facing an understrength Birmingham we ended the season with a victory as a result of a wonderfully taken goal after wonderful play from the back. We must celebrate that after a difficult season on and off the pitch we will be seeing our Lilywhites in the WSL for another season BUT we also recognise the HUGE improvements that need to made if we want to avoid finding ourselves in the same situation and compete with the likes of Manchester United and challenge for a top 3 finish. We trust in the process and we believe in Rianne Skinner, let’s hope that next season we will be able to attend more matches and see our inspirational Lilywhites win many more games COME ON YOU SPURS!!!!
End of season awards.
The Voting is open for the annual end of season awards, the player of the season award can be voted by all season ticket holders aged 17 and above. The Juniors player of the season can only be voted on by members aged 16 and under whilst the goal of the season can be voted on by all members BUT be quick because voting closes at 5 pm on Thursday, May 13th. Voting and more information can be found at the following link https://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/news/2021/may/202021-spurs-women-end-of-season-awards/ so be quick.
The WSL season may be over but we are still in the FA Cup and our next match will take place next week at home to Sheffield United. Should our Lilywhites get through the dates for the next rounds have been announced with the Quarter-Finals taking place on September 29th, the Semi-Finals taking place October 31st and the final taking place on December 5th at Wembley.
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FA Cup 5th Round: Tottenham vs Sheffield United